Autonomous Machines, Moral Judgment, and Acting for the Right Reasons

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):851-872 (2015)

Authors
Bradley Strawser
Naval Postgraduate School
Ryan Jenkins
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Duncan Purves
University of Florida
Abstract
We propose that the prevalent moral aversion to AWS is supported by a pair of compelling objections. First, we argue that even a sophisticated robot is not the kind of thing that is capable of replicating human moral judgment. This conclusion follows if human moral judgment is not codifiable, i.e., it cannot be captured by a list of rules. Moral judgment requires either the ability to engage in wide reflective equilibrium, the ability to perceive certain facts as moral considerations, moral imagination, or the ability to have moral experiences with a particular phenomenological character. Robots cannot in principle possess these abilities, so robots cannot in principle replicate human moral judgment. If robots cannot in principle replicate human moral judgment then it is morally problematic to deploy AWS with that aim in mind. Second, we then argue that even if it is possible for a sufficiently sophisticated robot to make ‘moral decisions’ that are extensionally indistinguishable from (or better than) human moral decisions, these ‘decisions’ could not be made for the right reasons. This means that the ‘moral decisions’ made by AWS are bound to be morally deficient in at least one respect even if they are extensionally indistinguishable from human ones. Our objections to AWS support the prevalent aversion to the employment of AWS in war. They also enjoy several significant advantages over the most common objections to AWS in the literature.
Keywords Killing  War  Autonomous  Autonomous weapons  Just war theory  Right reasons  Moral judgment  Driverless cars  Responsibility  Artificial intelligence
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-015-9563-y
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA

Robots, Law and the Retribution Gap.John Danaher - 2016 - Ethics and Information Technology 18 (4):299–309.
Should We Campaign Against Sex Robots?John Danaher, Brian D. Earp & Anders Sandberg - 2017 - In John Danaher & Neil McArthur (eds.), Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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