Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 265-281

First online:

Technological Metaphors and Moral Education: The Hacker Ethic and the Computational Experience

  • Bryan R. WarnickAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois

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This essay is an attempt to understand how technological metaphors, particularly computer metaphors, are relevant to moral education. After discussing various types of technological metaphors, it is argued that technological metaphors enter moral thought through their “functional descriptions.” The computer metaphor is then explored by turning to the “hacker ethic.” Analysis of this ethic reveals parallels between the experience of computer programming and the moral standards of those who are enmeshed in computer technology. This parallel suggests that the hacker ethic is being pushed by a computer metaphor and its functional descriptions in a direction of individualism and systems thinking. After examining some possible implications of the computer metaphor, this essay offers suggestions concerning how technological metaphors may be critiqued.

conceptual metaphor theory ethics metaphor moral education technology value theory