•  80
    Ethical reflections on military robotics can be enriched by a better understanding of the nature and role of these technologies and by putting robotics into context in various ways. Discussing a range of ethical questions, this paper challenges the prevalent assumptions that military robotics is about military technology as a mere means to an end, about single killer machines, and about “military” developments. It recommends that ethics of robotics attend to how military technology changes our a…Read more
  •  4
    If we want to be autonomous, what do we want? The author shows that contemporary value-neutral and metaphysically economical conceptions of autonomy, such as that of Harry Frankfurt, face a serious problem. Drawing on Plato, Augustine, and Kant, this book provides a sketch of how "ancient" and "modern" can be reconciled to solve it. But at what expense? It turns out that the dominant modern ideal of autonomy cannot do without a costly metaphysics if it is to be coherent.
  •  133
    Drones, information technology, and distance: mapping the moral epistemology of remote fighting (review)
    Ethics and Information Technology 15 (2): 87-98. 2013.
    Ethical reflection on drone fighting suggests that this practice does not only create physical distance, but also moral distance: far removed from one’s opponent, it becomes easier to kill. This paper discusses this thesis, frames it as a moral-epistemological problem, and explores the role of information technology in bridging and creating distance. Inspired by a broad range of conceptual and empirical resources including ethics of robotics, psychology, phenomenology, and media reports, it is f…Read more
  •  64
    Are the robots coming? Is the singularity near? Will we be dominated by technology? The usual response to ethical issues raised by pervasive and ubiquitous technologies assumes a philosophical anthropology centered on existential autonomy and agency, a dualistic ontology separating humans from technology and the natural from the artificial, and a post-monotheistic dualist and creational spirituality. This paper explores an alternative, less modern vision of the “technological” future based on di…Read more
  •  39
    Artificial agents, good care, and modernity
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (4): 265-277. 2015.
    When is it ethically acceptable to use artificial agents in health care? This article articulates some criteria for good care and then discusses whether machines as artificial agents that take over care tasks meet these criteria. Particular attention is paid to intuitions about the meaning of ‘care’, ‘agency’, and ‘taking over’, but also to the care process as a labour process in a modern organizational and financial-economic context. It is argued that while there is in principle no objection to…Read more
  •  357
    Moral appearances: emotions, robots, and human morality (review)
    Ethics and Information Technology 12 (3): 235-241. 2010.
    Can we build ‘moral robots’? If morality depends on emotions, the answer seems negative. Current robots do not meet standard necessary conditions for having emotions: they lack consciousness, mental states, and feelings. Moreover, it is not even clear how we might ever establish whether robots satisfy these conditions. Thus, at most, robots could be programmed to follow rules, but it would seem that such ‘psychopathic’ robots would be dangerous since they would lack full moral agency. However, I…Read more
  •  133
    Nussbaum’s version of the capability approach is not only a helpful approach to development problems but can also be employed as a general ethical-anthropological framework in ‘advanced’ societies. This paper explores its normative force for evaluating information technologies, with a particular focus on the issue of human enhancement. It suggests that the capability approach can be a useful way of to specify a workable and adequate level of analysis in human enhancement discussions, but argues …Read more
  •  81
    You, robot: on the linguistic construction of artificial others (review)
    AI and Society 26 (1): 61-69. 2011.
    How can we make sense of the idea of ‘personal’ or ‘social’ relations with robots? Starting from a social and phenomenological approach to human–robot relations, this paper explores how we can better understand and evaluate these relations by attending to the ways our conscious experience of the robot and the human–robot relation is mediated by language. It is argued that our talk about and to robots is not a mere representation of an objective robotic or social-interactive reality, but rather i…Read more
  •  50
    Engineering can learn from ethics, but ethics can also learn from engineering. In this paper, I discuss what engineering metaphors can teach us about practical philosophy. Using metaphors such as calculation, performance, and open source, I articulate two opposing views of morality and politics: one that relies on images related to engineering as science and one that draws on images of engineering practice. I argue that the latter view and its metaphors provide a more adequate way to understand …Read more
  •  73
    The tragedy of the master: automation, vulnerability, and distance
    Ethics and Information Technology 17 (3): 219-229. 2015.
