Ethics and Mediatization: Subjectivity, Judgment (phronēsis) and Meta-theoretical Coherence?

  • Charles M. EssEmail author
Part of the Ethik in mediatisierten Welten book series (EMW)


In Stig Hjarvard’s characterization, mediatization studies move beyond the positivist origins of the social sciences, as they must in order to avoid the fundamental contradiction between original commitments to classical determinism vis-à-vis human agency as acknowledged within mediatization studies. In order to sustain and enhance Hjarvard’s vision of the coherence between human agency and mediatization studies as a species of social science, I first sharpen these theoretical tensions by developing a robust account of human freedom as informed by Kant and virtue ethics. I then adopt precise understandings of complementarity and epistemological pluralism as initially developed in Quantum Mechanics and subsequently by Karen Barad and Judith Simon as frameworks that can coherently conjoin contemporary social (and natural) science with strong accounts of human freedom. The resulting coherency—or entanglement—between ethics and science implies new ethical responsibilities for social scientists as ‘virtuous agents’.


Virtue ethics Phronēsis Autonomy Complementarity Epistemological pluralism 



I am very grateful indeed to Knut Lundby who organized a workshop on “Mediatized conditions” at UC Berkeley, California, 5–6 December 2013. This workshop opened up the conversation and debate with Stig Hjarvard, Lundby and others that catalyzed much of the work on mediatization in play here. I am further grateful to both Knut Lundby and Stig Hjarvard for their subsequent encouragement and assistance.


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Media and CommunicationUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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