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The Machine Question:Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics

Cover Image Copyright Year: 2012
Author(s): David J. Gunkel
Publisher: MIT Press
Content Type : Books & eBooks
Topics: Robotics & Control Systems
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Abstract

One of the enduring concerns of moral philosophy is deciding who or what is deserving of ethical consideration. Much recent attention has been devoted to the "animal question"--consideration of the moral status of nonhuman animals. In this book, David Gunkel takes up the "machine question": whether and to what extent intelligent and autonomous machines of our own making can be considered to have legitimate moral responsibilities and any legitimate claim to moral consideration. The machine question poses a fundamental challenge to moral thinking, questioning the traditional philosophical conceptualization of technology as a tool or instrument to be used by human agents. Gunkel begins by addressing the question of machine moral agency: whether a machine might be considered a legitimate moral agent that could be held responsible for decisions and actions. He then approaches the machine question from the other side, considering whether a machine might be a moral patient due legitimate moral consideration. Finally, Gunkel considers some recent innovations in moral philosophy and critical theory that complicate the machine question, deconstructing the binary agent--patient opposition itself. Technological advances may prompt us to wonder if the science fiction of computers and robots whose actions affect their human companions (think of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey) could become science fact. Gunkel's argument promises to influence future considerations of ethics, ourselves, and the other entities who inhabit this world.

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      Front Matter

      Page(s): i - 14
      Copyright Year: 2012

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Half Title, Title, Copyright, Dedication, Contents, Preface, Acknowledgments, Introduction View full abstract»

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      Moral Agency

      Page(s): 15 - 91
      Copyright Year: 2012

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Introduction, Agency, The Mechanisms of Exclusion, The Mechanisms of Inclusion, Personal Problems and Alternatives, Summary View full abstract»

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      Moral Patiency

      Page(s): 93 - 157
      Copyright Year: 2012

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Introduction, Patient-Oriented Approaches, The Question of the Animal, Information Ethics, Summary View full abstract»

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      Thinking Otherwise

      Page(s): 159 - 216
      Copyright Year: 2012

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Introduction, Decentering the Subject, The Ethics of Social Construction, Another Alternative, Ulterior Morals View full abstract»

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      Notes

      Page(s): 217 - 221
      Copyright Year: 2012

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Introduction, Moral Agency, Moral Patiency, Thinking Otherwise View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      References

      Page(s): 223 - 243
      Copyright Year: 2012

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      One of the enduring concerns of moral philosophy is deciding who or what is deserving of ethical consideration. Much recent attention has been devoted to the "animal question"--consideration of the moral status of nonhuman animals. In this book, David Gunkel takes up the "machine question": whether and to what extent intelligent and autonomous machines of our own making can be considered to have legitimate moral responsibilities and any legitimate claim to moral consideration. The machine question poses a fundamental challenge to moral thinking, questioning the traditional philosophical conceptualization of technology as a tool or instrument to be used by human agents. Gunkel begins by addressing the question of machine moral agency: whether a machine might be considered a legitimate moral agent that could be held responsible for decisions and actions. He then approaches the machine question from the other side, considering whether a machine might be a moral patient due legitimate moral consideration. Finally, Gunkel considers some recent innovations in moral philosophy and critical theory that complicate the machine question, deconstructing the binary agent--patient opposition itself. Technological advances may prompt us to wonder if the science fiction of computers and robots whose actions affect their human companions (think of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey) could become science fact. Gunkel's argument promises to influence future considerations of ethics, ourselves, and the other entities who inhabit this world. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Index

      Page(s): 245 - 256
      Copyright Year: 2012

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      One of the enduring concerns of moral philosophy is deciding who or what is deserving of ethical consideration. Much recent attention has been devoted to the "animal question"--consideration of the moral status of nonhuman animals. In this book, David Gunkel takes up the "machine question": whether and to what extent intelligent and autonomous machines of our own making can be considered to have legitimate moral responsibilities and any legitimate claim to moral consideration. The machine question poses a fundamental challenge to moral thinking, questioning the traditional philosophical conceptualization of technology as a tool or instrument to be used by human agents. Gunkel begins by addressing the question of machine moral agency: whether a machine might be considered a legitimate moral agent that could be held responsible for decisions and actions. He then approaches the machine question from the other side, considering whether a machine might be a moral patient due legitimate moral consideration. Finally, Gunkel considers some recent innovations in moral philosophy and critical theory that complicate the machine question, deconstructing the binary agent--patient opposition itself. Technological advances may prompt us to wonder if the science fiction of computers and robots whose actions affect their human companions (think of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey) could become science fact. Gunkel's argument promises to influence future considerations of ethics, ourselves, and the other entities who inhabit this world. View full abstract»