Introduction to the Duty of Care


Unedited audio transcript from Google Recorder

This module's titled, the duty of care and this particular presentation is introduction to the duty of care and I'm doing double duty by doing the presentation and our conversation section, which creates confusion for the course archives later. But I'll work that out later.

So where we start when we start talking about, the duty of care is worth, what might be called data ethics of power. It's kind of where we left off when we were talking about, approaches to ethics and especially, you know, who speaks for us when we're talking about ethics.

And, you know, this, this particular paper that I'm referring to talks about data ethics, it could be talking about ethics generally and gray, hasselback rates, a data of ethics, a data. Ethics of power can be described as a type of post modernist or in essence vitalist, call for specific, kind of ethical action to free.

The living slash human being from the constraints of the practices of control embedded in the technological, infrastructures of modernity. That at the same time, reduce the value of the human being, which is a bit of a mouthful, but I think we can get a sense of what gray is after here.

By. Well, I mean, in the words of one Danish minister at the launch of a data, ethics expert group, he says, this is about what society we want. And you know maybe the the scholars of history would say that we're progressing toward a more liberal and more progressive society.

But I think also if we're gonna look at it that way, we're progressing toward a society where individuals are more free but more free can be discussed and then define in a variety of ways. It's not really helpful. But the idea here is to try to define ethics and to try to define the society that we want as something that is more human election reaction to not only new technology and surveillance and things like that, but it's a reaction to industrial an industrialization in general to technocracy in general perhaps even to the military industrial complex and to the dynamics of the modern nation state, which are all about management control, hierarchy, and power.

And this is a reaction to that. So what does that reaction look like? Well, it's a move away from what Robert knows. It called coercive philosophy and in coercive philosophy, as he says, arguments are power and best, when they are not down arguments for you to a conclusion. Now, we know that this isn't the case, you know, we've learned as we've all all of society or at least that part of society, that's connected has engaged in this process of our argument.

That sometimes the opposite is the fact they, the argument doesn't force anyone to a conclusion. If anything, it forces, people who disagree with you to retrench, you know, it's like what we see with a lot of the the radical our alt right sites, like parlor, parlors a site that was set up by Neil conservatives as a response to Facebook and Twitter, they were responding against what they perceived a censorship and so set up their own website.

And the thing is, if you engage in arguments with the proprietors of a site, like parlor, you're actually doing what they would like, you're not convincing them that they're wrong, rather you are granting them legitimacy and if you will actually feeding the beast, that's why they say, you know, don't feed the trolls of getting into an argument is what they want, and it's hard to come to grips with this idea that, you know, our agreement fails.

But it does tell us that, you know, moral and ethical values are in a certain sense. Different from and perhaps deeper than argument and Sherita is joining us today. So, we'll just give Sherita a couple of seconds here to join. And she will see, as soon as she's able to see, which I assume is now that I've started in on a short presentation, beginning with the introduction of the duty to care introduction to the duty of cares.

Try that? Right. Talking about the reaction to data ethics of power. Where this new type of ethics is post, modernist or even vitalist to free. The human being from the constraints of the practices of control and try to define the sort of society that we want. And this society that we want is something that is beyond our argument as we've seen in the past in our experience of trolls and the information wars getting into arguments, with the other side of is often just what the other side wants.

You're just feeding the trolls, feeding the beast. So what does this new kind of society look like, well, with respect to something like parlor and, and perhaps similar sites, we have no real obligation to try argue for our views or convince some of anything, the response I think has been mostly that we can recognize parallel for what it is and the platform the site, simply because we find it repugna repugnant and offensive.

And if you don't like the example of parlor, pick your other pick your own example right you can find something thats repugnant and offensive and say, okay? Well, we'll be platform that, and that's what leads us in to something like an ethics of care. Now, I'm quoting from David Weinberger here, which is, maybe exactly the wrong sort of person.

I should be quoting for the first mention really of ethics of care. But I'll live with that and really here he says, instead thinking about morality in terms of relationships with distinct and particular individuals to whom we owe some responsibility of care. It takes as it's fundamental and grounding more of behavior, the caring of a mother for a child.

