Robot Morals and Human Ethics [Book Review]

Teaching Ethics 11 (1):87-92 (2010)
Building artificial moral agents (AMAs) underscores the fragmentary character of presently available models of human ethical behavior. It is a distinctly different enterprise from either the attempt by moral philosophers to illuminate the “ought” of ethics or the research by cognitive scientists directed at revealing the mechanisms that influence moral psychology, and yet it draws on both. Philosophers and cognitive scientists have tended to stress the importance of particular cognitive mechanisms, e.g., reasoning, moral sentiments, heuristics, intuitions, or a moral grammar, in the making of moral decisions. However, assembling a system from the bottom-up which is capable of accommodating moral considerations draws attention to the importance of a much wider array of mechanisms in honing moral intelligence. Moral machines need not emulate human cognitive faculties in order to function satisfactorily in responding to morally significant situations. But working through methods for building AMAs will have a profound effect in deepening an appreciation for the many mechanisms that contribute to a moral acumen, and the manner in which these mechanisms work together. Building AMAs highlights the need for a comprehensive model of how humans arrive at satisfactory moral judgments.
Keywords Computers   Decision making   Emotions   Machine ethics   Moral agent   Moral judgment   Moral philosophy   Moral psychology   Robots   Virtues
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DOI 10.1007/s10676-010-9232-8
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