A space of one’s own: Autonomy, privacy, liberty

The value of a negatively defined private space is defended as important for the development of personal autonomy. It is argued that negative liberty is problematic when split off from its connection with this ideal. An ethical interpretation of personal autonomy is proposed according to which a private space is one of autonomy’s preconditions. This…

Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry

Blending social analysis and philosophy, Albert Borgmann maintains that technology creates a controlling pattern in our lives. This pattern, discernible even in such an inconspicuous action as switching on a stereo, has global effects: it sharply divides life into labor and leisure, it sustains the industrial democracies, and it fosters the view that the earth…

Philosophy and Computers

At this early stage in the development of a philosophical machine ethics, already a wide range of theoretical positions have been staked out. There are machine ethics utilitarians, and of course proponents of approaches following Kant, Ross, and various virtue theorists, too. Further categorization yields top-down, bottom-up, and hybrid approaches. A consideration of the logic…

Technology as Extension of Human Faculties

The idea that technology is an extension of the human organism is encountered regularly in the history of thought about technology. The idea, in its most basic form, is that technical objects extend the human organism by replicating or amplifying bodily and mental abilities. This idea is usually presented as a key to a better…

A Prospective Framework for the Design of Ideal Artificial Moral Agents: Insights from the Science of Heroism in Humans

The growing field of machine morality has becoming increasingly concerned with how to develop artificial moral agents. However, there is little consensus on what constitutes an ideal moral agent let alone an artificial one. Leveraging a recent account of heroism in humans, the aim of this paper is to provide a prospective framework for conceptualizing,…

Cultural Techniques: Or the End of the Intellectual Postwar Era in German Media Theory

This paper seeks to introduce cultural techniques to an Anglophone readership. It relates the re-emergence of cultural techniques (a concept first employed in the 19th century in an agricultural context) to the changing intellectual constellation of postwar Germany. More specifically, it traces how the concept evolved from – and reacted against – so-called German media…

Artificial intelligence and Popper’s solution to the problem of induction

Popper maintained that induction plays no role in scientific inquiry, practical action or belief formation processes. Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and closely related fields of investigation, such as machine learning, have been claiming to undermine this view. I shall raise some difficulties for this particular challenge to Popper's anti-inductivism. AI research, no matter how…

Contemporary Governance Architecture Regarding Robotics Technologies: An Assessment

Even a cursory review of the contemporary governance architecture regarding military technological innovation generally reveals a disturbing lack of consensus regarding the necessity for governance and methodologies to be utilized to achieve it. Innovations, adaptations, and uses in the areas of nanotechnology, bio-science, information science, cognitive technologies - referred to generally as NBIC - and…

Is the Concept of an Ethical Governor Philosophically Sound?

In a series of publications, Ronald Arkin and his team (Arkin, 2009; Arkin et al., 2009) have proposed the concept of an ethical governor, which is supposed to effectively control and enforce the ethical use of lethal force by robots on the battlefield. The idea of an ethical governor, although presently of little influence on…

Terminator Niches

The aim of this paper is to connect studies in cognitive niches with the diffusion of high-technologies, cyborgs and robots, so as to obtain a new framework for analyzing some dilemmas of future technological developments. Digital technologies dramatically boosted the niche constructing dynamics by allowing the construction of new informational environments and by the addition…