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Toward a Networked Rhetorical Ethics of Response-Ability

Lawson, Thomas M (2022) Toward a Networked Rhetorical Ethics of Response-Ability. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation intervenes in “short-sighted” writing in online communities: how the circulation of opinion (doxa) tends to aggregate and culminate in consensus, short-circuiting users’ appreciation of the effects of their writing on the network as a space of deliberating and knowing together. To imagine networked writing spaces in which users care-fully attend to how their writing is contributing to the networking of doxa and, in turn, the epistemic and moral growth of the network, I adopt Gilbert Simondon’s concept of ethical individuation as a model for rethinking network-building. Here, individuals participate in the development of systems of norms through actions that put into relation as much as possible latent tensions between disparate values, thereby discovering values which render these tensions compatible and yield more capacious and nuanced norms for moral problem-solving. Such prudent participation in ethical systems is motivated by an affirmation of the networked character of one’s actions, as it intervenes in and the ongoing development of the system of norms which inform how individuals resolve moral problems. Working from this picture of ethical network-building as described in Simondon’s philosophy, chapters one, two, three, and four set out to identify and delineate the communication practices, digital ethē, and network literacies that could support online communities in which users’ writing individuates doxa through a pondering and restructuring of latent tensions between the experiences, emotions, and values that compose the online community and underwrite its doxa. These practices, ethē, and literacies constitute to a networked rhetorical ethics of response-ability, in which users sense and affirm their participation in the networking of doxa and write in ways that cultivate possibilities for deliberating about and knowing together shared matters of interest.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lawson, Thomas Mtml68@pitt.edutml68
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairVee,
Committee MemberHorton,
Committee MemberPitts,
Committee MemberMecchia,
Date: 12 October 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 11 May 2022
Approval Date: 12 October 2022
Submission Date: 22 July 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 201
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gilbert Simondon, digital rhetoric, doxa, online community, networked rhetorics, technics, rhetoric, ethics
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 15:00
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2022 15:00


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