Debunking (the) Retribution (Gap)

Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (3):1315-1328 (2020)
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Abstract

Robotization is an increasingly pervasive feature of our lives. Robots with high degrees of autonomy may cause harm, yet in sufciently complex systems neither the robots nor the human developers may be candidates for moral blame. John Danaher has recently argued that this may lead to a retribution gap, where the human desire for retribution faces a lack of appropriate subjects for retributive blame. The potential social and moral implications of a retribution gap are considerable. I argue that the retributive intuitions that feed into retribution gaps are best understood as deontological intuitions. I apply a debunking argument for deontological intuitions in order to show that retributive intuitions cannot be used to justify retributive punishment in cases of robot harm without clear candidates for blame. The fundamental moral question thus becomes what we ought to do with these retributive intuitions, given that they do not justify retribution. I draw a parallel from recent work on implicit biases to make a case for taking moral responsibility for retributive intuitions. In the same way that we can exert some form of control over our unwanted implicit biases, we can and should do so for unjustifed retributive intuitions in cases of robot harm.

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Citations of this work

Artificial intelligence and responsibility gaps: what is the problem?Peter Königs - 2022 - Ethics and Information Technology 24 (3):1-11.
There Is No Techno-Responsibility Gap.Daniel W. Tigard - 2020 - Philosophy and Technology 34 (3):589-607.
Tragic Choices and the Virtue of Techno-Responsibility Gaps.John Danaher - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (2):1-26.
Moralization and Mismoralization in Public Health.Steven R. Kraaijeveld & Euzebiusz Jamrozik - 2022 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 25 (4):655-669.

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The extended mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
A Darwinian dilemma for realist theories of value.Sharon Street - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 127 (1):109-166.
Ethics and Intuitions.Peter Singer - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):331-352.
Responsibility for implicit bias.Jules Holroyd - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (3).

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