This article offers an overview of the main first-order ethical questions raised by robots and Artificial Intelligence (RAIs) under five broad rubrics: functionality, inherent significance, rights and responsibilities, side-effects, and threats. The first letter of each rubric taken together conveniently generates the acronym FIRST. Special attention is given to the rubrics of functionality and inherent significance given the centrality of the former and the tendency to neglect the latter in virtue of its somewhat nebulous and contested character. In addition to (...) exploring some illustrative issues arising under each rubric, the article also emphasizes a number of more general themes. These include: the multiplicity of interacting levels on which ethical questions about RAIs arise, the need to recognise that RAIs potentially implicate the full gamut of human values (rather than exclusively or primarily some readily identifiable sub-set of ethical or legal principles), and the need for practically salient ethical reflection on RAIs to be informed by a realistic appreciation of their existing and foreseeable capacities. -/- . (shrink)
[Thomas Hurka] Using Bernard Suits's brilliant analysis of playing a game, this paper examines the intrinsic value of game-playing. It argues that two elements in Suits's analysis make success in games difficult, which is one ground of value, while a third involves choosing a good activity for the property that makes it good, which is a further ground. The paper concludes by arguing that game-playing is the paradigm modern as against classical value: since its goal is intrinsically trivial, its value (...) is entirely one of process rather than product, journey rather than destination. /// [John Tasioulas] This paper contends that play, not achievement, is the primary intrinsic good internal to game-playing, and supports a relational, as opposed to formal, conception of achievement. (shrink)
In philosophical writings, the practice of punishment standardly features as a terrain over which comprehensive moral theories—in the main, versions of ‘consequentialism’ and ‘deontology’—have fought a prolonged and inconclusive battle. The grip of this top-down model of the relationship between philosophical theory and punitive practice is so tenacious that even the most seemingly innocent concern with the ‘consequences’ of punishment is often read, if not as an endorsement of consequentialism, then at least as the registering of a consequentialist point. But (...) to suppose that repentance or crime prevention, for example, are goods that punishment characteristically aims to secure is hardly to endorse the maximization of some value or set of values as the fundamental criterion of moral rightness. Equally, an appeal to desert or rights in the justification of punishment does not commit one to the deontological claim that these norms have a basis independent of human interests. This suggests that the prevalence of the top-down model may owe more to the inertia of established usage, or the temptations of over-intellectualization, than one might initially have supposed. (shrink)
The orthodox conception of human rights holds that human rights are moral rights possessed by all human beings simply in virtue of their humanity. In recent years, advocates of a 'political' conception of human rights have criticized this view on the grounds that it overlooks the distinctive political function performed by human rights. This article evaluates the arguments of two such critics, John Rawls and Joseph Raz, who characterize the political function of human rights as that of potential triggers for (...) intervention by one society against another. (shrink)
The article begins with reflections on the nature, and basis, of human rights considered as moral standards. It recommends an orthodox view of their nature, as moral rights possessed by all human beings simply in virtue of their humanity and discoverable through the workings of natural reason, that makes them strongly continuous with natural rights. It then offers some criticisms of recent attempts to depart from orthodoxy by explicating human rights by reference to the supposedly constitutive connection they bear to (...) the matter of political legitimacy. The second half of the article turns to the legitimacy of international law, with a special focus on international human rights law. An account is sketched of the legitimacy of international law based on the service conception of legitimate authority. The article concludes by discussing three sources of potential limitations on international law’s legitimacy: pluralism, freedom (sovereignty) and exceptionalism. (shrink)
The flourishing of citizen science is an exciting phenomenon with the potential to contribute significantly to scientific progress. However, we lack a framework for addressing in a principled and effective manner the pressing ethical questions it raises. We argue that at the core of any such framework must be the human right to science. Moreover, we stress an almost entirely neglected dimension of this right—the entitlement it confers on all human beings to participate in the scientific process in all of (...) its aspects. We then explore three of its key implications for the ethical regulation of citizen science: the positive obligations imposed by the right on the state and other agents to recognize and promote citizen science, the convective nature of the participation in science facilitated by the right and the potential to mobilize the right in rolling back the unprecedented expansion of intellectual property regimes. (shrink)
Mercy is a form of charity towards wrongdoers that justifies punishing them less severely than they deserve according to justice. Three main objections to mercy, or its exercise by organs of the state-that it is irrational, unjust and procedurally unfair-are addressed in the course of defending mercy as a value that has a place in deliberation about criminal punishment. The paper draws on both the communicative theory of punishment and aspects of existing legal practice in mounting this defence.
