John Danaher

John Danaher
National University of Ireland, Galway | NUI Galway · School of Law

BCL, LLM, PhD

About

87
Publications
58,346
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1,523
Citations
Citations since 2016
66 Research Items
1505 Citations
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Publications

Publications (87)
Article
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Suppose we are about to enter an era of increasing technological unemployment. What implications does this have for society? Two distinct ethical/social issues would seem to arise. The first is one of distributive justice: how will the (presumed) efficiency gains from automated labour be distributed through society? The second is one of personal fu...
Chapter
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In September 2015 a well-publicised Campaign Against Sex Robots (CASR) was launched. Modelled on the longer-standing Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, the CASR opposes the development of sex robots on the grounds that the technology is being developed with a particular model of female-male relations (the prostitute-john model) in mind, and that this...
Article
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We are living through an era of increased robotisation. Some authors have already begun to explore the impact of this robotisation on legal rules and practice. In doing so, many highlight potential liability gaps that might arise through robot misbehaviour. Although these gaps are interesting and socially significant, they do not exhaust the possib...
Chapter
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Populations in developed societies are rapidly aging: fertility rates are at all-time lows, while life expectancy creeps ever higher. This is triggering a social crisis in which shrinking youth populations are required to pay for the care and retirements of an aging majority. Some people argue that by extending the healthy and productive phases of...
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It is widely believed that a conservative moral outlook is opposed to biomedical forms of human enhancement. In this paper, I argue that this widespread belief is incorrect. Using Cohen's evaluative conservatism as my starting point, I argue that there are strong conservative reasons to prioritise the development of biomedical enhancements. In part...
Chapter
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How might emerging and future technologies-sex robots, love drugs, anti-love drugs, or algorithms to track, quantify, and 'gamify' romantic relationships-change how we understand and value love? We canvass some of the main ethical worries posed by such technologies, while also considering whether there are reasons for "cautious optimism" about thei...
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Ethics plays a key role in the normative analysis of the impacts of technology. We know that computers in general and the processing of data, the use of artificial intelligence , and the combination of computers and/or artificial intelligence with robotics are all associated with ethically relevant implications for individuals, groups, and society....
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Since moral revolutions have occurred in the past, it seems plausible to suppose that they will occur again in the future. What significance, if any, does this prospect have for our present normative outlook? This paper identifies eight ways in which this question may be answered, drawing on recent arguments in the philosophical literature. Our aim...
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Technologies can have profound effects on social moral systems. Is there any way to systematically investigate and anticipate these potential effects? This paper aims to contribute to this emerging field on inquiry through a case study method. It focuses on two core human values—truth and trust—describes their structural properties and conceptualis...
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There is a concern that the widespread deployment of autonomous machines will open up a number of 'responsibility gaps' throughout society. Various articulations of such techno-responsibility gaps have been proposed over the years, along with several potential solutions. Most of these solutions focus on 'plugging' or 'dissolving' the gaps. This pap...
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What is techno-optimism and how can it be defended? Although techno-optimist views are widely espoused and critiqued, there have been few attempts to systematically analyse what it means to be a techno-optimist and how one might defend this view. This paper attempts to address this oversight by providing a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of t...
Article
This volume presents thirty-two essays on a wide array of topics in modern philosophical meaning in life research. The essays are organized into six parts. Part I, Understanding Meaning in Life, focuses on various ways of conceptualizing meaning in life. Among other issues, it discusses whether meaning in life should be understood objectively or su...
Article
It is commonly assumed that a virtual life would be less meaningful (perhaps even meaningless). As virtual reality technologies develop and become more integrated into everyday lives, this poses a challenge for those who care about meaning in life. In this chapter, it is argued that the common assumption about meaninglessness and virtuality is mist...
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Assume that a researcher uncovers a major problem with how social media are currently used. What sort of challenges arise when they must subsequently decide whether or not to use social media to create awareness about this problem? This situation routinely occurs as ethicists navigate choices regarding how to effect change and potentially remedy th...
Article
Can human life have value in a world in which humans are rendered obsolete by technological advances? This article answers this question by developing an extended analysis of the axiological impact of human obsolescence. In doing so, it makes four main arguments. First, it argues that human obsolescence is a complex phenomenon that can take on at l...
