Responsibility for Crashes of Autonomous Vehicles: An Ethical Analysis

Science and Engineering Ethics 21 (3):619-630 (2015)
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Abstract

A number of companies including Google and BMW are currently working on the development of autonomous cars. But if fully autonomous cars are going to drive on our roads, it must be decided who is to be held responsible in case of accidents. This involves not only legal questions, but also moral ones. The first question discussed is whether we should try to design the tort liability for car manufacturers in a way that will help along the development and improvement of autonomous vehicles. In particular, Patrick Lin’s concern that any security gain derived from the introduction of autonomous cars would constitute a trade-off in human lives will be addressed. The second question is whether it would be morally permissible to impose liability on the user based on a duty to pay attention to the road and traffic and to intervene when necessary to avoid accidents. Doubts about the moral legitimacy of such a scheme are based on the notion that it is a form of defamation if a person is held to blame for causing the death of another by his inattention if he never had a real chance to intervene. Therefore, the legitimacy of such an approach would depend on the user having an actual chance to do so. The last option discussed in this paper is a system in which a person using an autonomous vehicle has no duty of interfering, but is still held responsible for possible accidents. Two ways of doing so are discussed, but only one is judged morally feasible

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Julian Nida-Rümelin
Humboldt-University, Berlin

References found in this work

Moral Luck.B. A. O. Williams & T. Nagel - 1976 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 50 (1):115-152.
Moral Luck.B. A. O. Williams & T. Nagel - 1976 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 50:115 - 151.
Moral Luck.Thomas Nagel - 1993 - In Daniel Statman (ed.), Moral Luck. State University of New York Press. pp. 141--166.
Moral Luck.B. A. O. Williams & T. Nagel - 1976 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 50 (1):115-152.

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