New digital virtues or virtues for the digital context. Do we need a new model of character education?

Nuevas virtudes digitales o virtudes para el contexto digital: ¿es necesaria una nueva educación del carácter?

Juan Luis Fuentes and Jorge Valero Berzosa


No one questions the fact that technology has colonized various aspects of our lives. We make use of technology in our work in a great variety of professional fields, in establishing our social relationships or in order to look for on-the-spot information. This new digital world generates different reactions, which del range from pessimism arising from the risks provoked by a certain confusion, perplexity and, at times moral blockage, to an optimistic outlook based on the possibilities the digital world offers for human development. This article is centred at the intersection of these two viewpoints and aims to examine whether the digital world demands a new paradigm of virtues — a substantial change — or whether it simply requires an updating of the classical pattern of virtues to the new circumstances produced by technological change. The article will set out some of the principal characteristics which are provoked by the almost total presence of technology in our lives and will focus on the virtue of critical thinking, which has become especially necessary in view of problems of infoxication, post-truth or the more and more common methods of online fraud and abuse. After analysing these aspects and the limits of technology and of the digital paradigm, we argue that in the present-day context there are no elements which are incompatible with the classical conception of the virtues. It is certainly true that new challenges will emerge in character education in view of students’ immersion in the use of IT and that this situation will mean that certain virtues will require special reappraisal; such will be the case of critical thought, responsibility and the protection of privacy. However, there is no reason to suppose that the pillars of Aristotelian ethics have been in any way altered or have become obsolete. We defend the idea that an updating and adjustment to a demanding new context is preferable to any really substantial change, since the foundation and objectives of the ethics of virtue remain unchanged in the digital world.

Please, cite this article as follows: Fuentes, J. L., & Valero, J. (2023). Nuevas virtudes digitales o virtudes para el contexto digital: ¿es necesaria una nueva educación del carácter? | New digital virtues or virtues for the digital context. Do we need a new model of character education? Revista Española de Pedagogía, 81 (284), 123-141.

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Juan Luis Fuentes holds a PhD with European Mention and Extraordinary Prize from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Associate Professor of the De- partment of Education Studies and Vice- Dean of International Relations at the Faculty of Education (UCM). His lines of research include character education, so- cial education and the use of technology from an ethical-civic viewpoint.

Jorge Valero Berzosa graduated in Law and Humanities at the Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. He holds a Mas- ter in Cultural Criticism from Universidad Carlos III and a Master in Character Ed- ucation from Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR). He has devoted a large part of his career to secondary and high school teaching. His lines of research are character training and the develop- ment of virtue ethics, especially through literature.

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