Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 June 2021
What exactly is it that makes one morally responsible? Is it a set of facts which can be objectively discerned, or is it something more subjective, a reaction to the agent or context-sensitive interaction? This debate gets raised anew when we encounter newfound examples of potentially marginal agency. Accordingly, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and the idea of “novel beings” represent exciting opportunities to revisit inquiries into the nature of moral responsibility. This paper expands upon my article “Artificial Moral Responsibility: How We Can and Cannot Hold Machines Responsible” and clarifies my reliance upon two competing views of responsibility. Although AI and novel beings are not close enough to us in kind to be considered candidates for the same sorts of responsibility we ascribe to our fellow human beings, contemporary theories show us the priority and adaptability of our moral attitudes and practices. This allows us to take seriously the social ontology of relationships that tie us together. In other words, moral responsibility is to be found primarily in the natural moral community, even if we admit that those communities now contain artificial agents.
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3. That being said, I want to reiterate—as I pointed out in the initial paper—that with my inquiry into responsibility for artificial intelligence, I deviate from Shoemaker’s investigation of natural subjects. Accordingly, I take full responsibility for any unbecoming distortions of his theory.
4. Champagne M. The mandatory ontology of robot responsibility. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics; available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0963180120000997. forthcoming.
5. Note that using the notion of “extremes” to depict the two views is simply an analytic tool, a way of drawing definite distinctions. I do not believe many theorists hold one of these extremes; instead, seeing the two views along a continuum, or maintaining some combination, seems more plausible. In any case, it is unclear how my framing of the contrast “misconstrues the relation” as Champagne writes.
7. Yet, on occasion, he says things like “once the jury has found one guilty, one is (and thus was) guilty” (emphasis in original), indicating support for a more constructivist reading, which helps my case for locating responsibility in our practices.
11. Strawson, PF. Freedom and resentment. Proceedings of the British Academy 1962;48:1–25.Google Scholar Considering the enormous impact of Strawson’s work, we see that Champagne is simply mistaken to think the objective view of responsibility has “been around for too long” to be dislodged.
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