University of Cambridge > > NLIP Seminar Series > An Affordance Account of Value Embedding in Technology: Why Good Intentions are Not Enough

An Affordance Account of Value Embedding in Technology: Why Good Intentions are Not Enough

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  • UserFabio Tollon (Bielefeld University) World_link
  • ClockFriday 03 March 2023, 12:00-13:00
  • HouseVirtual (Zoom).

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In this talk I critically evaluate the value neutrality thesis regarding technology, and find it wanting. I then introduce the various ways in which artifacts can come to influence moral value, and our evaluation of moral situations and actions. Here, following van de Poel and Kroes, I introduce the idea of value sensitive design. Specifically, I show how by virtue of their designed properties, artifacts may come to embody values. Such accounts, however, have several shortcomings. In agreement with Michael Klenk, I raise epistemic and metaphysical issues with respect to designed properties embodying value. The concept of an affordance, borrowed from ecological psychology, provides a more philosophically fruitful grounding to the potential way(s) in which artifacts might embody values. This is due to the way in which it incorporates key insights from perception more generally, and how we go about determining possibilities for action in our environment specifically. This account draws our attention to the ways that values might become embodied in technological artifacts despite the best of intentions.


Fabio Tollon is a doctoral candidate at Bielefeld University, in the department of philosophy, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – as part of the GRK 2073 “Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research”. He is also a fellow at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR), and an external collaborator at the Unit for the Ethics of Technology at Stellenbosch University. Before coming to Europe he studied at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Topic: NLIP Seminar Time: March 03, 2023 12:00 PM London

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