Welcoming Robots into the Moral Circle: A Defence of Ethical Behaviourism

Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (4):2023-2049 (2020)
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Abstract

Can robots have significant moral status? This is an emerging topic of debate among roboticists and ethicists. This paper makes three contributions to this debate. First, it presents a theory – ‘ethical behaviourism’ – which holds that robots can have significant moral status if they are roughly performatively equivalent to other entities that have significant moral status. This theory is then defended from seven objections. Second, taking this theoretical position onboard, it is argued that the performative threshold that robots need to cross in order to be afforded significant moral status may not be that high and that they may soon cross it (if they haven’t done so already). Finally, the implications of this for our procreative duties to robots are considered, and it is argued that we may need to take seriously a duty of ‘procreative beneficence’ towards robots.

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John Danaher
University College, Galway

Citations of this work

Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.Vincent C. Müller - 2020 - In Edward Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Palo Alto, Cal.: CSLI, Stanford University. pp. 1-70.
Robot Betrayal: A Guide to the Ethics of Robotic Deception.John Danaher - 2020 - Ethics and Information Technology 22 (2):117-128.
The Measurement Problem of Consciousness.Heather Browning & Walter Veit - 2020 - Philosophical Topics 48 (1):85-108.

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References found in this work

Computing Machinery and Intelligence.Alan M. Turing - 1950 - Mind 59 (October):433-60.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Noûs. Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.
Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority.Emmanuel Levinas - 1961 - Distribution for the U.S. And Canada, Kluwer Boston.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 1983 - University of California Press, C1983.

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