“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.”
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.
COVID-19 is linked to meat consumption, but it doesn’t seem to be causally connected to the meat that most Westerners eat. Rather, the cause of COVID-19 appears to be tied to the wildlife trade and not conventional animal agriculture. Nevertheless, animal advocates draw connections between pandemics and meat-eating in a way that seems to be designed to assign some kind of blame, or partial responsibility to, all meat eaters, including those with no connection to the wildlife trade, for the COVID-19 outbreak. Is this just confused, or can we make some sense of it?
In my talk, I’ll argue that Western meat eaters share responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic even if their behavior didn’t play a causal role in the production of this pandemic. In doing so, I’ll defend three different arguments: the argument from risky behavior, the argument from worsening impacts, and the argument from collective habits. I’ll moreover introduce and defend a new expansive notion of shared responsibility–non-causal counterfactual responsibility. As I will argue, because all meat eaters engage in pandemic-risky behavior, they are all part of the total “pandemic risk.” And because Western meat eaters contribute to the “pandemic risk,” they, too, are morally responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic (and factory farms, too, are morally responsible for the pandemic). After all, it could’ve been beef that caused a 2019 pandemic.
The second talk in our four-talk series will be “Challenging Expertise: When Specialization Meets Democracy” by Dr. Jamie Watson. The talk will be on Zoom on Thursday, October 22nd at 4:00 p.m. Click the link below to register.
Expertise is a problem for democracy. Democratic processes give every view equal weight, but experts tell us that their views are better than others. Democratic processes presume individuals are the best judge of their own interests, but experts tell us that we often act against our own interests. Can we resolve this tension and save both democracy and expertise? I will explain three ways that philosophers and political theorists suggest we should understand the relationship between expert and non-expert citizens. Then I will describe some features of expertise that may point to a new solution to problem of expertise for democracy.
Utah State philosophy students, there is a great opportunity this weekend for you to see what an academic philosophy conference looks like. The Mountain Plains Philosophy Conference will be held this weekend virtually and you are warmly invited to attend. In particular, I would suggest that you attend the keynote speech by Douglas Portmore, who is a prominent utilitarian philosopher. That talk is called, “The Right, the Good, and Our Ultimate Moral Concerns”, and it will take place Saturday from 5:00-6:00. You are also welcome to attend any other sessions that you wish. You can find information regarding the schedule and how to register below. Hope to see you there!
We’d love to see you at our first philosophy club talk of the year, “Some Rawlsian Notes on Universal Basic Income” by Dr. Larry Udell from West Chester University. It will be held on Thursday, October 15th at 4:00 p.m. on Zoom. Follow the link below to register: