Artificial virtue: the machine question and perceptions of moral character in artificial moral agents

AI and Society 35 (4):795-809 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Virtue ethics seems to be a promising moral theory for understanding and interpreting the development and behavior of artificial moral agents. Virtuous artificial agents would blur traditional distinctions between different sorts of moral machines and could make a claim to membership in the moral community. Accordingly, we investigate the “machine question” by studying whether virtue or vice can be attributed to artificial intelligence; that is, are people willing to judge machines as possessing moral character? An experiment describes situations where either human or AI agents engage in virtuous or vicious behavior and experiment participants then judge their level of virtue or vice. The scenarios represent different virtue ethics domains of truth, justice, fear, wealth, and honor. Quantitative and qualitative analyses show that moral attributions are weakened for AIs compared to humans, and the reasoning and explanations for the attributions are varied and more complex. On “relational” views of membership in the moral community, virtuous machines would indeed be included, even if they are indeed weakened. Hence, while our moral relationships with artificial agents may be of the same types, they may yet remain substantively different than our relationships to human beings.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,140

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Out of character: on the creation of virtuous machines. [REVIEW]Ryan Tonkens - 2012 - Ethics and Information Technology 14 (2):137-149.
On the Moral Equality of Artificial Agents.Christopher Wareham - 2011 - International Journal of Technoethics 2 (1):35-42.
A challenge for machine ethics.Ryan Tonkens - 2009 - Minds and Machines 19 (3):421-438.
Artificial Moral Agents: Moral Mentors or Sensible Tools?Fabio Fossa - 2018 - Ethics and Information Technology (2):1-12.


Added to PP

45 (#261,523)

6 months
3 (#224,280)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Patrick Gamez
University of Notre Dame

References found in this work

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
Superintelligence: paths, dangers, strategies.Nick Bostrom (ed.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 1983 - University of California Press, C1983.
The case for animal rights.Tom Regan - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Noûs. Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.

View all 36 references / Add more references