Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

95 - The Psychology of the Moral Circle

I was raised in the tradition of believing that everyone is of equal moral worth. But when I scrutinise my daily practices, I don’t think I can honestly say that I act as if everyone is of equal moral worth. The idea that some people belong within the circle of moral concern and some do not is central to many moral systems. But what affects the dynamics of the moral circle? How does it contract and expand? Can it expand indefinitely? In this episode I discuss these questions with Joshua Rottman. Josh is an associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Program in Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind at Franklin and Marshall College. His research is situated at the intersection of cognitive development and moral psychology, and he primarily focuses on studying the factors that lead certain entities and objects to be attributed with (or stripped of) moral concern. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show NotesTopics discussed include:The normative significance of moral psychologyThe concept of the moral circleHow the moral circle develops in childrenHow the moral circle changes over timeCan the moral circle expand indefinitely?Do we have a limited budget of moral concern?Do most people underuse their budget of moral concern?Why do some people prioritise the non-human world over marginal [More]

94 - Robot Friendship and Hatred

Can we move beyond the Aristotelian account of friendship when thinking about our relationships with robots? Can we hate robots? In this episode, I talk to Helen Ryland about these topics. Helen is a UK-based philosopher. She completed her PhD in Philosophy in 2020 at the University of Birmingham. She now works as an Associate Lecturer for The Open University. Her work examines human-robot relationships, video game ethics, and the personhood and moral status of marginal cases of human rights (e.g., subjects with dementia, nonhuman animals, and robots). You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show NotesTopics covered include:What is friendship and why does it matter?The Aristotelian account of friendshipLimitations of the Aristotelian accountMoving beyond AristotleThe degrees of friendship modelWhy we can be friends with robotsCriticisms of robot-human friendshipThe possibility of hating robotsDo we already hate robots?Why would it matter if we did hate robots?Relevant LinksHelen's homepage'It's Friendship Jim, But Not as We Know It:  A Degrees-of-Friendship View of Human–Robot Friendships' by HelenCould you hate a robot? Does it matter if you could? by Helen #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site [More]

93 - Will machines impede moral progress?

Thomas Sinclair (left), Ben Kenward (right)Lots of people are worried about the ethics of AI. One particular area of concern is whether we should program machines to follow existing normative/moral principles when making decisions. But social moral values change over time. Should machines not be designed to allow for such changes? If machines are programmed to follow our current values will they impede moral progress? In this episode, I talk to Ben Kenward and Thomas Sinclair about this issue. Ben is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford Brookes University in the UK. His research focuses on ecological psychology, mainly examining environmental activism such as the Extinction Rebellion movement of which he is a part. Thomas is a Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, and an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford's Faculty of Philosophy. His research and teaching focus on questions in moral and political philosophy. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).  Show NotesTopics discussed incude:What is a moral value?What is a moral machine?What is moral progress?Has society progress, morally speaking, in the past?How can we design moral machines?What's the problem with getting machines to follow our current moral consensus?Will people over-defer to machines? Will they outsource their moral [More]

91 - Rights for Robots, Animals and Nature?

Should robots have rights? How about chimpanzees? Or rivers? Many people ask these questions individually, but few people have asked them all together at the same time. In this episode, I talk to a man who has. Josh Gellers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Florida, a Fulbright Scholar to Sri Lanka, a Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance Project, and Core Team Member of the Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment. His research focuses on environmental politics, rights, and technology. He is the author of The Global Emergence of Constitutional Environmental Rights (Routledge 2017) and Rights for Robots: Artificial Intelligence, Animal and Environmental Law (Routledge 2020). We talk about the arguments and ideas in the latter book. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).Show notesTopics covered include:Should we even be talking about robot rights?What is a right? What's the difference between a legal and moral right?How do we justify the ascription of rights?What is personhood? Who counts as a person?Properties versus relations - what matters more when it comes to moral status?What can we learn from the animal rights case law?What can we learn from the Rights of Nature debate?Can we imagine a future in which robots have [More]

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