The Ethics of Accident-Algorithms for Self-Driving Cars: an Applied Trolley Problem?

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5):1275-1289 (2016)

Authors
Sven Nyholm
Eindhoven University of Technology
Abstract
Self-driving cars hold out the promise of being safer than manually driven cars. Yet they cannot be a 100 % safe. Collisions are sometimes unavoidable. So self-driving cars need to be programmed for how they should respond to scenarios where collisions are highly likely or unavoidable. The accident-scenarios self-driving cars might face have recently been likened to the key examples and dilemmas associated with the trolley problem. In this article, we critically examine this tempting analogy. We identify three important ways in which the ethics of accident-algorithms for self-driving cars and the philosophy of the trolley problem differ from each other. These concern: the basic decision-making situation faced by those who decide how self-driving cars should be programmed to deal with accidents; moral and legal responsibility; and decision-making in the face of risks and uncertainty. In discussing these three areas of disanalogy, we isolate and identify a number of basic issues and complexities that arise within the ethics of the programming of self-driving cars.
Keywords Trolley Problem  Self-driving cars  Algorithms  Accident-algorithms  Risk
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-016-9745-2
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 40,183
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Turning the Trolley.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 2008 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 36 (4):359-374.
Autonomous Cars: In Favor of a Mandatory Ethics Setting.Jan Gogoll & Julian F. Müller - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (3):681-700.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 20 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Trouble with Teaching Ethics on Trolley Cars and Train Tracks.Scott Seider - 2009 - Journal of Moral Education 38 (2):219-236.
Making Road Traffic Safer: Reply to Ori.Sven Ove Hansson - 2014 - Philosophical Papers 43 (3):365-375.
The Moral Case for Intelligent Speed Adaptation.Jilles Smids - 2015 - Journal of Applied Philosophy.
Automotive Emotions.M. Sheller - 2004 - Theory, Culture and Society 21 (4-5):221-242.
Automobilities.M. Featherstone - 2004 - Theory, Culture and Society 21 (4-5):1-24.
Die Rolle Ferdinand Porsches bei der Entwicklung ziviler und militärischer Elektrofahrzeuge zwischen 1900 und 1945.Thomas Köppen - 1993 - NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 1 (1):219-236.
Light Trucks, Road Safety and the Environment.Nicholas Dixon - 2002 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 9 (2):59-67.
The Trolley Problem Mysteries.Eric Rakowski (ed.) - 2015 - Oxford University Press USA.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-07-06

Total views
258 ( #21,750 of 2,237,462 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
71 ( #7,118 of 2,237,462 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature