Submissions/Evaluativism: Strategic concern in authoritative collaborations

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2015 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this July.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
Evaluativism: Strategic concern in authoritative collaborations
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
I can give a presentation, but would be open to other formats
Author of the submission
Christopher Santos-Lang
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The dinnerscene from The Butler provides an excellent example of evaluativism. Cecil and his son Louis each care deeply about civil rights and make important contributions to the movement, but they disagree about how to address it. They cannot reach agreement through discussion because the root of their disagreement is values, not matters of fact. Rather than appreciate this evaluative diversity, as we do the parts of a body, ecosystem, court room, or machine, they find that they simply cannot stand the disagreement. Evaluativism usually manifests (like the closeting of homosexuals) as avoidance of particular topics of conversation, but this dinner scene ends with Louis being kicked-out of his home.

"Evaluativism" and "evaluative diversity" are terms used by philosophers to speak of disagreements not grounded in matters of fact. Mostly unaware of these terms, scientists have traced the mechanics of certain disagreements to differences in algorithms, genes, and brain structure. Decision theorists suggest that such diversity empowers societies, but social scientists have demonstrated that evaluativism is a chief source of human segregation (especially as liberal vs. conservative) and that our evaluativistic biases can be implicit (i.e., we discriminate in practice even when we consciously endorse the theory that diversity is good). In short, evaluativism is treated today much as racism was treated 300 years ago--most people witness it, but do not bother to name, study, or address it.

If Wikimedia projects systematically exclude editors of particular evaluative types, we can expect corresponding failures in those projects (e.g., dogmatism, corruption, obscurity, etc.). If we do not exclude editors of particular types, we can expect internal segregation and conflict. One focus of conflict may be over our treatment of the topic of evaluative diversity itself. For Wikimedia projects to facilitate sharing of information about this topic could put pressure on one-size-fits-all systems of education and government which were designed around the assumption that we are not evaluatively diverse. Furthermore, for Wikimedia projects to succeed in developing new processes to accommodate evaluative diversity might pressure existing institutions to reform by adopting those processes.

The goal of this presentation would be to begin a conversation about how to be self-aware in dealing with evaluativism in Wikimedia projects.

  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
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