•  16
    Fully Autonomous AI
    Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (5): 2473-2485. 2020.
    In the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics, the term “autonomy” is generally used to mean the capacity of an artificial agent to operate independently of human guidance. It is thereby assumed that the agent has a fixed goal or “utility function” with respect to which the appropriateness of its actions will be evaluated. From a philosophical perspective, this notion of autonomy seems oddly weak. For, in philosophy, the term is generally used to refer to a stronger capacity, namely the …Read more
  •  27
    Unpredictable yet Guided: Arendt on Principled Action
    Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 50 (3): 189-207. 2018.
    Political action is unpredictable because it unfolds among a plurality of independent actors. This unpredictability generates a fundamental puzzle: If an actor cannot know where her initiative will lead, what motivates and guides her in her doings? The aim of this paper is to develop and defend the solution to the puzzle that we can find in the thought of Hannah Arendt, namely the idea that political action is – or should be – motivated and guided by principles, principles like justice, equality…Read more
  •  92
    The problem of superintelligence: political, not technological
    AI and Society 34 (4): 907-920. 2019.
    The thinkers who have reflected on the problem of a coming superintelligence have generally seen the issue as a technological problem, a problem of how to control what the superintelligence will do. I argue that this approach is probably mistaken because it is based on questionable assumptions about the behavior of intelligent agents and, moreover, potentially counterproductive because it might, in the end, bring about the existential catastrophe that it is meant to prevent. I contend that the p…Read more
  •  554
    Arendt’s notion of natality: An attempt at clarification
    Ideas Y Valores 66 (165): 327-346. 2017.
    Arendt claims that our natality (i.e., our condition of being born) is the “source” or “root” of our capacity to begin (i.e., of our capacity to initiate something new). But she does not fully explain this claim. How does the capacity to begin derive from the condition of birth? That Arendt does not immediately and unambiguously provide an answer to this question can be seen in the fact that her notion of natality has received very different interpretations. In the present paper, I seek to clari…Read more
  •  22
    Arendt’s argument for the council system: A defense
    European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology 1 (3): 266-282. 2014.
    In On Revolution and other writings, Arendt expresses her enthusiasm for the council system, a bottom-up political structure based on local councils that are open to all citizens and so allow them to participate in government. This aspect of her thought has been sharply criticized – ‘a curiously unrealistic commitment’ (Margaret Canovan), ‘a naiveté’ (Albrecht Wellmer) – or, more often, simply ignored. How, her readers generally wonder, could Arendt in all seriousness advocate the council system…Read more
  •  365
    Bodies and Their Effects: The Stoics on Causation and Incorporeals
    Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 95 (2): 119-147. 2013.
    The Stoics offer us a very puzzling conception of causation and an equally puzzling ontology. The aim of the present paper is to show that these two elements of their system elucidate each other. The Stoic conception of causation, I contend, holds the key to understanding the ontological category of incorporeals and thus Stoic ontology as a whole, and it can in turn only be understood in the light of this connection to ontology. The thesis I defend is that the Stoic incorporeals are to be unders…Read more
  •  40
    In recent European philosophy, and especially in Heidegger, Arendt, Derrida, and Badiou, the distinction between the ordinary and the extraordinary, or between normality and “event,” has played a very prominent role. In the present paper, I raise a challenge to this distinction, a challenge inspired by Deleuze’s conception of repetition and difference. Is it not the case that every occurrence in some ways reproduces and in some ways deviates from the past, such that nothing is entirely extraordi…Read more