Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-10-2019


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Craig T. Maier


Cyberspace, Dialectic, Communication Ethics, Cyber Attacks, Cyber Terrorism, Cyberbullying, Wicked Problem, Wicked Crisis, David Gunkel, Kenneth Burke


This project recognizes the need to re-conceptualize cyberspace according to its characteristic dialectical tensions in order to offer lasting, adequate responses to cyber attacks. Scholars across multiple disciplines recognize the ineffectiveness of perimeter defense strategies, or the raising of defensive walls to protect sensitive information as the primary response to cyber attacks (Denning, 2001; Jang-Jaccard & Nepal, 2014; MacKinnon, Bacon, Gan, Loukas, Chadwick, Frangiskatos, 2013). Thus, this project suggests that in addition to a literacy in coding, corporations and policy makers must attend to what Ronald C. Arnett, Janie Harden Fritz, and Leeanne M. Bell McManus (2009/2018) term “communication ethics literacy” to illuminate the goods at stake in cyber attacks. Communication ethics literacy and its emphasis on learning from difference will encourage an examination of the background issues influencing foreground attacks (Arnett, McManus, & McKendree, 2013). The goods that shape cyberspace manifest in the dialectics of cyberspace. After reviewing historic and philosophic approaches to dialectic, this project employs a dialectical framework derived from the work of both Kenneth Burke (1941; 1945/1969) and David Gunkel (2007); Burke recognizes that dialectical terms do not reach a synthesis but rather remain in tension (Tell, 2004), and Gunkel announces the poststructuralist recognition that after their collision, neither term is the same and must be thought of as wholly and radically other. This project examines the dialectics of public/private, anonymity/identity, and national/global and their corresponding attacks of cyberbullying, cyber theft, and cyber terrorism and cyber war. The project concludes with an examination of the goods of public/private, anonymity/identity, and national/global to announce the importance of the maintenance of each pole of the dialectic while engaging cyberspace. This attentiveness yields implications for the continued application of communication ethicists, philosophers of communication, phenomenologists, and philosophers of technology to position communication ethics as a first response to cyber attacks.



Included in

Communication Commons