A Critical Stance


Unedited audio transcript

Hello everyone. Welcome to ethics analytics and the duty of care. I'm broadcasting at a bit of a higher resolution today so we'll see how that goes. And let's hope it goes. Well, this is the panel to mint video of the course, it called a critical stance. It's part of module eight, ethical practices in learning analytics.

And what I'm up to in this particular video is looking at what we mean by ethical practices. When we're talking from the perspective of ourselves and let's kind of take us down a few side roads. But I think there interesting a useful side roads and when we come out of it we'll be setting ourselves up for I think.

What really is the best and I can make with respect to ethical practices from the perspective of artificial intelligence in analytics. It's not going to be a set of rules or anything like that, but it is going to be related to the fact that ethics is for each of us, something very personal.

So with that, let's launch into the presentation. So I'm gonna begin with what I'm calling a concluding unethical post script. And yes, that's a nod and a wink to soar in Kierkegaard because it seems to me an awful lot of ethics, is based on a bit of a leap of faith.

And I wanted to describe that leap of faith because really that where, this course has led us and the concluding unethical postcript that I'm offering here is pretty much a summary if someone the major conclusions of the course, the first and most important conclusion to me, is that we can't just talk about the ethics of such and such, for example, the ethics of analytics or the ethics of artificial, intelligence, whatever is though, we have solved ethics, we have not solved ethics.

We do not have a universally agreed upon or universally substantiated theory of ethics, and many of the debates that we see in our society today are pretty clear, evidence of the fact that we haven't solved ethics. If we had solved, ethics, ethics and analytics ethics. And AI would be easy.

But we have it, so it's hard. Ethics based on virtue or beneficial outcomes. Which we looked at earlier in the course are simply not going to be satisfactory. In the case of fields, like learning analytics if they're satisfied anywhere. First of all, we don't even agree on what the good is.

That's especially the case in education and learning analytics. We don't even agree on what we ought to be accomplishing in ethics, or sorry in education in learning and learning analytics, is a job training. Is a preparation for life is a balanced view of the world. Is it developing capacities of reason and understanding is it to create sociable and friendly people.

Is it all of these is that some of these is that none of these. We don't have agreement on that even more significantly. We don't know what the consequences of a lot of these technologies will be When we and I say week is I was implicated to some degree.

In this one, we created the internet. We didn't know that one of its primary uses would be to share cat pictures. We didn't know that a social network called Facebook would using algorithm that prioritized engagement for advertising purposes. Creating a proliferation of fake news and political conflict. When we don't know what the consequences are going to be, is pretty hard to base your ethics and consequences, especially when you can't repair the bad consequences after the fact there are, you know, results of some of the things that we do that can't be fixed.

If we blow up the world somehow, you know, there's no coming back from that if we prevent ourselves from being able to understand climate change or how the democratic system works, or what you need to do to fight the pandemic, you can't come back from that, you know, hundreds of thousands millions of people have died over the last few years.

Based, at least partially on misinformation. We can't fix that. They're gone, a lot of people recommend duties, or social contracts, or documents like codes of ethics, just because we can't predict these consequences, but these are blunt. Instruments. Used for a task that requires considerable precision, ethical principles, social contracts codes of ethics.

Don't take into account context, don't take into account particular situations, don't take into account the lived experience of people who are either ethical actors or the targets of ethical or non-ethical action. They don't take into account the larger interconnected environment in which we live. Many of them don't even grant.

Large parts of that environment, standing as ethical values or vehicles. It wasn't so long ago, not so long ago. At all that we had debates on whether women are persons. And yet many of the ethical principles that we've came up with in the past were drafted, before we thought of women, this persons seems odd and wrong.

They also don't take into account how analytics themselves work. You can't simply take a rule and apply it to a neural network. That's not how a narrow network works. You can sort of maybe put rules around the outside of the neural network application but when you're actually getting to the core of what the neural network itself is doing, there are so many decisions that are made.

We look at a whole bunch of them, and so many factors, and so many data points that it makes no sense to apply, you know, simple and universal rules principles or codes of ethics to it. It just doesn't, you know, this approach just doesn't respect the subject matter. In this case.

And interestingly, you know, I I sometimes think of efforts to promote ethics and analytics and artificial intelligence as attempts to create an ethical behavior. When we are ourselves to not behave in that way, We know that the decisions or the output created from these neural network systems reflecting the input and that input is us.

And as Michael West says, the machine is us and we might not like what we do as a whole. You look at the way society works, we might not like how that works and it seems a little bit illegitimate to say, well, we really don't like how we are ethically as species.

