•  703
    Usually technological innovation and artistic work are seen as very distinctive practices, and innovation of technologies is understood in terms of design and human intention. Moreover, thinking about technological innovation is usually categorized as “technical” and disconnected from thinking about culture and the social. Drawing on work by Dewey, Heidegger, Latour, and Wittgenstein and responding to academic discourses about craft and design, ethics and responsible innovation, transdisciplinar…Read more
  •  355
    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
  •  248
    Towards a Philosophy of Financial Technologies
    with Quinn DuPont and Wessel Reijers
    Philosophy and Technology 1-6. 2017.
    This special issue introduces the study of financial technologies and finance to the field of philosophy of technology, bringing together two different fields that have not traditionally been in dialogue. The included articles are: Digital Art as ‘Monetised Graphics’: Enforcing Intellectual Property on the Blockchain, by Martin Zeilinger; Fundamentals of Algorithmic Markets: Liquidity, Contingency, and the Incomputability of Exchange, by Laura Lotti; ‘Crises of Modernity’ Discourses and the Rise…Read more
  •  183
    Robot rights? Towards a social-relational justification of moral consideration
    Ethics and Information Technology 12 (3): 209-221. 2010.
    Should we grant rights to artificially intelligent robots? Most current and near-future robots do not meet the hard criteria set by deontological and utilitarian theory. Virtue ethics can avoid this problem with its indirect approach. However, both direct and indirect arguments for moral consideration rest on ontological features of entities, an approach which incurs several problems. In response to these difficulties, this paper taps into a different conceptual resource in order to be able to g…Read more
  •  167
    Can we trust robots?
    Ethics and Information Technology 14 (1): 53-60. 2012.
    Can we trust robots? Responding to the literature on trust and e-trust, this paper asks if the question of trust is applicable to robots, discusses different approaches to trust, and analyses some preconditions for trust. In the course of the paper a phenomenological-social approach to trust is articulated, which provides a way of thinking about trust that puts less emphasis on individual choice and control than the contractarian-individualist approach. In addition, the argument is made that whi…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
  •  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
  •  116
    Violent computer games, empathy, and cosmopolitanism
    Ethics and Information Technology 9 (3): 219-231. 2007.
    Many philosophical and public discussions of the ethical aspects of violent computer games typically centre on the relation between playing violent videogames and its supposed direct consequences on violent behaviour. But such an approach rests on a controversial empirical claim, is often one-sided in the range of moral theories used, and remains on a general level with its focus on content alone. In response to these problems, I pick up Matt McCormick’s thesis that potential harm from playing c…Read more
  •  107
    Health Care, Capabilities, and AI Assistive Technologies
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (2): 181-190. 2010.
    Scenarios involving the introduction of artificially intelligent (AI) assistive technologies in health care practices raise several ethical issues. In this paper, I discuss four objections to introducing AI assistive technologies in health care practices as replacements of human care. I analyse them as demands for felt care, good care, private care, and real care. I argue that although these objections cannot stand as good reasons for a general and a priori rejection of AI assistive technologie…Read more
  •  100
    Does kindness towards robots lead to virtue? A reply to Sparrow’s asymmetry argument
    Ethics and Information Technology 1 (Online first). 2021.
    Does cruel behavior towards robots lead to vice, whereas kind behavior does not lead to virtue? This paper presents a critical response to Sparrow’s argument that there is an asymmetry in the way we (should) think about virtue and robots. It discusses how much we should praise virtue as opposed to vice, how virtue relates to practical knowledge and wisdom, how much illusion is needed for it to be a barrier to virtue, the relation between virtue and consequences, the moral relevance of the realit…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
  •  90
    Facing Animals: A Relational, Other-Oriented Approach to Moral Standing
    Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 27 (5): 715-733. 2014.
