We make decisions constantly, big and small, that affect our lives and the lives of those around us. Spending some time thinking about how we make decisions is, arguably, time well spent. At this campfire discussion, we are going to chat about decision making – how we think/feel that we do it, what (if any) consideration we give to the “known” pitfalls of the default processes humans use to make decisions, and whether we feel there are different types of decisions and ethical considerations are only relevant in some circumstances – or is it a case of “whose ethics apply”?
To support this month’s event, two short videos from The Ethics Centre have been selected:
Peer-reviewed research tells us that we have while we have lots of evidence showing that decision making involves communication between the prefrontal cortex (working memory) and hippocampus (long-term memory), other regions of the brain play an essential part in the process – but their exact mechanisms are still unknown1 . Work done by Tremblay et al 2 looks at the social aspects of decision making, asking readers of their paper to consider the following scenario:
You step into a busy outdoor market on a Saturday afternoon to purchase some fresh fruit from a local farmer. You are looking for a particular vendor with whom you have done business before, and whom you know is open to concede some discounts if you buy a lot of fruit. Upon arrival you notice that the vendor is in a bad mood and that his fruits are not particularly appealing. You vacillate between bargaining with him for a lower price and switching to another vendor who might be more willing to offer a better deal. But you also fear that if your preferred vendor sees you dealing with his competitor this might impair the privileged relationship you have with him.
How do our cognitive bias’, moral intuitions, and ethical judgements – and our awareness of these things – impact on how we might re/act in situations similar to the provided similar scenario?
The Ethics Centre is an independent not-for-profit that advocates for a more ethical society. 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of The Ethics Centre, which aims to diagnose, prevent and cure the sources of ethical failure, to increase ethical literacy through education and information, and develop tools to empower good decision making.
They have a free 5-week introduction to ethics course that you can subscribe to by visiting https://ethics.org.au/ethics-unboxed/
- Saberi Moghadam, S., Samsami Khodadad, F., & Khazaeinezhad, V. (2019). An Algorithmic Model of Decision Making in the Human Brain. Basic and clinical neuroscience, 10(5), 443–449. https://doi.org/10.32598/bcn.9.10.395 Plain Language summary available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7149951/
- Tremblay, S., Sharika, K. M., & Platt, M. L. (2017). Social Decision-Making and the Brain: A Comparative Perspective. Trends in cognitive sciences, 21(4), 265–276. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2017.01.007
Alternate link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800770/