So what will do is, what come up with some sort of idealized version of what, that ethics should be and put that on top of our artificial intelligence. So that whatever comes out of it is somehow filtered to produce, only the ethical things that we did, and not the unethical things that we did, but it's just, it's not reasonable to attempt to do that.

It's not, I don't know if it's not possible, maybe it's possible, but I can't imagine how it could be done without creating an artificial intelligence. Something I had general artificial intelligence, because there are so many variables and so many factors that is raised or trained in a completely ethical environment.

Whatever that might look like. I think for better, or for worse, the ethics of our artificial intelligence, and learning analytics, systems is going to be the ethics that we show these systems. If we want more ethical AI, we have to be a more ethical society. There isn't going to be some kind of shortcut to that process.

It's this does lead me to explore things like the duty of care. Now I kind of bracket out the concept of duty here because I don't think we're talking about duty in the sense of a county and duty or a moral imperative of rule based on reason I'm pretty sure that's not what feminist philosophical perspectives lead us.

Towards the duty of care, is a more relational and more context bound approach toward morality and decision making. It's based on different things. We don't pick one thing like say rights or fairness, or justice, or some abstract principle and say, this will define what our morality is. It's rather based on, as I insulin before lived experience compassion, the feelings of care that you might have say toward a child or towards somebody.

You're responsible for this isn't a rigid set of principles. It's rather applied on a case by case basis, not as an algorithm or a function but more like an attitude or an approach you approach the subjects with care. That's what it means, right? And if you try to cash out what we mean as care in some kind of universal principle, that applies to everyone all the time, these efforts will not work because that's not the kind of thing.

Care is to care, specifically, attends to the relationship between yourself and the person you're carrying for, or the animal or the planet, or the society, or whatever it relates specifically, to that relationship and brings in all the variables, and all the properties and the entire context of that relationship.

And then you kind of feel your way to what would cost you to care? That sounds really handy but I think it's a lot less hand waving than saying oh ethics is derived from a principal. A fairness to me that's the hand wavy thing of. So what does that tell us?

Here's what it tells me. Ethics are in the end derive from our own lived experiences and for AI and analytics. The ethics that they display will be derived from their quote, unquote lived experiences, all the decisions, all the input, all the data, the totality of the input, the totality of the context will create whatever ethics is displayed by an artificial intelligence, or analytics engine.

It's very often a matter of a community, as a whole, as an entire system rather than one individual defining. What ethics are. And we're going to need to be a bit careful about this and in the slides to follow, I'm going to be a bit careful about this but it's not, you know, ethics as a reason doubts by the rational individual completely as one and, you know, in isolation from the rest of the world.

It's not that the entire community plays, a role here and as a result, we need to keep in mind how we're all connected. Now, big surprise even downstairs. We need to take keep in mind how we're all connected, but this is important because this is what tells us how we learn to be ethical in the first place because for better or worse, we all do learn to be ethical, whatever.

That means some people don't learn her very well and become psychotic and have no ethical bone in their body. Other people become really ethical and become saints in society and most of us fall somewhere in between generally, I would say on the more practical side of things. But you know it's it's a range, right?

But each one of us learns from our experience from our interactions with other people in the community, what we think ethical is and we need to talk about how this comes to be. And the other thing is when we learn what ethics is, it's not that we're learning a set of principles.

The way we make learn about Newton's three laws or or I Einstein's principle of relativity you know it's like our knowledge of the world around us you know, even the physics of the world around this right generally. We learn as a result of observing specific instances and then our mind which is a terrific recognition engine, a terrific device that spots regularities.

So it's oh yeah, let's stuff go. They fall. It always falls, right? Or, you know, somebody does such and such a thing, the reaction from the community is always pretty negative, you know? But it's a large number hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of individual actions that are all combined to feed our own neuron nets.

That give us an understanding of what ethics is in the same way we train. Artificial neural networks, the big difference between us and the artificial neural network is that we bring in a lot more experience. We have many more data points to work with and a much more sophisticated recognition engine.

And then, there may be properties related to our physical constitution. Our genetics are heritage which also play a role in how we manage all of that data. And I also drew out some suggestions. This is now just in the proceeding few sections of this module of how ethics should be approached in practice in learning in a workplace.

And in society, because of what I've observed so far. Because of what we've said about ethics. So far, rather than creating an emphasis on fall of creating and following rules, it makes more sense to focus on creating an ethical culture. You know, identify what are the prevailing ethics, if any there are in a learning environment in your workplace or whatever, but also recognizing that there's a diversity of perspectives on ethics.

