Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-17-2018

Graduate Advisor

Jill Delston, Ph.D.

Committee

Jill Delston, Ph.D.

Stephanie Ross, Ph.D.

Eric Wiland, Ph.D.

Abstract

Making use of three historic philosophical thought experiments, this paper blends psychological perspectives with philosophical reasoning to show how social media is corrupting our perception of reality, the result of which is ultimately detrimental to society as a whole. This is accomplished by first using Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” to analyze and discuss the ways in which social media is limiting humanity’s access to real knowledge. Next, Michel Foucault’s analysis of punishment in its social context, Discipline and Punish, is used to discuss the ways in which social media is adversely affecting our behavior. Finally, Robert Nozick’s “Experience Machine” is used to elucidate how social media mediates our experiences of the world in ways that undermine our life’s meaning and pleasure. In bringing this combined conception to light, practical suggestions are made throughout both the Objections section and the Conclusion of the paper. Whereas some may view the suggestions put forth as simplistic or undemanding given the seemingly complex substance of the bulk of the paper, given how interweaved social media is within the developed world today, taking a less hard-line position and approach seems far more realistically practical. Thus, this paper espouses a pragmatic view, aiming for practical solutions and focusing on the positive and realistic expected consequences of those solutions, as opposed to less practical, idealistic proposals.

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