Android arete: Toward a virtue ethic for computational agents [Book Review]

Ethics and Information Technology 3 (4):247-265 (2001)
Traditional approaches to computer ethics regard computers as tools, andfocus, therefore, on the ethics of their use. Alternatively, computer ethicsmight instead be understood as a study of the ethics of computationalagents, exploring, for example, the different characteristics and behaviorsthat might benefit such an agent in accomplishing its goals. In this paper,I identify a list of characteristics of computational agents that facilitatetheir pursuit of their end, and claim that these characteristics can beunderstood as virtues within a framework of virtue ethics. This frameworkincludes four broad categories – agentive, social, environmental, and moral– each of which can be understood as a spectrum of virtues rangingbetween two extreme subcategories. Although the use of a virtue frameworkis metaphorical rather than literal, I argue that by providing a frameworkfor identifying and critiquing assumptions about what a `good' computer is,a study of android arete provides focus and direction to the developmentof future computational agents.
Keywords android arete  computer ethics  robot  software agent  softbot  virtue ethics
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DOI 10.1023/A:1013805017161
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