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Psychological interference, liberty and technology

Sætra, Henrik Skaug and Mills, Stuart (2022) Psychological interference, liberty and technology. Technology in Society, 69. ISSN 0160-791X

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2022.101973


Power and the use of force are central concerns in liberal political theory. Yet, it is claimed that liberal theory fails to account for the power that is exerted through, for example, personalised nudging based on Big Data. We dispute this claim and through a reappraisal of the concept of negative liberty we show how psychological interference can be both coercive and manipulative. This reappraisal is partly achieved through an examination of psychological equivalents of physical interference, in order to highlight the arbitrariness of excluding the non-physical from consideration. The liberal understanding of liberty and interference here provided enables us to see how power is exerted through technology. It thus provides a novel contribution to the analysis of the liberty reducing effects of new technologies combined with a lack of privacy and a will to manipulate, based on an individualist liberal theory argued to be incapable of just that.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2022 13:48
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2022 08:30

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