    In this essay we reflect critically on how animal ethics, and in particular thinking about moral standing, 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 …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
  •  81
    Can a technological culture accommodate spiritual experience and spiritual thinking? If so, what kind of spirituality? I explore the relation between technology and spirituality by constructing and discussing several models for spirituality in a technological culture. I show that although gnostic and animistic interpretations and responses to technology are popular challenges to secularization and disenchantment claims, both the Christian tradition and contemporary posthumanist theory provide in…Read more
  •  79
    This paper discusses the problem of responsibility attribution raised by the use of artificial intelligence technologies. It is assumed that only humans can be responsible agents; yet this alone already raises many issues, which are discussed starting from two Aristotelian conditions for responsibility. Next to the well-known problem of many hands, the issue of “many things” is identified and the temporal dimension is emphasized when it comes to the control condition. Special attention is given …Read more
  •  79
    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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  72
    According to an influential view, empathy has, and should have, a role in ethics, but it is by no means clear what is meant by 'empathy', and why exactly it is supposed to be morally good. Recently, Peter Goldie has challenged that view. He shows how problematic empathy is, and argues that taking an external perspective is morally superior: we should focus on the other, rather than ourselves. But this argument is misguided in several ways. If we consider conversation, there is no need to see an …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
  •  68
    From computer ethics to responsible research and innovation in ICT
    with Bernd Carsten Stahl, Grace Eden, and Marina Jirotka
    Information and Management 51 (6): 810-818. 2014.
    The discourse concerning computer ethics qualifies as a reference discourse for ethics-related IS research. Theories, topics and approaches of computer ethics are reflected in IS. The paper argues that there is currently a broader development in the area of research governance, which is referred to as 'responsible research and innovation'. RRI applied to information and communication technology addresses some of the limitations of computer ethics and points toward a broader approach to the gover…Read more
  •  66
    Technology as Skill and Activity: Revisiting the problem of Alienation
    Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 16 (3): 208-230. 2012.
    Can we conceive of a philosophy of technology that is not technophobic, yet takes seriously the problem of alienation and human meaning-giving? This paperretrieves the concern with alienation, but brings it into dialogue with more recent philosophy of technology. It defines and responds to the problem of alienation in a way that avoids both old-style human-centered approaches and contemporary thingcentered or hybridity approaches. In contrast to the latter, it proposes to reconcile subject and o…Read more
  •  66
    Should we ban fully autonomous weapons?
    Uni:View Magazin. 2018.
    Is it justified at all that a machine kills people, or takes decisions about life and death? Philosopher Mark Coeckelbergh argues in his guest article for uni:view why the use of fully autonomous weapons is ethically highly problematic.Weapon systems become more and more autonomous. This means that they can take decisions without human intervention. Sometimes human operators can still override the decision or are still "in the loop": they are still involved in the decision. But as the technology…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
  •  63
    Principles or imagination? Two approaches to global justice
    Journal of Global Ethics 3 (2). 2007.
    What does it mean to introduce the notion of imagination in the discussion about global justice? What is gained by studying the role of imagination in thinking about global justice? Does a focus on imagination imply that we must replace existing influential principle-centred approaches such as that of John Rawls and his critics? We can distinguish between two approaches to global justice. One approach is Rawlsian and Kantian in inspiration. Discussions within this tradition typically focus on th…Read more
  •  61
    With Hope and Imagination: Imaginative Moral Decision-Making in Neonatal Intensive Care Units
    with Jessica Mesman
    Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (1): 3-21. 2007.
    Although the role of imagination in moral reasoning is often neglected, recent literature, mostly of pragmatist signature, points to imagination as one of its central elements. In this article we develop some of their arguments by looking at the moral role of imagination in practice, in particular the practice of neonatal intensive care. Drawing on empirical research, we analyze a decision-making process in various stages: delivery, staff meeting, and reflection afterwards. We show how imaginati…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
  •  59
    The discussion about robots in elderly care is populated by doom scenarios about a totally dehumanized care system in which elderly people are taken care of by machines. Such scenarios are helpful as they attend us to what we think is important with regard to the quality elderly care. However, this article argues that they are misleading in so far as they (1) assume that deception in care is always morally unacceptable, (2) suggest that robots and other information technologies necessarily decei…Read more