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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Normative Approach to Artificial Moral Agency

Behdadi, D., Munthe, C.
Minds & Machines (2020). 


This paper proposes a methodological redirection of the philosophical debate on artificial moral agency (AMA) in view of increasingly pressing practical needs due to technological development. This “normative approach” suggests abandoning theoretical discussions about what conditions may hold for moral agency and to what extent these may be met by artificial entities such as AI systems and robots. Instead, the debate should focus on how and to what extent such entities should be included in human practices normally assuming moral agency and responsibility of participants. The proposal is backed up by an analysis of the AMA debate, which is found to be overly caught in the opposition between so-called standard and functionalist conceptions of moral agency, conceptually confused and practically inert. Additionally, we outline some main themes of research in need of attention in light of the suggested normative approach to AMA.


We have argued that to be able to contribute to pressing practical problems, the debate on AMA should be redirected to address outright normative ethical questions. Specifically, the questions of how and to what extent artificial entities should be involved in human practices where we normally assume moral agency and responsibility. The reason for our proposal is the high degree of conceptual confusion and lack of practical usefulness of the traditional AMA debate. And this reason seems especially strong in light of the current fast development and implementation of advanced, autonomous and self-evolving AI and robotic constructs.