Should we give moralstanding to machines? In this paper, I explore the implications of a relational approach to moralstanding for thinking about machines, in particular autonomous, intelligent robots. I show how my version of this approach, which focuses on moral relations and on the conditions of possibility of moral status ascription, provides a way to take critical distance from what I call the “standard” approach to thinking about moral status and (...) class='Hi'>moralstanding, which is based on properties. It does not only overcome epistemological problems with the standard approach, but can also explain how we think about, experience, and act towards machines—including the gap that sometimes occurs between reasoning and experience. I also articulate the non-Cartesian orientation of my “relational” research program and specify the way it contributes to a different paradigm in thinking about moralstanding and moral knowledge. (shrink)
"The MoralStanding of States" is the title of an essay Michael Walzer wrote in response to four critics of the theory of nonintervention defended in "Just and Unjust Wars." It states a theme to which he has returned in subsequent work. Beitz offers four sets of comments.
This paper presents an African relational view of social robots’ moralstanding which draws on the philosophy of ubuntu. The introduction places the question of moralstanding in historical and cultural contexts. Section 2 demonstrates an ubuntu framework by applying it to the fictional case of a social robot named Klara, taken from Ishiguro’s novel, Klara and the Sun. We argue that an ubuntu ethic assigns moralstanding to Klara, based on her relational qualities (...) and pro-social virtues. Section 3 introduces a second fictional case, taken from McKeown’s novel, Machines Like Me, in which a social robot named Adam displays intrinsic qualities, such as sentience, rationality, and deductive moral reasoning, yet lacks close social ties to particular people. We argue that Adam is not a person in the African sense; however, he qualifies as a person according to many standard Western views, such as Kantian and utilitarian ethics. Section 4 further elaborates the African relational view by comparing the moralstanding of social robots and humans in a forced choice scenario. Section 5 replies to objections. We conclude that an African relational approach captures important insights about the moralstanding of social robots that many Western accounts miss and should be better incorporated into global frameworks for designing and deploying social robots. (shrink)
How valuable is the market mechanism for practical morality? What is its moralstanding? We can scarcely doubt that as individuals we do value tremendously the opportunity of using markets. Indeed, without access to markets most of us would perish, since we don't typically produce the things that we need to survive. If we could somehow survive without using markets at all, our quality of life would be rather abysmal. It is natural to feel that an institution that (...) is so crucial to our well-being must be valuable. And since moral evaluation can hardly be indifferent to our interests and their fulfillment, it might appear that there is nothing much to discuss here. The market's moralstanding “has to be” high. (shrink)
I begin by discussing the ways in which a would-be blamer's own prior conduct towards the person he seeks to blame can undermine his standing to blame her. This provides the basis for an examination of a particular kind of 'bar to trial' in the criminal law – of ways in which a state or a polity's right to put a defendant on trial can be undermined by the prior misconduct of the state or its officials. The examination of (...) this often neglected legal phenomenon illuminates some central features of the criminal law and the criminal process, and some of the preconditions for the legitimacy of the criminal law in a liberal republic. (shrink)
While John Rawls made the notion of a “modus vivendi” prominent in political philosophy, he treats modus vivendi arrangements rather short and dismissively. On the other hand, some political theorists like John Gray praise modus vivendi as the only available and legitimate goal of politics. In the article I sketch the outlines of a different, more nuanced approach to modus vivendi arrangements. I argue that the moralstanding of modus vivendi arrangements varies, and I try to spell out (...) the factors that determine the relative moralstanding of modus vivendi arrangements. (shrink)
In this paper, I introduce a problem to the philosophy of religion – the problem of divine moralstanding – and explain how this problem is distinct from (albeit related to) the more familiar problem of evil (with which it is often conflated). In short, the problem is this: in virtue of how God would be (or, on some given conception, is) “involved in” our actions, how is it that God has the moralstanding to blame (...) us for performing those very actions? In light of the recent literature on “moralstanding”, I consider God’s moralstanding to blame on two models of “divine providence”: open theism, and theological determinism. I contend that God may have standing on open theism, and – perhaps surprisingly – may also have standing, even on theological determinism, given the truth of compatibilism. Thus, if you think that God could not justly both determine and blame, then you will have to abandon compatibilism. The topic of this paper thus sheds considerable light on the traditional philosophical debate about the conditions of moral responsibility. (shrink)
I begin by discussing the ways in which a would‐be blamer's own prior conduct towards the person he seeks to blame can undermine his standing to blame her (to call her to account for her wrongdoing). This provides the basis for an examination of a particular kind of ‘bar to trial’ in the criminal law – of ways in which a state or a polity's right to put a defendant on trial can be undermined by the prior misconduct of (...) the state or its officials. The examination of this often neglected legal phenomenon illuminates some central features of the criminal law and the criminal process, and some of the preconditions for the legitimacy of the criminal law in a liberal republic. (shrink)
Human beings are, as far as we know, the only animals to have moral concerns and to adopt moralities, but it would be a mistake to be misled by this fact into thinking that humans are also the only proper objects of moral consideration. I argue that we ought to allow even nonliving things a significant moral status, thus denying the condusion of much contemporary moral thinking. First, I consider the possibilityof giving moral consideration to (...) nonliving things. Second, I put forward grounds which justify this extension of morality beyond its conventional boundarles. Third, I argue that natural objects have a status different from a special dass of artifacts -works of art. Fourth, I discuss the notion of interest, and fifth I look brietly at the status of natural systems and at ways we might link the proposed extension of moral considerability with the rest of our moral thinking. (shrink)
A prominent recent strategy for advancing the thesis that moral responsibility is incompatible with causal determinism has been to argue that agents who meet compatibilist conditions for responsibility could nevertheless be subject to certain sorts of deterministic manipulation, so that an agent could meet the compatibilist’s conditions for responsibility, but also be living a life the precise details of which someone else determined that she should live. According to the incompatibilist, however, once we became aware that agents had been (...) manipulated or ‘set up’ in the relevant way, we should no longer judge that they are responsible for their behavior, nor should we hold them responsible for it by blaming them, in case what they did was wrong. In this paper, I aim to shift the debate to different terrain. The focus so far has been simply on what we may or may not permissibly say or do concerning manipulated agents. But I believe a powerful new incompatibilist argument can be mounted from considering whether the manipulators themselves can justifiably blame the agents they manipulate in compatibilist-friendly ways. It seems strikingly counterintuitive to suppose that they may do so. The argument of this paper, however, is that, given the right story, incompatibilism provides the best explanation for why this is so. In short, the compatibilist must say that, while such manipulated agents are still responsible, the manipulators lack the moralstanding to blame them. But I argue that, on compatibilist assumptions, this explanation ultimately fails. (shrink)
Manipulation arguments aim to show that compatibilism is false. Usually, they aim to undermine compatibilism by first eliciting the intuition that a manipulated agent is not morally responsible. Patrick Todd's (2012) MoralStanding Manipulation Argument instead aims to first elicit the intuition that a manipulator cannot blame her victim. Todd then argues that the best explanation for why a manipulator cannot blame her victim is that incompatibilism is true. In this paper, I present three lines of defence against (...) this argument for those who agree a manipulator cannot blame her victim. (shrink)
A being has moralstanding if it or its interests matter intrinsically, to at least some degree, in the moral assessment of actions and events. For instance, animals can be said to have moralstanding if, other things being equal, it is morally bad to intentionally cause their suffering. This essay focuses on a special kind of moralstanding, what I will call “full moralstanding” (FMS), associated with persons. In contrast (...) to the var- ious accounts of what ultimately grounds FMS in use in the philosophical literature, I will propose that the emotional capacity to care is a sufficient condition of an individual’s FMS as a person. In developing this account, I will appeal to a set of intuitions not previously mined for this purpose: those generated by conflicts of interests between different life phases of a single individual. (shrink)
This paper discusses the Indirect Duties View implying that, when our actions have no negative effects on humans, we can treat animals any way we wish. I offer several criticisms of this view. Subsequently, I explore some implications of rejecting this view that rise in the contexts of animal research and veterinarian ethics.