Article
Advances in automation threaten to radically alter the workplace of the future. What implications does this have for the ethics of work? For better or worse, work plays a central role in distributing goods to people in the modern world. This includes the good of income, of course, but it also includes meaning-related goods such as a sense of purpos...
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This chapter addresses the growing problem of unwanted sexual interactions in virtual environments. It reviews the available evidence regarding the prevalence and severity of this problem. It then argues that due to the potential harms of such interactions, as well as their non-consensual nature, there is a good prima facie argument for viewing the...
Chapter
This chapter studies the future of retribution and, in particular, the role that robots will play in shaping that future. It begins by describing the Bouphonia ritual, which speaks to two important features of the human condition: the enduring significance of practices of blame and punishment in human life, and the occasional absurdity of this desi...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter addresses the growing problem of unwanted sexual interactions in virtual environments. It reviews the available evidence regarding the prevalence and severity of this problem. It then argues that due to the potential harms of such interactions, as well as their nonconsensual nature, there is a good prima facie argument for viewing them...
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Rapid advances in AI-based automation have led to a number of existential and economic concerns. In particular, as automating technologies develop enhanced competency they seem to threaten the values associated with meaningful work. In this article, we focus on one such value: the value of achievement. We argue that achievement is a key part of wha...
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The idea that humans should abandon their individuality and use technology to bind themselves together into hivemind societies seems both farfetched and frightening-something that is redolent of the worst dystopias from science fiction. In this article, we argue that these common reactions to the ideal of a hivemind society are mistaken. The idea t...
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Henry Shevlin's paper-"How could we know when a robot was a moral patient?"-argues that we should recognize robots and artificial intelligence (AI) as psychological moral patients if they are cognitively equivalent to other beings that we already recognize as psychological moral patients (i.e., humans and, at least some, animals). In defending this...
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Human values seem to vary across time and space. What implications does this have for the future of human value? Will our human and (perhaps) post-human offspring have very different values from our own? Can we study the future of human values in an insightful and systematic way? This article makes three contributions to the debate about the future...
Chapter
Full-text available
It is commonly assumed that a virtual life would be less meaningful (perhaps even meaningless). As virtual reality technologies develop and become more integrated into our everyday lives, this poses a challenge for those that care about meaning in life. In this chapter, it is argued that the common assumption about meaninglessness and virtuality is...
Chapter
Human societies have, historically, undergone a number of moral revolutions. Some of these have been precipitated by technological changes. Will the integration of robots into our social lives precipitate a new moral revolution? In this keynote, I will look at the history of moral revolutions and the role of techno-social change in facilitating tho...
Book
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This report presents the work of a European Commission Expert Group established to advise on specific ethical issues raised by driverless mobility for road transport. The report aims to promote a safe and responsible transition to connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) by supporting stakeholders in the systematic inclusion of ethical consideration...
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Can robots have significant moral status? This is an emerging topic of debate among roboticists and ethicists. This paper makes three contributions to this debate. First, it presents a theory—‘ethical behaviourism’—which holds that robots can have significant moral status if they are roughly performatively equivalent to other entities that have sig...
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[Forthcoming in Law, Innovation and Technology] Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly expected to disrupt the ordinary functioning of society. From how we fight wars or govern society, to how we work and play, and from how we create to how we teach and learn, there is almost no field of human activity which is believed to be entirely immune...
Article
Full-text available
Can human life have value in a world in which humans are rendered obsolete by technological advances? This article answers this question by developing an extended analysis of the axiological impact of human obsolescence. In doing so, it makes four main arguments. First, it argues that human obsolescence is a complex phenomenon that can take on at l...
Article
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If a robot sends a deceptive signal to a human user, is this always and everywhere an unethical act, or might it sometimes be ethically desirable? Building upon previous work in robot ethics, this article tries to clarify and refine our understanding of the ethics of robotic deception. It does so by making three arguments. First, it argues that we...
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This article argues that access to meaningful sexual experience should be included within the set of the goods that are subject to principles of distributive justice. It argues that some people are currently unjustly excluded from meaningful sexual experience and it is not implausible to suggest that they might thereby have certain claim rights to...
Chapter
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There is a growing sense of unease around algorithmic modes of governance ('algocracies') and their impact on freedom. Contrary to the emancipatory utopianism of digital enthusiasts, many now fear that the rise of algocracies will undermine our freedom. Nevertheless, there has been some struggle to explain exactly how this will happen. This chapter...
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In her target article, Karola Kreitmair (in press) discusses what she calls direct to consumer neurotechnologies (DTC neurotechnologies): technologies available on the market for monitoring or modulating neurological and psychological functioning. Kreitmair’s aim is to identify a set of basic ethical concerns that apply to this class of technologie...
Book
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(Forthcoming in September 2019) Human obsolescence is imminent. Automating technologies threaten to usher in a future of human redundancy. The factories of the future will work in the dark, staffed by armies of tireless robots. The hospitals of the future will have fewer doctors, depending instead on cloud-based AI to diagnose patients and recomme...
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This is the text of a lecture that I delivered at Tilburg University on the 24th of September 2019. It was delivered as part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations for TILT (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society). The lecture is based on my longer academic article ‘Welcoming Robots into the Moral Circle: A Defence of Ethical Behaviourism’...
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The lesson of the Apollo programme seems to be an ambivalent one. Its utopian packaging hides a more cynical and political core. In this lecture, I use the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings as an opportunity to speak about the future of human space exploration -- in particular about the value of human space exploration as a utopian project. I w...
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Divine Command Theories (DCTs) comes in several different forms but at their core all of these theories claims that certain moral statuses (most typically the status of being obligatory) exist in virtue of the fact that God has commanded them into exist. Several authors argue that this core version of the DCT is vulnerable to an epistemological obj...
Chapter
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How should we react to the development of sexbot technology? Taking their cue from anti-porn feminism, several academic critics lament the development of sexbot technology, arguing that it objectifies and subordinates women, is likely to promote misogynistic attitudes toward sex, and may need to be banned or restricted. In this chapter I argue for...
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A basic income might be able to correct for the income related losses of unemployment, but what about the meaning/purpose related losses? For better or worse, many people derive meaning and fulfillment from the jobs they do; if their jobs are taken away, they lose this source of meaning. If we are about the enter an era of rampant job loss as a res...
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We live in a world in which 'smart' algorithmic tools are regularly used to structure and control our choice environments. They do so by affecting the options with which we are presented and the choices that we are encouraged or able to make. Many of us make use of these tools in our daily lives, using them to solve personal problems and fulfill go...
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Sex is an important part of human life. It is a source of pleasure and intimacy, and is integral to many people's self-identity. This chapter examines the opportunities and challenges posed by the use of AI in how humans express and enact their sexualities. It does so by focusing on three main issues. First, it considers the idea of digisexuality,...
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Technology could be used to improve morality but it could do so in different ways. Some technologies could augment and enhance moral behaviour externally by using external cues and signals to push and pull us towards morally appropriate behaviours. Other technologies could enhance moral behaviour internally by directly altering the way in which the...
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This paper adds another argument to the rising tide of panic about robots and AI. The argument is intended to have broad civilization-level significance, but to involve less fanciful speculation about the likely future intelligence of machines than is common among many AI-doomsayers. The argument claims that the rise of the robots will create a cri...
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Friendship is an important part of the good life. While many roboticists are eager to create friend-like robots, many philosophers and ethicists are concerned. They argue that robots cannot really be our friends. Robots can only fake the emotional and behavioural cues we associate with friendship. Consequently, we should resist the drive to create...
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In July 2014, the roboticist Ronald Arkin suggested that child sex robots could be used to treat those with paedophilic predilections in the same way that methadone is used to treat heroin addicts. Taking this onboard, it would seem that there is reason to experiment with the regulation of this technology. But most people seem to disagree with this...
Article
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Personal AI assistants are now nearly ubiquitous. Every leading smartphone operating system comes with a personal AI assistant that promises to help you with basic cognitive tasks: searching, planning, messaging, scheduling and so on. Usage of such devices is effectively a form of algorithmic outsourcing: getting a smart algorithm to do something o...
Chapter
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There has been much hype about the implications of contemporary developments in neuroscience for the law. Pardo and Patterson are skeptical of this hype. 1 They argue that a good deal of the hype stems from simple philosophical errors and conceptual confusions. In the course of this critique, they offer particular objections to the forensic use of...
Chapter
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This chapter provides a general overview and introduction to the law and ethics of virtual sexual assault. It offers a definition of the phenomenon and argues that there are six interesting types. It then asks and answers three questions: (i) should we criminalise virtual sexual assault? (ii) can you be held responsible for virtual sexual assault?...
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A common objection to moral enhancement is that it would undermine our moral freedom and that this is a bad thing because moral freedom is a great good. Michael Hauskeller has defended this view on a couple of occasions using an arresting thought experiment called the “Little Alex” problem. In this chapter, I reconstruct the argument Hauskeller der...
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This article argues that the creation of artificial offspring could make our lives more meaningful (i.e. satisfy more meaning-relevant conditions of value). By ‘artificial offspring’ I mean beings that we construct, with a mix of human and non-human-like qualities. Robotic artificial intelligences are paradigmatic examples of the form. There are tw...
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According to the common view, conscientious objection is grounded in autonomy and is tolerated out of respect for the objector’s autonomy. Emphasising autonomy as a central concept within the issue of conscientious objection implies that the conscientious objector has an independent choice among alternative beliefs, positions or values. In this pap...
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Rape and sexual assault are major problems. In the majority of sexual assault cases consent is the central issue. Consent is, to borrow a phrase, the ‘moral magic’ that converts an impermissible act into a permissible one. In recent years, a handful of companies have tried to launch consent apps which aim to educate young people about the nature of...
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Our critics argue that quantified relationships (QR) will threaten privacy, undermine autonomy, reinforce prob- lematic business models, and promote epistemic injustice. We do not deny these risks. But to determine the appropriate policy response, it will be necessary to assess their likelihood, scope, and severity; how feasibly they can be mitigat...
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The growth of self-tracking and personal surveillance has given rise to the Quantified Self movement. Members of this movement seek to enhance their personal well-being, productivity and self-actualization through the tracking and gamification of personal data. The technologies that make this possible can also track and gamify aspects of our interp...
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Leading digital platform providers such as Google and Uber construct marketplaces in which algorithms set prices. The efficiency-maximising free market credentials of this approach are touted by the companies involved and by legislators, policy makers and marketers. They have also taken root in the public imagination. In this article we challenge t...
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We are living in an algorithmic age where mathematics and computer science are coming together in powerful new ways to influence, shape and guide our behaviour and the governance of our societies. As these algorithmic governance structures proliferate, it is vital that we ensure their effectiveness and legitimacy. That is, we need to ensure that th...
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This chapter introduces the edited collection Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications. It proposes a definition of the term 'sex robot' and examines some current prototype models. It also considers the three main ethical questions one can ask about sex robots: (i) do they benefit/harm the user? (ii) do they benefit/harm society? or (iii) do they...
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This chapter examines a common objection to sex robots: the symbolic-consequences argument. According to this argument sex robots are problematic because they symbolise something disturbing about our attitude to sex-related norms such as consent and the status of our sex partners, and because of the potential consequences of this symbolism. After f...
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One of the most noticeable trends in recent years has been the increasing reliance of public decision-making processes (bureaucratic, legislative and legal) on algorithms, i.e. computer-programmed step-by-step instructions for taking a given set of inputs and producing an output. The question raised by this article is whether the rise of such algor...
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Are universities justified in trying to regulate student use of cognitive enhancing drugs? In this article I argue that they can be, but that the most appropriate kind of regulatory intervention is likely to be voluntary in nature. To be precise, I argue that universities could justifiably adopt a commitment contract system of regulation wherein st...
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The meaning of an utterance is often enriched by the pragmatic context in which it is uttered. This is because in ordinary conversations we routinely and uncontroversially compress what we say, safe in the knowledge that those interpreting us will ‘add in’ the content we intend to communicate. Does the same thing hold true in the case of legal utte...
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This paper tries to clarify, strengthen and respond to two prominent objections to the development and use of human enhancement technologies. Both objections express concerns about the link between enhancement and the drive for hyperagency (i.e. the ability to control and manipulate all aspects of one's agency). The first derives from the work of S...
