Value capture occurs when an agent’s values are rich and subtle; they enter a social environment that presents simplified — typically quantified — versions of those values; and those simplified articulations come to dominate their practical reasoning. Examples include becoming motivated by FitBit’s step counts, Twitter Likes and Retweets, citation rates, ranked lists of best schools, and Grade Point Averages. We are vulnerable to value capture because of the competitive advantage that such crisp and clear expressions of value have in our private reasoning and our public justification. But value capture poses several threats. First, value capture threatens to change the goals of our activities, in a way that often threatens to undermine the value of those activities. Twitter’s scoring system threatens to replace some of the richer goals of communication — understanding, connection, and the mutual pursuit of truth — with the thinner goals of getting likes and going viral. (See also, citation rates and impact factors). Second, in value capture, we take a central component of our autonomy — our ongoing deliberation over the exact articulation of our values — and we outsource it. And the metrics to which we outsource usually engineered for the interests of some external force, like a large-scale institution’s interest in bureaucratic management. That outsourcing cuts off one of the key benefits to personal deliberation. In value capture, we no longer adjust our values and their articulations in light of own rich experience of the world. Our values should be carefully tailored to our particular selves, but in value capture, we buy our values off the rack.
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:
I have received several notes expressing interest in philosophy club. So let’s get something going! What sort of events would you like to see? Watch parties, lectures, debates, games, tournaments – any ideas?
My friend Dr Walz, who teaches philosophy at University of Dallas, wrote an interesting reflection today on learning during COVID19. He used C.S. Lewis’ sermon “Learning in War-Time” as the starting point for his reflection, though he stresses the distinction between COVID19 and actual war. Dr Walz has interesting insights for teachers and students as we try to learn in this unique situation. Worth a read, so click here.