    Responding to long-standing warnings that robots and AI will enslave humans, I argue that the main problem we face is not that automation might turn us into slaves but, rather, that we remain masters. First I construct an argument concerning what I call ‘the tragedy of the master’: using the master–slave dialectic, I argue that automation technologies threaten to make us vulnerable, alienated, and automated masters. I elaborate the implications for power, knowledge, and experience. Then I critic…Read more
  •  22
    This essay shows that a sharp distinction between ethics and aesthetics is unfruitful for thinking about how to live well with technologies, and in particular for understanding and evaluating how we cope with human existential vulnerability, which is crucially mediated by the development and use of technologies such as electronic ICTs. It is argued that vulnerability coping is a matter of ethics and art: it requires developing a kind of art and techne in the sense that it always involves technol…Read more
  •  59
    There is a gap between, on the one hand, the tragic character of human action and, on the other hand, our moral and legal conceptions of responsibility that focus on individual agency and absolute guilt. Drawing on Kierkegaard’s understanding of tragic action and engaging with contemporary discourse on moral luck, poetic justice, and relational responsibility, this paper argues for a reform of our legal practices based on a less ‘harsh’ (Kierkegaard) conception of moral and legal responsib…Read more
  •  70
    The standard response to engineering disasters like the Deepwater Horizon case is to ascribe full moral responsibility to individuals and to collectives treated as individuals. However, this approach is inappropriate since concrete action and experience in engineering contexts seldom meets the criteria of our traditional moral theories. Technological action is often distributed rather than individual or collective, we lack full control of the technology and its consequences, and we lack knowledg…Read more
  •  4
    ABSTRACT: This paper raises questions regarding the societal, cultural and ethical significance of finance, mathematics, and financial-mathematical technologies, discussing in particular the phenomenon of quantification as mediated by contemporary electronic information and communication technologies (ICTS). It first relates the history of mathematics to the history of financial technologies, and argues, inspired by Simmel and Marcuse, that from ancient times to now there seems to be an evolutio…Read more
  •  45
    Imagination, distributed responsibility and vulnerable technological systems: The case of Snorre a
    with Ger Wackers
    Science and Engineering Ethics 13 (2): 235-248. 2007.
    An influential approach to engineering ethics is based on codes of ethics and the application of moral principles by individual practitioners. However, to better understand the ethical problems of complex technological systems and the moral reasoning involved in such contexts, we need other tools as well. In this article, we consider the role of imagination and develop a concept of distributed responsibility in order to capture a broader range of human abilities and dimensions of moral responsib…Read more
  •  31
    Machine generated contents note: -- Acknowledgements -- Introduction - The Problem of Moral Status -- PART I: MORAL ONTOLOGIES: FROM INDIVIDUAL TO RELATIONAL DOGMAS -- Individual Properties -- Appearance and Virtue -- Relations: Communitarian and Metaphysical -- Relations: Natural and Social -- Relations: Hybrid and Environmental -- Conclusion Part I: Diogenes's Challenge -- PART II: MORAL STATUS ASCRIPTION AND ITS CONDITIONS OF POSSIBILITY: A TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT -- Words and Sentences: Form…Read more
  •  11
    What are we doing? Microblogging, the ordinary private, and the primacy of the present
    Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 9 (2): 127-136. 2011.
    Purpose – This paper aims to better understand the cultural-philosophical significance of microblogging. In this way it seeks to inform evaluations of this new medium and of the culture and society it co-shapes and in which it is rooted. Design/methodology/approach – Engaging in philosophical reflection inspired by philosophy of technology, political philosophy, and cultural history, this paper identifies and discusses some structural features of microblogging such as Twitter. Findings – This pa…Read more
  •  73
    Should we give moral standing to machines? In this paper, I explore the implications of a relational approach to moral standing 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 moral standing, which is based on properti…Read more
  •  92
    Various arguments have been provided for drawing non-humans such as animals and artificial agents into the sphere of moral consideration. In this paper, I argue for a shift from an ontological to a social-philosophical approach: instead of asking what an entity is, we should try to conceptually grasp the quasi-social dimension of relations between non-humans and humans. This allows me to reconsider the problem of justice, in particular distributive justice . Engaging with the work of Rawls, I sh…Read more