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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Should Robots Have Rights? Four Perspectives

John Danaher
Philosophical Disquisitions
Originally published October 31. 2017

Here is an excerpt:

The Four Positions on Robot Rights

Before I get into the four perspectives that Gunkel reviews, I’m going to start by asking a question that he does not raise (in this paper), namely: what would it mean to say that a robot has a ‘right’ to something? This is an inquiry into the nature of rights in the first place. I think it is important to start with this question because it is worth having some sense of the practical meaning of robot rights before we consider their entitlement to them.

I’m not going to say anything particularly ground-breaking. I’m going to follow the standard Hohfeldian account of rights — one that has been used for over 100 years. According to this account, rights claims — e.g. the claim that you have a right to privacy — can be broken down into a set of four possible ‘incidents’: (i) a privilege; (ii) a claim; (iii) a power; and (iv) an immunity. So, in the case of a right to privacy, you could be claiming one or more of the following four things:
  • Privilege: That you have a liberty or privilege to do as you please within a certain zone of privacy.

  • Claim: That others have a duty not to encroach upon you in that zone of privacy.

  • Power: That you have the power to waive your claim-right not to be interfered with in that zone of privacy.

  • Immunity: That you are legally protected against others trying to waive your claim-right on your behalf
As you can see, these four incidents are logically related to one another. Saying that you have a privilege to do X typically entails that you have a claim-right against others to stop them from interfering with that privilege. That said, you don’t need all four incidents in every case.

The blog post is here.
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