Is it time for robot rights? Moral status in artificial entities

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Abstract
Some authors have recently suggested that it is time to consider rights for robots. These suggestions are based on the claim that the question of robot rights should not depend on a standard set of conditions for ‘moral status’; but instead, the question is to be framed in a new way, by rejecting the is/ought distinction, making a relational turn, or assuming a methodological behaviourism. We try to clarify these suggestions and to show their highly problematic consequences. While we find the suggestions ultimately unmotivated, the discussion shows that our epistemic condition with respect to the moral status of others does raise problems, and that the human tendency to empathise with things that do not have moral status should be taken seriously—we suggest that it produces a “derived moral status”. Finally, it turns out that there is typically no individual in real AI that could even be said to be the bearer of moral status. Overall, there is no reason to think that robot rights are an issue now.
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MLLIIT
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Archival date: 2021-05-17
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2021-05-17

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