Angels and artifacts Moral agents in the age of computers and networks

Angels and artifacts Moral agents in the age of computers and networks Traditionally, philosophers have ascribed moral agency almost exclusively to humans Eshleman, 2004. Early writing about moral agency can be traced to Aristotle Louden, 1989 and Aquinas 1997. In addition to human moral agents, Aristotle discussed the possibility of moral agency of the Greek gods and Aquinas discussed the possibility of moral agency of angels. In the case of angels, a difficulty in ascribing moral agency was that it was suspected that angels did not have enough independence from God to ascribe to the angels genuine moral choices. Recently, new candidateshave been suggested for nonhuman moral agency. Floridi and Sanders 2004 suggest that artificially intelligence AIprograms that meet certain criteria may attain the status of moral agents they suggest a redefinition of moral agency to clarify the relationship between artificial and human agents. Other philosophers, as well as scholars in Science and Technology Studies, are studying the possibility that artifacts that are not designed to mimic human intelligence still embody a kind of moral agency. For example, there has been a lively discussion about the moral intent and the consequential effects of speed bumps Latour, 1994 Keulartz et al., 2004. The connections and distributed intelligence of a network is another candidate being considered for moral agency Allen, Varner & Zinser, 2000. These philosophical arguments may have practical consequences for software developers, and for the people affected by computing. In this paper, we will examine ideas about artificial moral agency from the perspective of a software developer. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society Emerald Publishing

Angels and artifacts Moral agents in the age of computers and networks

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1477-996X
DOI
10.1108/14779960580000269
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Traditionally, philosophers have ascribed moral agency almost exclusively to humans Eshleman, 2004. Early writing about moral agency can be traced to Aristotle Louden, 1989 and Aquinas 1997. In addition to human moral agents, Aristotle discussed the possibility of moral agency of the Greek gods and Aquinas discussed the possibility of moral agency of angels. In the case of angels, a difficulty in ascribing moral agency was that it was suspected that angels did not have enough independence from God to ascribe to the angels genuine moral choices. Recently, new candidateshave been suggested for nonhuman moral agency. Floridi and Sanders 2004 suggest that artificially intelligence AIprograms that meet certain criteria may attain the status of moral agents they suggest a redefinition of moral agency to clarify the relationship between artificial and human agents. Other philosophers, as well as scholars in Science and Technology Studies, are studying the possibility that artifacts that are not designed to mimic human intelligence still embody a kind of moral agency. For example, there has been a lively discussion about the moral intent and the consequential effects of speed bumps Latour, 1994 Keulartz et al., 2004. The connections and distributed intelligence of a network is another candidate being considered for moral agency Allen, Varner & Zinser, 2000. These philosophical arguments may have practical consequences for software developers, and for the people affected by computing. In this paper, we will examine ideas about artificial moral agency from the perspective of a software developer.

Journal

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in SocietyEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 31, 2005

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