And this gives us a wider sense of community. Where one of the things that we do is exchange opinions on this wider set of perspectives and this requires and I talked about this an encouragement of openness and interaction through a wide range of activities, our dramasports etc, to develop empathy.

And to develop a should be to see how ethics might play out from the perspective of another person. This is all, you know, this is not unique to ethics. These are approaches to learning that I think are valuable generally, not talked about that another context. But now we're looking at ourselves, what should our ethical practices?

Be what would inform our ethical practices? How do we even come to know our ethical practices? And we need to start by asking? Well what do we think are self actually is how do we define ourselves? There are different ways that people have of defining who they are, or what they are, and is very easy from time, to time for society to size.

Two society from individual to individual. I've listed six common ways of defining, what the self is. And there are many others but these are major ones we could think of self as the pure subject of experiences and putting my cards on the table. This is mostly what I think the self is, I think the self is the set of experiences that constitutes this self.

I know that sounds a little circular but if you have nothing else but experiences what it is but a lot of people think of the physical existence as an essential component of self. And so, they depict self as continuing physical existence, some people, including some of my connectionist friends who see the idea of self as possibly extending beyond the physical body.

And therefore, extending beyond conscious experience, might view self as a self-contained network, others, more pragmatic in nature. See self as a function or a role. This can be really narrow right thinking of the self as a cog in the workplace machine or it can be broader you know thinking of the self as a rational agent who has they duty to reach?

Ethical conclusions is a depiction of self as a role. In my view, we could think of the self as a set of intersectional identities that we see a lot of writing along those lines in the current context. So, me as intersectional identities, I am male. I am old and reasonably old.

I speak English. I'm cisgendered. I'm white or pale pink and I live in Canada. You see all these intersecting different identities. And so the self could be thought of as the totality of all of those or the self could be thought of as a set of memories. Either on the one hand, my current set of memories of myself, or on the other hand of my self as others perceive me.

And remember me? And which allows me to continue as a self after. My physical existence has ended many different ways of thinking about self and as a result, many different ways of thinking about. How do we how we come to know things about ourselves? For example, what we consider right, what we consider wrong, what we consider just what we consider unjust or fair and unfair or even?

Yeah. Maybe different ways of expressing this. A lot of the discussion in recent years, has focused around what might be called the social construction of self. And I refer to, for example, Alistair McIntyre's, work after virtue which offers a constructionist point of view. It's also summarized, in in Ken Griggs article and and even, you know, aspects of ourself like gender can be thought of as socially constructed, consider Simone to both war looking at self them and realizing.

Well, men have claimed self-dome for themselves which leads women left out of even the possibility of having a self hence the second sex, right? The second type of self, the second type of identity. And when we look at it that way, then all of these different ways of looking at, self can be thought of as not inherently the case, but something that we have socially constructed better.

As, as McIntyre, says, culturally and historically situated, once conception of self and indeed ones moral integrity, he writes emerges from ones, narrative of self. Now, bracket narrative is a very specific way of describing a representation in language using physical symbols, but we could broaden that out, right? It doesn't have to be a narrative.

It could be any kind of representational system. Gergen says when a fundamental distinction between self and other is established, which is what we do with our words, our pronouns, the way we interact with each other, then the social world is constituted in terms of differences. We don't see ourselves all as part of one thing, we are, we see ourselves.

According to the way, we're different from each other, but we're not inherently different from each other. It's just the way our representation of self has been constructed owners. A lot of validity to that, there's a lot of validity to social constructionism generally and a significant number of the concepts that we have about the self.

And therefore about ethics can be thought of, as socially constructed hence writing about quote, inventing, right? And wrong, drawing a little more from the feminist approach. We can also go back to levaguski and even ludvigenstein and talk about self as defined in terms of the relation to others. What is a relational identity?

Well here is just a study on quote youth youths perspectives on their relational identity development through residential treatment. The relational identities defined as being authentic and real being vulnerable acceptings, empathy honesty, accountability, gratitude and humor. These are different ways and maybe here, virtuous ways of relating with others. But the idea is that it's an alternative as Gergen says to the dominant conception of mind, independent from social processes for by gutsky individuals are inextricably related bound to each other and to their physical surrounds, you know?

And it raises the question, even whether we could even eliminate the self entirely from language. Then, just think of that as a mental exercise, right? Instead of saying I'm hungry, just say hunger instead of saying on thirsty, just say thirsty, drink walk to store, you know, you don't literally need a noun in a sentence.

