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Contribution to Book
The end(s) of critique : data-behaviourism vs. due-process.
Privacy, Due Process and the Computational Turn (2012)
  • Antoinette Rouvroy
This chapter is about a very simple and vertiginous matter. Formulated as an inquiry about the state of knowledge, power and subjects after the computational turn, it turns out as a reformulation of the question of the possibility of critique in an epistemic universe deserted by empirical experiment and deductive, causal logic typical of modern rationality, and with regard to a mode of government which has ceased to presuppose its subjects to be rational, moral, intentional agents and to work through socially experienced categorizations. In other words, I wonder whether it is still possible to practice critical thinking after a computational turn which, despite its pretenses to “objectivity”, appears as a turning away from the ambitions of modern rationality anchored in empirical experiment and deductive – causal- logic, and, despite its promises of individualization and better taking into considération of individual merits, needs, abilities, préférences through pervasive profiling, does not address individuals through their reflexive capabilities, nor through their inscription within collective structures, but merely through their algorithmically produced « profiles ». It will then be argued that what makes critique so difficult to practice vis-à-vis the computational turn we are now experiencing with the gradual and almost viral generalization of data-mining and profiling, is the vanishing of the transversal dimension – essential in the scientific, the judicial and even the existential domains - of “test”, “trial”, examination”, “assessment” or “épreuve”, or even “experience”. The chapter will this present a defense of all these things which usually appear as the weaknesses of regulation by the law and by the judicial system, compared to regulation by the algorithms: ineffectivity, inefficiency, blatedness etc. which are all "creating" temporal space and (judicial) scene where meaning regains autonomy vis-à-vis the pure factuality of "data-behaviourism" while leaving intact the "potency" of the human subject.
  • data-behaviourism,
  • algorithmic governmentality,
  • data mining,
  • subjectivation
Publication Date
Spring May 1, 2012
Mireille Hildebrandt, Ekatarina De Vries (eds.), Privacy, Due Process and the Computational Turn,
Citation Information
Antoinette Rouvroy. "The end(s) of critique : data-behaviourism vs. due-process." in Privacy, Due Process and the Computational Turn. Ed. Mireille Hildebrandt, Ekatarina De Vries, Routledge, 2012. Available at: