|Marvin, the Paranoid Android|
I just published a new paper in Science and Engineering Ethics. The paper is my first extended defence of a position called 'ethical behaviourism'. This is a principle/theory that can be applied to debates about the moral status of disputed entities (e.g. animals or artificial beings). I first talked about this principle on this blog a couple of years back (though I don't claim that it is original to me). I am grateful to have the chance to defend it at greater length in this article. As per usual, you can download a free preprint of the paper at the various links below.
Journal: Science and Engineering Ethics
Links: Official; Philpapers; Researchgate; Academia
Abstract: Can robots have significant moral status? This is an emerging topic of debate among roboticists and ethicists. This paper makes three contributions to this debate. First, it presents a theory – ‘ethical behaviourism’ – which holds that robots can have significant moral status if they are roughly performatively equivalent to other entities that have significant moral status. This theory is then defended from seven objections. Second, taking this theoretical position onboard, it is argued that the performative threshold that robots need to cross in order to be afforded significant moral status may not be that high and that they may soon cross it (if they haven’t done so already). Finally, the implications of this for our procreative duties to robots are considered, and it is argued that we may need to take seriously a duty of ‘procreative beneficence’ towards robots.