Leave the whole subject, predicate, object construction that we've developed in language, is a social construction and to a large degree in artificial construction. Now, a lot of philosophers say that social construction language is also how we think, right? The structure of language is the structure of cognition, That is where I disagree with them.

But I don't agree though, I don't disagree the languages of social construction, I mean, what else could it be right? Something we're born with. I don't know them. Trumps you would say that, but I don't think really anyone else is saying that, so that leaves us with some roots.

If we take the critical approach which I have classified. Here is critical pedagogy based on something like social constructionism. Something like the recognition that these categories of right and wrong good and bad just and unjust, etc, or social constructions, and indeed are understanding of self who we are. What we are are based on social constructions.

Then there are two major routes that we could follow this. Probably not all and only these two routes. But these are the two routes that I see in the literature. Most often follow at the root most often followed, especially in the field of ethics in learning analytics and AI is the root of social activism.

The root that I'm going to follow will not dismissing. The root of social activism is the root of personal reflection, but let's look at the social activist root first and we'll see how at least again, in my mind how that brings us to a root of personal reflection. So like I said, nobody agrees on the purpose of education, right?

It's especially constructed thing. So, let's go back to the purpose of education, James Baldwin remember James Baldwin, he writes the purpose of education. Finally is to create in a person, the ability to look at the world for himself. Remember, because the man have claimed personhood for themselves. Look at the world for himself to make his own decision.

He also notes, no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around and you know that really does raise the question of, you know, does education really want us to be the ones making these decisions coming to these conclusions about say what is right and wrong for ourselves.

A lot of people say, yeah, that's what we want. We want the rational person in order to make ethical judgments but in practice, maybe not so much. Bell hooks teaching to transgress. She urges teachers to contemplate, quote education as the practice of freedom, as the point of departure, for practice, a phrase originating from the work of Paulo Thrier.

And so what we have here is an approach to education. That isn't simply a capacitive capacity, building approach, but also an approach that has us bringing a lot of ourselves into the practice. Now I have zill problem with that, right? But we need to keep in mind that, you know, it's not the same thing.

Exactly to say that education is an activist discipline, promoting say diversity, inclusion and equity and we're teaching people to make their own decisions. People are not making their own decisions. If we're telling them what their conclusions are, I'm not disagreeing that. What is being recommended? Here is a pretty good path.

And indeed a pathway myself of taking, I'm just pointing out the tension in the way we approach this whoops? Wrong way and that's where care comes in. Right? That's where care becomes something like look, we're not just about indoctrinating these people. Bill hooks again to teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential.

If we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and immediately begin, and that works out to something like self-actualization which is great. But then that works out to sacrificing privilege which may also be great, but may also be viewed negatively by the person in questions.

And then that in turn means to immerse yourself in the work of as many POC person of color, feminist activist, and academic, writers, bloggers podcasters, and tweeters as possible as at least as represented by Julie Felmer. Now, that's not a bad thing, but it's not necessarily a thing. I would recommend to everyone would I Because it's not clear to me that all of society needs to have this particular perspective.

In fact, this person particular perspective is more valuable to us. When there are other perspectives, that it plays off again just and that seems like an odd thing to say, you know. But, you know, it's also a very old thing to say, you know, you can't really understand what freedom is.

And unless you understand what being free is, you can't understand. Justice, without understanding, what injustice is all of these concepts, especially all of these. Ethical concepts are just things. Stand on their own, there are things that stand in all position to something else. And so a lot of what we have to teach about how we understand what is ethical also involves teaching.

What is unethical and if and so far is teaching means experience. It's going to mean at least to some degree. Even the experience of the unethical, you know, like it. I know it's like, you know, you have to understand pain to understand what health is kind of true with no, you know, people who don't feel pain at all or actually you know worse situation than people who do feel pain and still, not a fan of pain, totally not a fan of pain.

But you know, it plays a role of and this brings us back to the self and Identity and who we are and what we are and the role we play. And, you know, hooks rights education, as the practice of freedom will come easy as to. Those of us who believe that our work is not merely to share information, but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students, that's kind of a hard sentence to get at.

I can see the practical implementation of it in things like the feminine quilt in things, like black lives matter and things like, I don't know more, the actual taking up of a cause of form of activism and making that a part of your teaching practice. And again, I got no problem with that.

I think more people should do it, but the doing of it here is reflected not in the student becoming you know, many me, who believes all and only the same things I do the doing of it here because the student having intellectual and perhaps spiritual growth. That's so keen on the spiritual growth part, but I got that it's important to a lot of people to what's wrong way again

I'm recommend people. Go back to Ian Hackings, 1999 work. The social construction of what? Because I think he's really pulled off a good overview of what's going on in social construction isn't generally.