This article offers an integrated account of two strands of global health justice: health-related human rights and health-related common goods. After sketching a general understanding of the nature of human rights, it proceeds to explain both how individual human rights are to be individuated and the content of their associated obligations specified. With respect to both issues, the human right to health is taken as the primary illustration. It is argued that the individuation of the right to health is fixed (...) by reference to the subject matter of its corresponding obligations, and not by the interests it serves, and the specification of the content of that right must be properly responsive to thresholds of possibility and burden. The article concludes by insisting that human rights cannot constitute the whole of global health justice and that, in addition, other considerations—including the promotion of health-related global public goods—should also shape such policy. Moreover, the relationship between human rights and common goods should not be conceived as mutually exclusive. On the contrary, there sometimes exists an individual right to some aspect of a common good, including a right to benefit from health-related common goods such as programmes for securing herd immunity from diphtheria. (shrink)
This chapter begins by considering the nature of justice, and then discusses justice as a subjective right, justice eclipsed, basic human equality, natural rights, and the transformation of natural rights into human rights.
This article investigates, and attempts a preliminary adjudication of, the conflict between two conceptions of customary international law and the rival conceptions of international society they presuppose. The first conception of custom is of a positivistic variety and draws on a statist conception of international society. The other manifests a natural law orientation and finds its rationale in a communitarian account of that society. The first pair of conceptions will be examined in the version powerfully elaborated by the French international (...) lawyer Prosper Weil. The second pair will be considered as it is exemplified by, and reconstructed from, the World Court's 1986 judgment in the merits phase of Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua. The overall purpose of this article is to sketch a dialectical route by means of which the second set of conceptions of international custom and society may be shown to be superior to the first set, and to do so by appealing solely to considerations whose relevance and force is conceded by one of the most influential and articulate proponents of the combined positivist/statist paradigm. (shrink)
The paper undertakes a critical examination of three key strands- relativism, antirealism, and reflection- in Bernard Williams's sceptical interpretation of ethical thought. The anti-realist basis of Williams's 'relativism of distance' is identified and the way this threatens to render his relativism more subversive than initially appears. Focusing on Williams's anti-realism, the paper argues that it fails because it is caught on the horns of a dilemma: either it draws on a conception of reality that is metaphysically incoherent, or else it (...) employs a 'best explanation' criterion that question-beggingly excludes from further consideration the sort of reason-based explanations that disclose ethical properties to be real. Finally, it is noted that Williams's relativism and anti-realism destabilize his picture of ethical reflection. (shrink)
This article offers a critique of Ronald Dworkin’s article “A New Philosophy for International Law”,. It begins by showing that Dworkin’s moralised theory of law is built on two highly questionable background assumptions. On the one hand, a descriptively implausible characterisation of a positivist-voluntarist view of international law as the reigning “orthodoxy”. On the other hand, the methodologically questionable assumption that a theory of international law must discharge the dual function of explaining the validity of international law in a manner (...) that underwrites its presumptive legitimacy. In its core part, the article then offers a sustained criticism of Dworkin’s moralised account of the validity and legitimacy of international law. Various problems are identified with the “principle of salience” that Dworkin offers in place of consent as a ground for international law. A key concern is the difficulties that stem from Dworkin’s willingness to proceed on the “fantasy” assumption that his theory needs to get off the ground, i.e. that there is an international court with compulsory jurisdiction and reliable mechanisms for enforcing its judgements. Finally, the article concludes with some thoughts on how Dworkin’s “fantasy-based” approach led him to over-estimate the degree to which international law can be a vehicle for the global spread of liberal democratic values. More minimalist ambitions for international legal order, along the lines suggested by John Rawls in The Law of Peoples, seem more realistic. (shrink)
abstract A critical discussion of R. A. Duff's account of 'internal' and 'external' criticism using two examples drawn from recent work on international justice — Pogge on global poverty and Duff on international criminal jurisdiction.
What is the nature of law as a form of social order? What bearing do values like justice, human rights, and the rule of law have on law? Which values should law serve, and what limits must it respect in serving them? Are we always morally bound to obey the law? What are the philosophical problems that arise in specific areas of law, from criminal and tort law to contract law and public international law? The book provides an accessible, comprehensive, (...) and high quality introduction to the major themes of legal philosophy written by a stellar international cast of contributors, including John Finnis, Martha Nussbaum, Fred Schauer, Onora O'Neill and Antony Duff. The volume is an exceptional teaching tool that provides a critical introduction to cutting-edge work in the philosophy of law. (shrink)