Several writers have argued that the state lacks the moralstanding to hold socially deprived offenders responsible for their crimes because the state would be hypocritical in doing so. Yet the state is not disposed to make an unfair exception of itself for committing the same sorts of crimes as socially deprived offenders, so it is unclear that the state is truly hypocritical. Nevertheless, the state is disposed to inconsistently hold its citizens responsible, blaming or punishing socially deprived (...) offenders more often or more harshly than other offenders, even when the crimes are the same. The state’s stable disposition to inconsistently hold offenders responsible undermines its standing to hold offenders responsible for the same reasons that hypocrisy undermines standing; instead of making an unfair exception of itself, the state makes an unfair exception of others. Strikingly, this means that the state lacks the standing to hold anyone responsible for a crime for which it is unfairly disposed to hold citizens responsible inconsistently, not just socially deprived offenders. Thus, it is even more urgent that the state regain its moralstanding by working toward a justice system that holds offenders responsible consistently. (shrink)
There is an alternative to the type of moralstanding that hypothetically supervenes on other, base or subvenient, properties. Attributed moralstanding results when people who have a naturally selected belief that they are worthy of moral consideration negotiate with others with the aim of being acknowledged as having moralstanding and are successful. They could successfully negotiate with people who possessed supervenient moralstanding. In a hypothetical evolutionary competition with the (...) latter, they would replace them entirely. The result would be a moral community that excludes animals but that includes human infants. Membership in the moral community ends up being what it would be if moralstanding supervened on the property of being human. The supervenience doctrine is also criticized on other grounds. (shrink)
Biomedical research using data from participants’ mobile devices borrows heavily from the ethos of the “citizen science” movement, by delegating data collection and transmission to its volunteer subjects. This engagement gives volunteers the opportunity to feel like partners in the research and retain a reassuring sense of control over their participation. These virtues, in turn, give both grass-roots citizen science initiatives and institutionally sponsored mHealth studies appealing features to flag in recruiting participants from the public. But while grass-roots citizen science (...) projects are often community-based, mHealth research ultimately depends on the individuals who own and use mobile devices. This inflects the ethos of mHealth research towards a celebration of individual autonomy and empowerment, at the expense of its implications for the communities or groups to which its individual participants belong. But the prospects of group harms — and benefits — from mHealth research are as vivid as they are in other forms of data-intensive “precision health” research, and will be important to consider in the design of any studies using this approach. (shrink)
There are two primary traditions in philosophical theorizing about moralstanding—one emphasizing Experience (the capacity to feel pain and pleasure) and one emphasizing Agency (complexity of cognition and lifestyle). In this article we offer an explanation for this divide: Lay judgments about moralstanding depend importantly on two independent cues (Experience and Agency), and the two philosophical traditions reflect this aspect of folk moral cognition. In support of this two-source hypothesis, we present the results of (...) a series of new experiments providing evidence for our account of lay judgments about moralstanding, and argue that these results lend plausibility to the proposed causal link between folk moral cognition and the philosophical traditions. (shrink)
Recently, philosophers have turned their attention to the question, not when a given agent is blameworthy for what she does, but when a further agent has the moralstanding to blame her for what she does. Philosophers have proposed at least four conditions on having “moralstanding”: -/- 1. One’s blame would not be “hypocritical”. 2. One is not oneself “involved in” the target agent’s wrongdoing. 3. One must be warranted in believing that the target is (...) indeed blameworthy for the wrongdoing. 4. The target’s wrongdoing must some of “one’s business”. -/- These conditions are often proposed as both conditions on one and the same thing, and as marking fundamentally different ways of “losing standing.” Here I call these claims into question. First, I claim that conditions (3) and (4) are simply conditions on different things than are conditions (1) and (2). Second, I argue that condition (2) reduces to condition (1): when “involvement” removes someone’s standing to blame, it does so only by indicating something further about that agent, viz., that he or she lacks commitment to the values that condemn the wrongdoer’s action. The result: after we clarify the nature of the non-hypocrisy condition, we will have a unified account of moralstanding to blame. Issues also discussed: whether standing can ever be regained, the relationship between standing and our "moral fragility", the difference between mere inconsistency and hypocrisy, and whether a condition of standing might be derived from deeper facts about the "equality of persons". (shrink)
