BCI-Mediated Behavior, Moral Luck, and Punishment

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Abstract
An ongoing debate in the philosophy of action concerns the prevalence of moral luck: instances in which an agent’s moral responsibility is due, at least in part, to factors beyond his control. I point to a unique problem of moral luck for agents who depend upon Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) for bodily movement. BCIs may misrecognize a voluntarily formed distal intention (e.g., a plan to commit some illicit act in the future) as a control command to perform some overt behavior now. If so, then BCI-agents may be deserving of punishment for the unlucky but foreseeable outcomes of their voluntarily formed plans, whereas standard counterparts who abandon their plans are not. However, it seems that the only relevant difference between BCI-agents and their standard counterparts is just a matter of luck. I briefly sketch different solutions that attempt to avoid this type of moral luck, while remaining agnostic on whether any succeeds. If none of these solutions succeeds, then there may be a unique type of moral luck that is unavoidable with respect to deserving punishment for certain BCI-mediated behaviors.
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Archival date: 2020-04-12
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2020-02-06

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