Ethical Issues with Artificial Ethics Assistants

In Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)


This chapter examines the possibility of using AI technologies to improve human moral reasoning and decision-making, especially in the context of purchasing and consumer decisions. We characterize such AI technologies as artificial ethics assistants (AEAs). We focus on just one part of the AI-aided moral improvement question: the case of the individual who wants to improve their morality, where what constitutes an improvement is evaluated by the individual’s own values. We distinguish three broad areas in which an individual might think their own moral reasoning and decision-making could be improved: one’s actions, character, or other evaluable attributes fall short of one’s values and moral beliefs; one sometimes misjudges or is uncertain about what the right thing to do is in particular situations, given one’s values; one is uncertain about some fundamental moral questions or recognizes a possibility that some of one’s core moral beliefs and values are mistaken. We sketch why one might think that AI tools could be used to support moral improvement in those areas, and describe two types of assistance: preparatory assistance, including advice and training supplied in advance of moral deliberation; and on-the-spot assistance, including on-the-spot advice and facilitation of moral functioning over the course of moral deliberation. Then, we turn to some of the ethical issues that AEAs might raise, looking in particular at three under-appreciated problems posed by the use of AI for moral self-improvement: namely, reliance on sensitive moral data; the inescapability of outside influences on AEAs; and AEA usage prompting the user to adopt beliefs and make decisions without adequate reasons.

Download options


External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

115 (#104,690)

6 months
115 (#5,385)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Human Side of Artificial Intelligence.Matthew A. Butkus - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (5):2427-2437.
Ethical Machines?Ariela Tubert - 2018 - Seattle University Law Review 41 (4).
Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.John-Stewart Gordon, and & Sven Nyholm - 2021 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Machine Ethics.Michael Anderson & Susan Leigh Anderson (eds.) - 2011 - Cambridge Univ. Press.
Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.Vincent C. Müller - 2021 - In Anthony Elliott (ed.), The Routledge social science handbook of AI. London: Routledge. pp. 122-137.
Artificial Moral Patients: Mentality, Intentionality, and Systematicity.Howard Nye & Tugba Yoldas - 2021 - International Review of Information Ethics 29:1-10.
Embodied Artificial Intelligence Once Again.Anna Sarosiek - 2017 - Philosophical Problems in Science 63:231-240.