There are communities in which disadvantaged groups experience severe inequality. For instance, poor and indigent families face many difficulties accessing their social rights. Their condition is largely the consequence of the wrong choices of those in power, either historical or more recent choices. The lack of opportunities of these deprived citizens is due to state omissions. In such communities, it is not unusual for homeless members of these particular groups to occupy abandoned lands and build their shelters there. However, almost (...) everywhere, these actions constitute a crime. The typical response to this situation is prosecution and punishment. In this paper, I will defend the occupation of public places as a consequence of the failure of governments to solve the problem of housing, and I will argue that we must distinguish a social claim from a crime and avoid the use of criminal law in these “occupation cases”. I will also argue that our right—as a community—to blame and punish these “squatters” is eroded by the fact that we perpetrated their situation of injustice. (shrink)
Environmental philosophers often conflate the concepts of intrinsic value and moralstanding. As a result, individualists needlessly deny intrinsic value to species, while holists falsely attribute moralstanding to species. Conceived either as classes or as historical individuals, at least some species possess intrinsic value. Nevertheless, even if a species has interests or a good of its own, it cannot have moralstanding because species lack sentience. Although there is a basis for duties toward (...) some species (in terms of their intrinsic value), it is not the one that the holists claim. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that neo-Hobbesian contractarianism cannot yield direct moralstanding for marginal humans and animals. However, it has been argued that marginal humans and animals can have a form of direct moralstanding under neo-Hobbesian contractarianism: secondary moralstanding. I will argue that, even if such standing is direct, this account is unsatisfactory because it is counterintuitive and fragile.
Moral patients deserve moral consideration and concern – they have moralstanding. What factors drive attributions of moralstanding? Understanding these factors is important because it indicates how broadly individuals conceptualize the moral world, and suggests how they will treat various entities, both human and non-human. This understanding has recently been advanced by a series of studies conducted by both psychologists and philosophers, which have revealed three main drivers of moralstanding: (...) the capacity to suffer, intelligence or autonomy, and the nature of an entity's disposition. These studies have also revealed causal links between moralstanding and other variables of interest, namely, mental state attributions and moral behavior. In this review, I consider this recent research, aiming to clarify what the balance of evidence indicates about how moralstanding is judged and about its links to mind perception and behavior. I conclude by suggesting open questions for future research on this exciting topic. (shrink)
Patrick Todd has recently fashioned a novel argument for incompatibilism, the Moral-Standing Zygote Argument. Todd considers much-discussed cases in which a manipulator causes an agent in a deterministic scenario to act morally wrongly from compatibilist-friendly conditions for freedom and moral responsibility. The manipulator, Todd contends, does not have the standing to blame the manipulated agent, and the best explanation for this is that incompatibilism is true. This is why the manipulated agent is not blameworthy. In this (...) paper, I counter Todd on behalf of the compatibilist, arguing that the best explanation for the manipulator's lack of moralstanding to blame is due to the manipulator's intending to cause the manipulated agent to do wrong. (shrink)
Twenty years ago, people thought only cranks or sentimentalists could be seriously concerned about the treatment of non-human animals. However, since then philosophers, scientists and welfarists have raised public awareness of the issue; and they have begun to lay the foundations for an enormous change in human practice. This book is a record of the development of 'animal rights' through the eyes of one highly-respected and well-known thinker. This book brings together for the first time Stephen R.L. Clark's major essays (...) in one volume. Written with characteristic clarity and persuasion, Animals and Their MoralStanding will be essential reading for both philosophers and scientists, as well as the general reader concerned by the debates over animal rights and treatment. (shrink)