And basically, he identifies four major steps In the first step, step 0, there is something in the present, state of affairs, which will call x, that is taken for granted and appears to be inevitable. The, you know, a marriage is between a man and a woman, for example, or there are two genders male and female or the world is dividing divided into black white, Hispanic and Asia.

These things appear inevitable. You know, we are individuals separated at birth from everyone else. You pick your thing, right? You could apply this to almost anything and hacking lists, a large list of well referenced accounts of social construction. So, for construction of this social construction of that, the constructionist move, if you will, is to say that x, whatever it is need not of existed or need, not be what it is.

In other words, x as it is at present, is not determined by the nature of things. Just not inevitable. We divide ourselves between the self and the other screwed, the way we've structured our language and our pronouns. Especially, I refers to me you refers to you, and we always either use a noun or a pronoun.

Otherwise are sentences. Don't make sense, but it didn't have to be. That way we could have a Star Trek suggest, communicated entirely a metaphors, when the wall falls shockable and a wolf's fall. When the walls fell, we could have communicated entirely in pictures but don't have subjects and object.

All kinds of ways we could have done it and if we had done it differently, we would not regard ourselves as fundamentally independent of and separate from other people or society as a whole. And here, when I say that, I'm speaking from a Western perspective, fully aware that there are some societies already existing on earth, where that sense of separation isn't nearly a significance as the one that I feel and this applies to ethical distinctions that we make as well.

You know, we divide our actions into those actions that are fair and those actions that are unfair and we could say, for example, that giving a person special treatment is unfair, well, we didn't have to be defined fair and unfair that way. And in fact, there are many reasons why we wouldn't.

And so it becomes a matter of argumentation, whether the definition of fair means getting people special treatment or giving people equitable treatment or actually making up for unfairness that may have existed in the past big discussion to have here, right? But there's no inherently right sense of what it means to be fair.

That's why roles for all his good intentions was really engaged in my view in a constructionist project. He imagined a world and then engaged in an act of world building following perhaps Nelson Goodman's, book ways of world making The third step. Once you've recognized that things don't have to be.

That way is to say that the way it is or the way it's thought of is quite bad. Harm is caused by it. Perhaps we might say or it's unjust perhaps we might say, you know what, we count, as quite bad, varies quite a lot in these accounts, but still, and so, for example, when we say there are two genders male female, that's it.

We say looking at the existence of gaze lesbians trans questioning etc. We say well, that way of looking kind of things isn't the right way of looking at things. And the system of pronouns that we have, is inadequate to taking into account this wide range of genders. And, you know, when again, if our pronouns are just simply the way we agree to talk to each other, which pretty much, that's what they are.

Then you can see how you could make the case. That current pronoun uses bad. We should change our pronoun use. And that's what leads us to the third point. We would be much better off if x were done away with this male, female, all and only male, all and only female or, you know, dividing the world into black and white whatever, right particular definition of justice fairness, goodness badness, good consequences, bad consequences, pick your moral category.

Pick your moral value and we could do this with any more category, any more value you know, show how it was constructed show, how the current construction is bad show, how we could make it that much better could do that. Absolutely could do that. And in fact, society taken as a whole taking, as the sum total of all the interactions that we have with each other, and the objects that we create and the objects interactions with them when ourselves, and all of that through time through history, that is exactly what we've done.

We've constructed these things, maybe not intentionally, maybe intentionally it varies but we've constructed these things. And so the argument goes in order to be better, whatever better. It means we should construct it differently. And then then we have a conversation, right? That's the way it works. We have a conversation and then society comes to a consensus.

It's tit. Never comes to a consensus and that's the problem. It never comes to a consensus. We come pretty close right in some cases generally we think cannibalism is bad. Yeah, there's some exceptions, maybe the generally it's a no-go, although maybe if we discovered today a tribe of beings of humans that was completely cut off from the rest of the world.

And incidentally were cannibalists our desire to allow them to lead their lives naturally, you know uninterrefired by the rest of us. As with the original inhabitants of the end of an island, might away our desire to let me all cannibalism from the world, I don't know. I don't know how that would play out.

Happily hasn't come up, but I think, you know, ask a hundred people. We'd get many different answers of how we should approach such a situation.

This thing though, this idea that we basically construct, the world is incredibly powerful, I learned about it. Interestingly first reading the work of loud suit, reading about the year and the yang, right? Leave reading about how all the differences that we make lightened dark good and bad valuable not valuable are interpretations that we bring to the world.

