What makes any agent a moral agent? Reflections on machine consciousness and moral agency

International Journal of Machine Consciousness 5 (2):105-129 (2013)
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In this paper, we take moral agency to be that context in which a particular agent can, appropriately, be held responsible for her actions and their consequences. In order to understand moral agency, we will discuss what it would take for an artifact to be a moral agent. For reasons that will become clear over the course of the paper, we take the artifactual question to be a useful way into discussion but ultimately misleading. We set out a number of conceptual pre-conditions for being a moral agent and then outline how one should — and should not — go about attributing moral agency. In place of a litmus test for such an agency — such as Allen et al.'s Moral Turing Test — we suggest some tools from the conceptual spaces theory and the unified conceptual space theory for mapping out the nature and extent of that agency



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Blay Whitby
University of Sussex

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