What We Informationally Owe Each Other

In Algorithms & Autonomy: The Ethics of Automated Decision Systems. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge University Press. pp. 21-42 (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX


ABSTRACT: One important criticism of algorithmic systems is that they lack transparency. Such systems can be opaque because they are complex, protected by patent or trade secret, or deliberately obscure. In the EU, there is a debate about whether the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) contains a “right to explanation,” and if so what such a right entails. Our task in this chapter is to address this informational component of algorithmic systems. We argue that information access is integral for respecting autonomy, and transparency policies should be tailored to advance autonomy. To make this argument we distinguish two facets of agency (i.e., capacity to act). The first is practical agency, or the ability to act effectively according to one’s values. The second is what we call cognitive agency, which is the ability to exercise what Pamela Hieronymi calls “evaluative control” (i.e., the ability to control our affective states, such as beliefs, desires, and attitudes). We argue that respecting autonomy requires providing persons sufficient information to exercise evaluative control and properly interpret the world and one’s place in it. We draw this distinction out by considering algorithmic systems used in background checks, and we apply the view to key cases involving risk assessment in criminal justice decisions and K-12 teacher evaluation. The link below is to an open access version of the chapter.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Algorithms, Agency, and Respect for Persons.Alan Rubel, Clinton Castro & Adam Pham - 2020 - Social Theory and Practice 46 (3):547-572.
Agency Laundering and Information Technologies.Alan Rubel, Clinton Castro & Adam Pham - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4):1017-1041.
Agency Laundering and Algorithmic Decision Systems.Alan Rubel, Adam Pham & Clinton Castro - 2019 - In N. Taylor, C. Christian-Lamb, M. Martin & B. Nardi (eds.), Information in Contemporary Society (Lecture Notes in Computer Science). Springer Nature. pp. 590-598.
Informed Consent and Relational Conceptions of Autonomy.N. Stoljar - 2011 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 36 (4):375-384.
Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.Vincent C. Müller - 2021 - In Anthony Elliott (ed.), The Routledge social science handbook of AI. London: Routledge. pp. 122-137.
Agency without autonomy: valuational agency.Ranjoo Seodu Herr - 2010 - Journal of Global Ethics 6 (3):239-254.
Bio-Agency and the Possibility of Artificial Agents.Anne Sophie Meincke - 2018 - In Antonio Piccolomini D’Aragona, Martin Carrier, Roger Deulofeu, Axel Gelfert, Jens Harbecke, Paul Hoyningen-Huene, Lara Huber, Peter Hucklenbroich, Ludger Jansen, Elizaveta Kostrova, Keizo Matsubara, Anne Sophie Meincke, Andrea Reichenberger, Kian Salimkhani & Javier Suárez (eds.), Philosophy of Science: Between the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences, and the Humanities. Cham: Springer Verlag. pp. 65-93.
Agency is Distinct from Autonomy.Fred Cummins - 2014 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies (2):98-112.
The role of agency in distributed cognitive systems.Ronald N. Giere - 2006 - Philosophy of Science 73 (5):710-719.
Autonomous Machine Agency.Don Berkich - 2002 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Added to PP

425 (#47,178)

6 months
99 (#46,539)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Clinton Castro
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Alan Rubel
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations