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Machines and the Moral Community

Machines and the Moral Community A key distinction in ethics is between members and nonmembers of the moral community. Over time, our notion of this community has expanded as we have moved from a rationality criterion to a sentience criterion for membership. I argue that a sentience criterion is insufficient to accommodate all members of the moral community; the true underlying criterion can be understood in terms of whether a being has interests. This may be extended to conscious, self-aware machines, as well as to any autonomous intelligent machines. Such machines exhibit an ability to formulate desires for the course of their own existence; this gives them basic moral standing. While not all machines display autonomy, those which do must be treated as moral patients; to ignore their claims to moral recognition is to repeat past errors. I thus urge moral generosity with respect to the ethical claims of intelligent machines. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy & Technology Springer Journals

Machines and the Moral Community

Philosophy & Technology , Volume 27 (1) – Jun 29, 2013

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Subject
Philosophy; Philosophy of Technology
ISSN
2210-5433
eISSN
2210-5441
DOI
10.1007/s13347-013-0114-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

A key distinction in ethics is between members and nonmembers of the moral community. Over time, our notion of this community has expanded as we have moved from a rationality criterion to a sentience criterion for membership. I argue that a sentience criterion is insufficient to accommodate all members of the moral community; the true underlying criterion can be understood in terms of whether a being has interests. This may be extended to conscious, self-aware machines, as well as to any autonomous intelligent machines. Such machines exhibit an ability to formulate desires for the course of their own existence; this gives them basic moral standing. While not all machines display autonomy, those which do must be treated as moral patients; to ignore their claims to moral recognition is to repeat past errors. I thus urge moral generosity with respect to the ethical claims of intelligent machines.

Journal

Philosophy & TechnologySpringer Journals

Published: Jun 29, 2013

References