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Editing Commons-based peer production and virtue

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{{Publication|type=Journal article|title=Commons-based Peer Production and Virtue|authors=Yochai Benkler, Helen Nissenbaum|published_in=The Journal of Political Philosophy|year=2006|volume=14|issue=4|pages=394–419|url=|peer_reviewed=Yes|article_language=English|abstract=COMMONS-BASED peer production is a socio-economic system ofproduction that is emerging in the digitally networked environment.Facilitated by the technical infrastructure of the Internet, the hallmark of thissocio-technical system is collaboration among large groups of individuals,sometimes in the order of tens or even hundreds of thousands, who cooperateeffectively to provide information, knowledge or cultural goods without relyingon either market pricing or managerial hierarchies to coordinate their commonenterprise.1 While there are many practical reasons to try to understand a novelsystem of production that has produced some of the finest software, the fastestsupercomputer and some of the best web-based directories and news sites,here we focus on the ethical, rather than the functional dimension. What doesit mean in ethical terms that many individuals can find themselves cooperatingproductively with strangers and acquaintances on a scope never before seen?How might it affect, or at least enable, human action and affection, and howwould these effects or possibilities affect our capacities to be virtuous humanbeings? We suggest that the emergence of peer production offers an opportunityfor more people to engage in practices that permit them to exhibit and experiencevirtuous behavior. We posit: (a) that a society that provides opportunities forvirtuous behavior is one that is more conducive to virtuous individuals; and (b)that the practice of effective virtuous behavior may lead to more people adoptingvirtues as their own, or as attributes of what they see as their self-definition. Thecentral thesis of this paper is that socio-technical systems of commons-basedpeer production offer not only a remarkable medium of production for various kinds of information goods but serve as a context for positive characterformation. Exploring and substantiating these claims will be our quest, but webegin with a brief tour through this strange and exciting new landscape ofcommons-based peer production and conclude with recommendations for publicpolicy.}}