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Workshop: AI meets Moral Philosophy and Moral Psychology: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue about Computational Ethics

#50: Can AI Systems Be Moral Agents Without Being Moral Patients?

Minji Jang

Keywords: [ Moral Agency; Moral Patiency; Artificial Intelligence ]

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Fri 15 Dec 12:50 p.m. PST — 1:50 p.m. PST


A standard assumption in contemporary debates on moral status is that moral agency imposes a higher bar than moral patiency---all moral agents (e.g., humans) have moral patiency, but many moral patients (e.g., non-human animals) lack moral agency. Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) might challenge this assumption. At least some AI systems may meet the bar for moral agency far before they meet the bar for moral patiency; if so, there could be some periods during which we have artificial moral agents lacking moral patiency. I conclude with some implications of this finding on discussions in both philosophy and AI.

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