Robots and rights: Reviewing recent positions in legal philosophy and ethics

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Controversies about the moral and legal status of robots and of humanoid robots in particular are among the top debates in recent practical philosophy and legal theory. As robots become increasingly sophisticated, and engineers make them combine properties of tools with seemingly psychological capacities that were thought to be reserved for humans, such considerations become pressing. While some are inclined to view humanoid robots as more than just tools, discussions are dominated by a clear divide: What some find appealing, others deem appalling, i.e. "robot rights" and "legal personhood" for AI systems. Obviously, we need to organize human-robot interactions according to ethical and juridical principles that optimize benefit and minimize mutual harm. Avoiding disrespectful treatment of robots can help to preserve a normative basic ethical continuum in the behaviour of humans. This insight can contribute to inspire an "overlapping consensus" as conceptualized by John Rawls in further discussions on responsibly coordinating human/robot interactions.




Schröder, W. M. (2021). Robots and rights: Reviewing recent positions in legal philosophy and ethics. In Robotics, AI, and Humanity: Science, Ethics, and Policy (pp. 191–203). Springer International Publishing.

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