Two Events this Week

We have two events taking place in partnership with Weber State this week. One is an Ethics Panel discussion on Philosophy and Education. That will take place Wednesday, March 30th at 2:00 p.m. That event will occur on Zoom. To register, click on this link:

The other is an Ethics Slam, also on the topic of Ethics and Education. That will be held on Thursday, March 31st at Grounds for Coffee on 25th Street in Ogden (3005 Harrison Blvd) at 5:00 pm (it will last roughly an hour. Hope to see some of you there!

Philosophy Club Talk by Dr. Megan Fritts, “Gamified Pedagogy and The Crowd: Can Easy Learning Erase the Individual?”

We hope that you’ll join us on Thursday, March 18th at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom for a USU Philosophy Club Talk by our Visiting Assistant Professor, Dr. Megan Fritts. Zoom Link and Talk Description Below.

“In Thi Nguyen’s paper “How Twitter Gamifies Communication” (forthcoming), he argues that the algorithmic features of the social networking site Twitter make the site popular and addictive largely because it “gamifies” how we communicate with one another. This gamification occurs by providing users with artificial incentives and goals (e.g. likes and retweets), resulting in “value clarity”—namely, unlikely in real life, in games we have clarity about what to value, because the game designers tells us what to value. Nguyen argues that the artificiality of this value-clarity poses a problem for how we communicate with others. The problem is that, when users accept the “seduction” of value-clarity, we trade our original, complex goals of discourse for different, simplistic ends.In this paper, I build on Nguyen’s critique, shifting the focus to “gamified” pedagogy, and argue that his critique is similar to one offered by Kierkegaard against “the crowd” in the work The Point of View. Specifically, I argue that Kierkegaard’s description of crowds as “untruth” is similar to Nguyen’s description of gamification. Individual values, for both Kierkegaard and Nguyen, are too opaque and complex to be utilized by a collective. “Crowds”, therefore, involve group acceptance of a simplistic set of values that no individual in the group originally held. For both thinkers, accepting a simplified set of values can be dangerous, though they disagree on what this danger consists in. I further argue that this should make us wary of efforts to “gamify” pedagogy, despite the appeal of doing so.”

Please join us for a Philosophy Club talk by Dr. Michael Otteson titled, “Decisive Indecision: A Critique of Kantian Perfectionism”

We are lucky to have Dr. Michael Otteson with us this year as a Visiting Assistant Professor. On Thursday, February 11th at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom, Dr. Otteson will deliver a talk to the Philosophy Club titled, “Decisive Indecision: A Critique of Kantian Perfectionism”. The Zoom link and talk description are provided below. We hope to see you there!

I argue against theories of perfectionism that root normativity in the activity of rational deliberation.  These theories, which I collectively call Kantian perfectionism, assert that the human good is found in making careful, rational choices about what we want to do with our lives that respect and protect our capacity to be rational agents.  I argue that these theories are inadequate as normative theories because they fail the Terminal Requirement.  The Terminal Requirement holds that an intrinsic or ultimate good, whatever that may be, must not be entirely directed at finding some other good, lest it devolve into infinite regress or futility.  Insofar as Kantian perfectionism recommends an activity (rational deliberation) that involves determining what the agent has most reason to do, it will either find some good beyond deliberation itself or fail on its own terms.