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The debate over the merits of originalism has advanced considerably in recent years, both in terms of its intellectual sophistication and its practical significance. In the process, some prominent originalists—Lawrence Solum and Jeffrey Goldsworthy being the two discussed here—have been at pains to separate out the linguistic and normative componen...
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Memory Detection Tests (MDTs) are a general class of psychophysiological tests that can be used to determine whether someone remembers a particular fact or datum. The P300 MDT is a type of MDT that relies on a presumed correlation between a detectable neural signal (the P300 “brainwave”) in a test subject, and the recognition of those facts in the...
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An advanced artificial intelligence (a “superintelligence”) could pose a significant existential risk to humanity. Several research institutes have been set-up to address those risks. And there is an increasing number of academic publications analysing and evaluating their seriousness. Nick Bostrom’s superintelligence: paths, dangers, strategies re...
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The lie detector test has long been treated with suspicion by the law. Recently, several authors have called this suspicion into question. They argue that the lie detector test may have considerable forensic benefits, particularly if we move past the classic, false positive-prone, autonomic nervous system-based (ANS-based) control question test, to...
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Soon there will be sex robots. The creation of such devices raises a host of social, legal and ethical questions. In this article, I focus in on one of them. What if these sex robots are deliberately designed and used to replicate acts of rape and child sexual abuse? Should the creation and use of such robots be criminalised, even if no person is h...
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Skeptical theism (ST) may undercut the key inference in the evidential argument from evil, but it does so at a cost. If ST is true, then we lose our ability to assess the all things considered (ATC) value of natural events and states of affairs. And if we lose that ability, a whole slew of undesirable consequences follow. So goes a common consequen...
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Is sex work (specifically, prostitution) vulnerable to technological unemployment? Several authors have argued that it is. They claim that the advent of sophisticated sexual robots will lead to the displacement of human prostitutes, just as, say, the advent of sophisticated manufacturing robots have displaced many traditional forms of factory labou...
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Theistic metaethics usually places one key restriction on the explanation of moral facts, namely: every moral fact must ultimately be explained by some fact about God. But the widely held belief that moral truths are necessary truths seems to undermine this claim. If a moral truth is necessary, then it seems like it neither needs nor has an explana...
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According to several authors, the enhancement project incorporates a quest for hyperagency - i.e. a state of affairs in which virtually every constitutive aspect of agency (beliefs, desires, moods, dispositions and so forth) is subject to our control and manipulation. This quest, it is claimed, undermines the conditions for a meaningful and worthwh...
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Klaming and Vedder (2010) have argued that enhancement technologies that improve the epistemic efficiency of the legal system (“epistemic enhancements”) would benefit the common good. But there are two flaws to Klaming and Vedder?s reasoning. First, they rely on an under-theorised and under-specified conception of the common good. When theory and s...
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Matthew Kramer has recently defended a novel justification for the death penalty, something he calls the purgative rationale. According to this rationale, the death penalty can be justifiably implemented if it is necessary in order to purge defilingly evil offenders from a moral community. Kramer claims that this rationale overcomes the problems as...
Chapter
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Should agents be held criminally responsible for the consequences of failing to make use of enhancement technologies? This chapter argues that they should, provided such technologies would have allowed them to avoid the risks associated with the state of abnormal agency. The argument comes in three parts. First, the current position with respect to...
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Bayne and Nagasawa have argued that the properties traditionally attributed to God provide an insufficient grounding for the obligation to worship God. They do so partly because the same properties, when possessed in lesser quantities by human beings, do not give rise to similar obligations. In a recent paper, Jeremy Gwiazda challenges this line of...
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Scientific evidence presents a problem for the courts: the subject-matter is often complex; the experts who present the evidence can be cherry picked and biased; and judges and juries are frequently unsure about how to weigh the evidence once it has been presented. This article diagnoses the problems associated with scientific evidence and then pro...
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I study the intersection between contemporary neuroscience and the theory of criminal responsibility. Hanging around disciplinary intersections like this can be fun: people don’t always look where they are going and if you wait long enough you might witness a crash or two. Casting aside the metaphor, my job begins by identifying the problems and te...

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Projects (8)
Project
This project defends a particular theory concerning how we assess the moral status of robots (and other entities). It then considers the various implications of this theory.
Project
Could robots have moral status? Should they have moral agency? This project evaluates the axiological possibilities of life with robots.