Contractarianism is more inclusive than critics (and, indeed, Gauthier) sometimes suggest. Contractarianism can justify equal moralstanding for human persons (in some respects) and provide sufficient moralstanding for many nonhuman animals to require what we commonly call decent treatment. Moreover, contractarianism may allow that some entities have more moralstanding than others do. This does not necessarily license the oppression that liberal egalitarians rightly fear. Instead, it shows that contractarianism may support a nuanced (...) account of moral status. (shrink)
In this article I try to elucidate the concept of human dignity by taking a closer look at the features of a paradigmatic torture situation. After identifying the salient aspects of torture, I discuss various accounts for the moral wrongness of such acts and argue that what makes torture a violation of human dignity is the perverted moral relationship between torturer and victim. This idea is subsequently being substantiated and defended against important objections. In the final part of (...) the chapter I give a (qualified) defense of the methodology employed in the previous sections. (shrink)
When any man, even in political society, renders himself by his crimes obnoxious to the public, he is punished by the laws in his goods and person; that is, the ordinary rules of justice are, with regard to him, suspended for a moment, and it becomes equitable to inflict on him, for the benefit of society, what otherwise he could not suffer without wrong or injury?
This essay explores whether dependent relationships might justify extending direct moral consideration to nonhuman animals. After setting out a formal conception of moralstanding as relational, scalar, and unilateral, I consider whether and how an appeal to dependencies might be the basis for an animal’s moralstanding. If dependencies generate reasons for extending direct moral consideration, such reasons will admit of significant variations in scope and stringency.
In this essay we reflect critically on how animal ethics, and in particular thinking about moralstanding, is currently configured. Starting from the work of two influential “analytic” thinkers in this field, Peter Singer and Tom Regan, we examine some basic assumptions shared by these positions and demonstrate their conceptual failings—ones that have, despite efforts to the contrary, the general effect of marginalizing and excluding others. Inspired by the so-called “continental” philosophical tradition , we then argue that what (...) is needed is a change in the rules of the game, a change of the question. We alter the normative question from “What properties does the animal have?” to “What are the conditions under which an entity becomes a moral subject?” This leads us to consider the role of language, personal relations, and material-technological contexts. What is needed then in response to the moralstanding problem, is not more of the same—yet another, more refined criterion and argumentation concerning moralstanding, or a “final” rational argumentation that would be able to settle the animal question once and for all—but a turning or transformation in both our thinking about and our relations to animals, through language, through technology, and through the various place-ordering practices in which we participate. (shrink)
L. W. Sumner argues that humanism—the position that all and only humans possess moralstanding—is false. I agree. Critically examining an argument purporting to establish the exclusive part of humanism—that only humans possess moralstanding—Sumner argues that we should not confuse ultimate and objective value, value and welfare, and “formal” and “substantive” theses about value. Again I have no disagreement.
We consider the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) activities from a bioethical standpoint. In particular, we argue that there is a moral duty to search for other intelligent beings in the Universe. Some of them could – and are likely to be – morally enhanced in the sense that they are not only capable of unmistakable moral reasoning but are also capable of consistently acting upon the results of such deliberations. Even if the probability of finding such morally (...) superior beings is small, it is higher than zero in any case; in fact, our astrobiological knowledge suggests that this probability is significant. Hence, there are both deductive and inductive arguments for the proposition that our duty is to search for such morally superior extraterrestrial beings. In other words, there is a duty to undertake and support our SETI efforts. The argument to that effect runs parallel to some of the arguments deployed in current debates on human moral enhancement. (shrink)
This paper replies to a commentary by John-Stewart Gordon on our paper, “The MoralStanding of Social Robots: Untapped Insights from Africa.” In the original paper, we set forth an African relational view of personhood and show its implica- tions for the moralstanding of social robots. This reply clarifies our position and answers three objections. The objections concern (1) the ethical significance of intelligence, (2) the meaning of ‘pro-social,’ and (3) the justification for prioritizing humans (...) over pro-social robots. (shrink)