However, the world might happen to be and it's an intuition. I think that you know appeals to a lot of people and can be appealing take for example a bowl of wax this bowl of wax you're wondering. It's the result of me mashing baby bell coatings over the course of several weeks and then trying to cut it with the string.

It is neither good nor bad it is not inherently good. It is not inherently bad and you think well yeah it's but it's a baby bill. Who cares or just baby bill wax. Oh I thought about that you know I thought well maybe baby bill wax has an environmental cost and I should reduce my consumption of baby bill I don't know but more to the point things that we are that we do think are bad like volcanoes and tigers and earthquakes and floods aren't seeing inherently good or bad.

They're good and bad because that's how we interpret them. We interpret them that way. Pretty naturally right here. I mean volcanoes gonna kill you. Yeah, you're gonna have a negative reaction to that, but it's not. Because of volcano is bad. We don't think I guess there were societies who thought that?

Maybe people still think that. But I think today we don't ascribe moral agency to the volcano. It just is. And the bagness is the way it interacts with us. Namely it kills us and this is or David Chalmers. The last of the great constructionists comes in once you recognize the role that the mind plays in investing things with meaning and with reality.

Because really, that's what we're doing right then. It's easier to invest virtual things with meaning just as much as one can invest physical things with meaning.

And that's where we're getting our idea of ethyl color. Methyl AI. And the AI just is, right? I mean, it's the classic, you know, complex counterpart to the volcano. All right, the AI just is, it's not inherently good. It's not inherently bad. It is our relation to the AI that leads us to interpret it as good or bad.

Take something in AI, might do. And I've used this example before we might use surveillance in order to get gathered data to train the AI. And in the media today, we're reading over and over surveillance is bad. Surveillance is bad, surveillance is bad perhaps in some contacts, but I can give you a whole bunch of examples where surveillance is good.

For example, if somebody is in the process of robbing me at gunpoint, surveillance is good because that might lead a police officer to stop this person from robbing me at gunpoint or if somebody is embezzling money from the government by skimming off, the top of transactions and hiding the money in Panama surveillance is good because this person is stealing from society.

He got my point, right?

The goodness or badness of AI of a particular action of AI is based on our interpretation of the goodness, or badness of the AI, there's two things that are going to come out of that one. Is we need to ask, where does our interpretation of the good news or badness come from?

And the other thing is, is this reflected in some way in the AI and the second thing I think we've already answered in depth and the answer to that is yes, right? Our, ethical judgments, the ones we actually make are the ones that get reflected in a non-sentient manner through AI, right?

If our AI is an ethical it's because we are unethical. No, true ways around that. And so the question is well what does it mean to say? We are ethical or unethical at all right? Nothing to do with rules based on a construction. But why would we construct it this way, rather than that way?

Well, I tend to turn in matters of social construction to people like Vickenstein and Vickenstein did an exhaustive study of language. But I think his exhaustive study is going to apply to pretty much any social construction is just languages of paradigm case of that. And he said, a bunch of useful things about language.

For example, if we ask about the meaning of a sentence or the meaning of a word, right? Victim science says, simply meaning is use what a word means is equivalent to how we use the word, the reason something separate over and above, the use of the word that is, in the meaning of the word and even worse significantly, at least to my mind.

There's nothing inherent in the word. That is, it's meaning. The meaning of the word is, in fact, completely external to the word. The semiotics people probably wouldn't like that description of it because, you know, you have to have a sign, which signifies something and that's where the meaning comes from.

But the signification isn't in the sign. It is in us and specifically in the use of that sign by us. And so language taken as a whole really, is the sum total of all of our actions. Really lead to language or the Vicenstein says to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.

It's a way of being in the world Mullin Hour describes it. We embody and exemplify a way of living to children and young people. We perform a tacit affirmation of certain values, arrangements, and relationships, and language, and sports, and music appreciation, etc, right? It's not just methods. It's it's all of these socially constructed artifacts and I think that is to a large degree.

True. I don't think that that's the whole story because if that is the whole story, then ethics, like language is purely a social phenomenon. And indeed, if you read cryptokeys, interpretation of Vickenstein on rules and private language, he has Vickenstein advancing a skeptical, argument to the effect that language isn't something that's in our head.

It's only in society now, strictly speaking. That's true. We don't have language in our head but also strictly speaking. We can have languaging our head every time. We imagine somebody's saying something or singing, something or writing. Something we have language in our head but it's language as an experience as opposed to language as language.

That's a tough sentence, so they won't expand on that. But that's a tough sentence. Am I recognized that? So, how do we end up embodying? And exemplifying a way of living is it all based on our exposure to culture? I remember having discussions with Rose Grazdanic, many years ago, raising the question.