Now, how literally you want to take that? Might be a subject of discussion and debate, but that's the starting point that we're working from here. Okay, looks cash that out a little bit and I've got a train going by here. So everything in the room is shaking, so where we began with this kind of discussion is with a thing called the duty of care which applies to health care professionals.

And I'll start here because it ties back into all of the discussion of ethical codes that we had earlier. And the way ethics sort of reformulated itself into this discussion of ethical code, especially codes for professionals. And these have their basis in what we call a duty of care.

Now it's a legal duty. There's also a moral and ethical and professional aspect to it as well. But the beginning of this is and something called the snail in the bottle case, in 1932 yeah, it actually took place at a restaurant and coffs Harbor where the one person bought a bottle of it.

I think it's root beer or root ale or ginger ale or something like that in a dark bottle, you can see it there. I was sort of hoping that picture of the bottle would tell me what it was. But anyhow, pour out of the bottle and because of glass have a drink, refresh the glass and out pops.

The snail decomposing snail, that's actually happened to me in the past, that would ginger ale and not with a snail, but the same sort of thing, and it's really gross and disgusting and horrible. The question is, I did the people who created and bottled the the ginger beer have any response ability, toward the person, and especially the ill effects suffered by the person who eventually can consume the the beverage and the court decided in a split decision that yes, they did that.

They you know, they had an obligation of care to whoever purchased the product that there was this relationship here and you know, they you couldn't just serve ginger beer and say buyer beware. And that's where it begins. And since then it develops quite a bit and I'm jumping over and we'll in other presentations.

We'll look at more other details. But the idea here is that it develops into A formal legal principle, specifically illegal obligation, and I'm quoting here from YouTube, or from YouTube, from Wikipedia, a legal obligation, which is imposed on an individual, requiring adherence, to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others Now that's quite different from the concept of care with mother and child, and I think we need to keep these two senses in mind.

Because I think in the actual discussion of these, there's a lot of overlap between them, even though we have two distinct perspectives to distinct points of view, the one being the care. Yeah, from the mother's perspective, the other being the care from the professionals perspective books. Runway. So One of the big distinctions I think between them, others care, and a professional care is to whom that care is old here.

I'm quoting from feather. Who's the author of one of these ethical code discussions that we talked about way back in module three writing as a representative of the company, you have one set of responsibilities as a concerned private citizen, you have another set of responsibilities. It's nice when those converge.

But that's not always the case and we see that with professional ethics a lot. And I think we talk about it specifically where a profession like a doctor or a lawyer or whomever say anyone working in a company or for an institution, a school university, the habit responsibility toward their client but they also have a responsibility toward their employer.

And I think we can say here that with this discussion, the attempt is being made to tip the balance away from the formal institutional structure of employment management and toward the clients or the person who was actually in your care.

There's also a story about where care comes from and if you're like me and you're a particularly analytic and you want to know where things come from and what causes things and how everything works, you're sitting there and you're saying right off the bat. Well what do you mean by care?

I know you want all of these definitions of care and I can have, you know, another one of my database things with all the different elements of care. But I also want a sense of what it means in terms of ethics. What if you will? What's the biological story?

So here is a depiction of it and then I stress a depiction of it. First off beginning with the observation that not just humans, but animals in general, maybe not all. But certainly some care for themselves and showcare for others and these behaviors are revolutionaries behaviors. You can see that in a in the relation between a duck and ducklings or a mother cat, and kittens etc, it's not universal you know some animals will just push them out of the nest and say good luck but certainly we do see it, you know?

But it is a discussion to have as to whether care properly. So called something that is unique to humans. I'm inclined to be skeptical about that. This comes from, we are told and attachment, which is essentially dispositions to extend care to others up. This is very, you know, when I use a phrase like dispositions to extend care to others, that's almost like using behaviorist language.

And I don't want to use behaviorist language to describe this, but we'll use that for now. So, okay. Attachment equals care. Right to care for something is to be attached to whatever, perhaps result from attaching to it. So, the gender specific account of care comes from these specific idea that when a mother has a child, or a kitten or whatever rights, the placenta releases hormones, these act on neurons and create something like a nesting urge.

Now, I cannot attest to the accuracy of that biological principle, right? I am not a biologist, and I never will be a biologist. So, I'm depending very much on secondary, third, hand sources for this, but it is plausible. Prima facie that there are psychological effects from giving birth. It would shock me if there weren't but you know, again not having the expertise in the subject, I can't comment antenna on it a whole lot with this results, in almost a convergence of self-interest and interest to others.

Or is that characterized it here? Where protect myself tactics feel the same as protect mine tactics and I think that's that's the important thing here, right? I've told a biological story, but if I were going to tell a story about ethics here, it's not going to be a kind of biological naturalism.

This is a theory that might explain where it comes from, but where it comes from, doesn't tell us what it is. It just tells us where it comes from and I think the actual ethical importance here is how these things feel, right? How you know, leave these social animals carrying for each other.

Actually feel about each other. What attachment feels like? Is that a sensation? What does the sensation of attachment? Feel like and similarly, you know, what does the protect mowing sensation feel like and that will form the basis for our ethics. I think. But we have to go aways to get to that a way of characterizing, it is as empathy.

Yeah, I'm not really going to say that empathy is captures, all and only care, but the reason aspect there and, you know, we can get an intuit intuitive sense as to what we mean, when we talk of ethics, as empathy when people talk about empathy, they're not talking about following rules, they're not talking about making arguments, they're not talking about adhering to principles, you know, they're not even talking about standards of behavior or anything like that.

It's captured in this quote from Albert Kamu, the plague. This whole thing is not about heroism, it's about decency, right? And this idea, this sense of basic decency, this sense of basic empathy for others is, probably closer to what we mean by a duty of care. Again, I'm glossing over a lot here because this is just an introduction.

But we'll look at. Look at that and more detail. So in the literature we got various dimensions of care and so yeah, here I am the analytic who actually didn't slice and dice it. But again I'm not going to consider all of this definitive of care. And I'm not even going to say that these are separate and distinct properties of care.

All I'm going to say is that these are words or concepts that came up in the literature when people were trying to define what they meant by care. And so they mean things like empathy so justice equity, cultural responsiveness inclusion empowerment and I can probably add more and and we you know, let me be one of the things that we think about in this module, you know, what are these dimensions of care?

Does it make sense to draw them out and list them? Can we talk about what they look like? And both the are feeling of care and the name, the practice of care when subject when it comes up and I alluded to it briefly earlier when I asked, whether care is essentially human.

And of course, I was comparing humans with animals here. But a question that can be asked, is whether a care is restricted to biological life for carbon-based life Maria, Prig contests, the view that care is something that only humans do not reading for my review on Amazon, and argues, for extending to non-humans the consideration of agencies and communities, that make the living web of care, by considering how care, circulates in the natural world.

And there are various approaches to understanding care. That suggests that this may be possible. Now, this is this points to a bit of a dilemma in the concept of care, right? If you think that care has as basis in a maternal instinct, then it's something that really is not possible for computers, because we can't really think of computers as having a maternal instinct.

But if you think of care as a feeling that can be described as a result of various sensations, then maybe that is something that a machine can have. Or if you become more instrumentalist, or functionalist or operationalist and you think of care, not so much as the sensations. But rather the practice the attitudes and and even the mechanisms then, clearly care.

Something that can be done by a machine. And part of this is how much either of these things matter, right? Does it matter? If the feeling of care accompanies, the practice of care, or can you conduct the practice of care, without the feeling of care? And if I find that in the interesting question, in our field, a lot of this and and frankly still at a fairly superficial level leads us into something that we can call a pedagogy of care and quoting from Mahabali here who's written about it.

And she puts a pedagogy of care into terms of equity and justice saying one of the most empowering ways to reduce justice is to put power of decision, making into the hands of those furthest from justice. Then this takes a back to the very beginning where we were talking about data ethics of power.

And so it's a question of is care something to do with the power of relationship is care something to do with the nurture and relationship is care something to do with the sensation or feeling. So what will do in this module is basically go through these. I'm not going to call them arguments, because that's not the right way to think of this go through these different accounts of what we mean by care.

And what we think care is to try to come out with something like a coherent story about care. And I think it's, it's only going to be a story, you know? I mean, I don't think we're going to have a full blown theory, with laws rules and principles, but maybe we can approach an understanding of what we mean by ethics.

When we talk about ethics and analytics from the perspective of duty of care. So that's my intro. So I'll stop sharing slides and get your responses to that.