David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
North Carolina Law Review 70:1231 (1992)
Could an artificial intelligence become a legal person? As of today, this question is only theoretical. No existing computer program currently possesses the sort of capacities that would justify serious judicial inquiry into the question of legal personhood. The question is nonetheless of some interest. Cognitive science begins with the assumption that the nature of human intelligence is computational, and therefore, that the human mind can, in principle, be modelled as a program that runs on a computer. Artificial intelligence (AI) research attempts to develop such models. But even as cognitive science has displaced behavioralism as the dominant paradigm for investigating the human mind, fundamental questions about the very possibility of artificial intelligence continue to be debated. This Essay explores those questions through a series of thought experiments that transform the theoretical question whether artificial intelligence is possible into legal questions such as, "Could an artificial intelligence serve as a trustee?" What is the relevance of these legal thought experiments for the debate over the possibility of artificial intelligence? A preliminary answer to this question has two parts. First, putting the AI debate in a concrete legal context acts as a pragmatic Occam's razor. By reexamining positions taken in cognitive science or the philosophy of artificial intelligence as legal arguments, we are forced to see them anew in a relentlessly pragmatic context. Philosophical claims that no program running on a digital computer could really be intelligent are put into a context that requires us to take a hard look at just what practical importance the missing reality could have for the way we speak and conduct our affairs. In other words, the legal context provides a way to ask for the "cash value" of the arguments. The hypothesis developed in this Essay is that only some of the claims made in the debate over the possibility of AI do make a pragmatic difference, and it is pragmatic differences that ought to be decisive. Second, and more controversially, we can view the legal system as a repository of knowledge-a formal accumulation of practical judgments. The law embodies core insights about the way the world works and how we evaluate it. Moreover, in common-law systems judges strive to decide particular cases in a way that best fits the legal landscape-the prior cases, the statutory law, and the constitution. Hence, transforming the abstract debate over the possibility of AI into an imagined hard case forces us to check our intuitions and arguments against the assumptions that underlie social decisions made in many other contexts. By using a thought experiment that explicitly focuses on wide coherence, we increase the chance that the positions we eventually adopt will be in reflective equilibrium with our views about related matters. In addition, the law embodies practical knowledge in a form that is subject to public examination and discussion. Legal materials are published and subject to widespread public scrutiny and discussion. Some of the insights gleaned in the law may clarify our approach to the artificial intelligence debate.
|Keywords||Chinese Room Artificial Intelligence AI Personhood Legal Personhood Moral Personhood Jurisprudence Philosophy of Law|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Ugo Pagallo (2011). Robots of Just War: A Legal Perspective. Philosophy and Technology 24 (3):307-323.
Giovanni Sartor (2009). Cognitive Automata and the Law: Electronic Contracting and the Intentionality of Software Agents. [REVIEW] Artificial Intelligence and Law 17 (4):253-290.
Ugo Pagallo (2011). Killers, Fridges, and Slaves: A Legal Journey in Robotics. [REVIEW] AI and Society 26 (4):347-354.
Similar books and articles
Arno R. Lodder (2004). Book Review: Pamela N. Gray Artificial Legal Intelligence, Darmouth, Aldershot, England, 1997, (ISBN 1-85521-266-8). [REVIEW] Artificial Intelligence and Law 12 (3):231-238.
Hans F. M. Crombag (1993). On the Artificiality of Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence and Law 2 (1):39-49.
J. C. Smith, Daphne Gelbart, Keith Maccrimmon, Bruce Atherton, John Mcclean, Michelle Shinehoft & Lincoln Quintana (1995). Artificial Intelligence and Legal Discourse: The Flexlaw Legal Text Management System. [REVIEW] Artificial Intelligence and Law 3 (1-2):55-95.
Jaap Hage (2000). Dialectical Models in Artificial Intelligence and Law. Artificial Intelligence and Law 8 (2-3):137-172.
Pompeu Casanovas Romeu (ed.) (2007). Trends in Legal Knowledge: The Semantic Web and the Regulation of Electronic Social Systems: Papers From the B-4 Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Law, May 25th- 27th 2005: Xxii World Congress of Philosophy Ivr '05 Granada, May 24th-29th 2005. [REVIEW] European Press Academic Pub..
Peter Wahlgren (1992). Automation of Legal Reasoning: A Study on Artificial Intelligence and Law. Kluwer Law and Taxation Publishers.
Howard Turtle (1995). Text Retrieval in the Legal World. Artificial Intelligence and Law 3 (1-2):5-54.
Alan L. Tyree (2000). James Popple, a Pragmatic Legal Expert System. Applied Legal Philosophy Series. Artificial Intelligence and Law 8 (1):67-74.
Go Eguchi & Laurence L. Leff (2002). Rule-Based XML. Artificial Intelligence and Law 10 (4):283-294.
Francisco Andrade, Paulo Novais, José Machado & José Neves (2007). Contracting Agents: Legal Personality and Representation. [REVIEW] Artificial Intelligence and Law 15 (4):357-373.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads39 ( #42,939 of 1,098,984 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #114,795 of 1,098,984 )
How can I increase my downloads?