Autonomous Cars: In Favor of a Mandatory Ethics Setting

Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (3):681-700 (2017)
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The recent progress in the development of autonomous cars has seen ethical questions come to the forefront. In particular, life and death decisions regarding the behavior of self-driving cars in trolley dilemma situations are attracting widespread interest in the recent debate. In this essay we want to ask whether we should implement a mandatory ethics setting for the whole of society or, whether every driver should have the choice to select his own personal ethics setting. While the consensus view seems to be that people would not be willing to use an automated car that might sacrifice themselves in a dilemma situation, we will defend the somewhat contra-intuitive claim that this would be nevertheless in their best interest. The reason is, simply put, that a PES regime would most likely result in a prisoner’s dilemma.



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