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Representative Individuals by FIU Assistant Professor Clinton Castro

This is a past event.

Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 3:45pm to 5:00pm

DM - Deuxieme Maison, 409A
11200 SW 8th ST, Deuxieme Maison, Miami, Florida 33199

The demands of fair machine learning are often expressed in probabilistic terms; yet, most of the systems of concern are deterministic in the sense that whether a given subject will receive a given score on the basis of their traits is, for all intents and purposes, either zero or one. What, then, can justify this probabilistic talk? FIU Philosophy Assistant Professor Clinton Castro argues that it can be justified by attending to morally salient aspects of data-driven decision systems (as opposed to, say, the epistemic limitations of particular agents or the identification of some hidden source of stochasticity) and provide a framework for characterizing fair machine learning in probabilistic terms. Castro's framework identifies the statistical reference classes used in fairness measures with what John Rawls called representative individuals, hypothetical persons who are representative of social positions. He then address the question of how to determine in a principled way which social positions should be represented. Castro identifies, motivates and critically evaluates three possible approaches. The first is causal: a group should be represented if it appears in a causal explanation of inequality. The second is psychological: a group should be represented if individuals subjectively identify with it. The third is moralized: a group should be represented if membership to that group alters themoral evaluation of the inequality, independently of the satisfaction of the two previous conditions


Event Type

Academics, Lectures & conferences


Students, Faculty & Staff



Department of Mathematics and Statistics
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