You do all the things that I think about come from culture, do all the things that I think about come from TV, and radio, and books, and newspapers. And people talking to me. And where is the me in that? And that's a really good question. And I think that, you know, if we're describing sources or causes of our sentiments and our feelings, our knowledge of language, our knowledge of ethics, then we could include all of the experiences of culture that we've had in our life in our lives as sources and causes of that.

But not just those because we're exposed to many other things. I am exposed to trees. A tree is not a cultural phenomenon other identifying a tree as a tree quark tree, you know, using the sign tree to represent that physical object that is a cultural phenomenon, but arguably, the tree itself isn't cultural phenomenon unless it was planted in a certain way it is a, it gets rough, right?

But, you know, there are things like volcanoes and and earthquakes and the ocean and birds. These are cultural creations properly so called presumably that have an independence existence over and above culture at least that's what our experiences of them appear to be. Even though our experiences of them are heavily filtered through this cultural filter.

So, how are we gonna talk about that? Well, here's where I go to Humes moral philosophy because I might talk about the causes of all of these things. The causes of my knowledge of language, the causes of my feelings about ethics, right? But that's distinct from my experience of these things, right?

I have an experience of language. I have an experience of ethics. I have an experience of lots of things. I have an experience of phones. I have an experience of lenses. I'm not currently having an experience of a lens cap because of lost it. Oh no, that's on it.

These to me are sensations experiences sensations, broadly conceived. We can call these to passions when Hume says passions, he doesn't need passion as an oh. Oh, he means passions as anything that isn't based in pure reason, the passions are the senses. Plus the sentiments you know are feeling of inertia are feeling of disquiet, you know fear trembling whatever.

All of these, these are the passions. Right? So the Humes. First point is and I think I've made this point before but I'll make it again. Reason alone cannot be a motive to the wheel but rather is quote slave of the passions. All right? So what that means is our actions are not based on reason.

Certainly not on reason alone but are rather based on the passions, our senses are experiences, are hopes are fears, our desires, all of these non-reasonable things, that's what's in control. And certainly a lot of people would say well we should have a reason in control but then you get Mr.

Spock of Star Trek, and I think that show has effectively creek. Critique that concept second point, he makes his moral distinctions are not derived, from reason, by moral distinctions, you know, the distinction between good and bad fair, and unfair, just and adjust. Right? And wrong etc. They're not derived from reasons rather, these distinctions in ourselves.

Remember our derived from the moral sentiments and now he has a story here. Need not be a 100% accurate story, but it's good enough, right? The moral sentiments are our feelings of approval which might be reflected in this team or praise and disapproval, which might be expressed. As blame felt by spectators, who contemplate, a character, trait or action.

So there we are, we're out there in the world. We see somebody kick a cat. We have a feeling of revolution about somebody kicking a cat, but this feeling of revulsion comes from perhaps our natural sense that people shouldn't kick cats but also from our exposure to the revolution of many other people who have expressed revulsion at the kicking of a cat.

Yeah, somebody kicks a cat and somebody else says no don't do that. That's that's revolting. And you know over time we acquire that feeling is well doesn't mean there's a general moral principle, you should not kick a cat. I'll tell, I think there should be what it means is, we have a acquired, the feeling that of revulsion with respect to kicking cats, it doesn't even mean that there is a genuine right or wrong to kicking a cat.

I haven't suddenly been granted unique view into reality, you know, it's like I see a person kicking a cat. I can still be skeptical about what I saw. Maybe I saw projection of a person kicking a cat. Maybe I thought I saw somebody kicking a cat but was just the perspective, you know, maybe how was gonna say maybe the cat wanted to be kicked?

Let's not go there. You know, there's questions I could ask about the veracity of my senses. Similarly, there are questions that could be asked about the veracity of my moral judgment and indeed I would argue there is no answer to those questions. Ultimately right there is no answer to the question.

Is it right or wrong to kick a cat right? But what I can say is I really don't like it when I see it and that is the least in part derived from the fact that other people are around me. Really don't like it when they see it doesn't mean we have some sort of unique perspective into the nature of morality.

It's just that among us, we generally agree. Kicking cats, bad thing. And so that's why human says in point four some of these virtues in places in other some of these distinctions are natural like for example and this is where the whole consequentialist moral philosophy becomes from. It's arguable that naturally, we find things that are painful to be wrong and things that are not painful to be right or at least not wrong, but others including justice and many others are artificial.

So it's interesting human has has built in naturalism and constructionism in practically the same sentence, but it doesn't really matter which ones of these are natural and which ones of these are artificial. Because, from our perspective, they're all coming from the same place. The question of whether they're natural or artificial is a question of studying, the causes of the sentiments silent empirical investigation and maybe it might turn out, you know, we are not actually, you know, disemplying to, you know, they're naturally inclined to dislike.

I don't know, volcanoes living a pretty good reason for that. I was. So we're naturally inclined to think the volcanoes are evil, pretty good reasons for that. But the sensation of thinking about volcano is evil is similar and felt the same as the sensation that kicking a cat is evil and it really doesn't matter where it came from.

It's what I've got now, right? This is what I think is, right? This is what I think is wrong. And what's really important? Here is everybody has different experiences. No person has exactly the same exposure to culture as anybody else. No person has exactly the same exposure to the natural world.

As anyone else, you know, there are many differences in our physical construction. Including for example, the difference between being genetically male and genetically female, which may cause us to experience ethics and morality differently or may not. You know, this is an empirical question, but it doesn't matter because simply experiencing.

It doesn't mean we have some sort of special access to the truth, assuming that there is a truth in this question. I don't think there is. So, where does that leave us? It leaves us to a view of ethics, but it is based on a concept of moral sentiment.

In other words and ethics. That is basically learned through experience Not as general principles, not as theories, not even as large representational, schemes or moral models or social contracts, or any of that. But point by point, by point experience, and these experiences are often experienced at a sub-symbolic level.

What I mean by that is when we look at the world, we don't see the sentence, Fred kicked the cat, right? That's an interpretation. What comes into? Our head is just a bunch of neural stimulations and so it might go through our head from beginning to end, right? From the actual sensation of something to the actual feeling that something is wrong and I never be represented by words or sentences at all in our head.

If I think most words do that, so it's not a subject of rationality, at least not in the conscience, not in the sense of premises and conclusions and axioms and inferences and representational systems, you could argue that it's a matter of rationality. But now the rationale that we're talking about is a recognition of probability and similarities based on patterns in billions of individual variables.

So laying there on network does, right? And so, how we react in a particular case and this is important in this brings us back to the ethics of care, is the result of these multiple simultaneous factors? When we look at somebody kick a cat, we think about how the cat must feel because we have this kind of projection of cat like sense it.

Whatever our projection is, we think about times we were kicked, we think about wider cases, where random violence was altered in bad things. We think of the times other people upset, you shouldn't ever kick a cat and maybe that significant moment in our childhood where our father looked down on a sit, you never kick a cat really significant experience but not one that everyone has, right?

And that's how we react. In the particular case, we rocked and reacting the particular case in a certain way because of the background because of the experiences that we've had and we can classify some of the factors related to how we react as ethical factors. So that leaves us with an environment of world, where we will not have agreement on ethics.

We might have broad areas of overlap. We certainly have activism which is an effort to influence the experiences that we have, but even those who are involved in activism, I think are aware that, you know, it's one thing to be activists, it's another thing to be a propagandaist, it's another thing to exercise mind control, right?

And there's the sense I think on the part of most activists that the decisions that people may make the experiences that people have and the actions that they undertake ought to be free and not controlled by the activists. Now, again, depending on your background, you might vary in this inclination, fascists tend to want to have more control over how you react moreally than I was going to say libertarians but they seem to want to control how you react morally as well.

So I'll say not unfascists. So the ethical practices from the perspective of ourselves has to take this. As the starting point, The starting point is, there are no universal ethical values, but I'm stuck and we could say it that way. I'm stuck with this ethical sense. I'm stuck with moral sentiment.

I am going to react to events in the world from the perspective of they are right? And they are wrong. Some of these reactions will be based on culture. Some of these reactions may be based on my nature a little probably not many of them. Some of them will be based on contacts, some of them.

Perhaps, a lot of them will be based on my relation with other people. What I know about other people, etc. All kinds of factors are going to come into play. But in the end my moral sensation just is what it is, I feel what I feel I see when I see doesn't mean that I have some access to the ultimate nature of the world.

It's just, I see what I see. I feel what I feel and that's what the starting point. Has to be. It sounds like an impossible case, doesn't it? But I think if we can get to this point, all I need is one video, one part of a module to get us toward ethical practices.

In in a general sense, not just with respect to artificial intelligence and analytics, but definitely with respect to that. So I'm going to leave the video here. One more video to go where I talk about the practice of ethics. For an individual in a world where there is no ultimate truth about ethics, talk to yours, talk to you, then I'm Stephen Downs.

Thank you.