Sven Nyholm

Sven Nyholm
Utrecht University | UU · Department of Philosophy

PhD

About

64
Publications
27,519
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1,014
Citations
Additional affiliations
April 2012 - March 2015
University of Cologne
Position
  • Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Publications

Publications (64)
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...
Chapter
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The ongoing pandemic has led some people to speak about a 'new normal', since we have temporarily had to radically change how we live our lives to protect ourselves and others from the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. That expression-'a new normal'-has been also be used in other contexts, such as in relation to societal disruptions brought about by...
Chapter
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This chapter discusses whether technological manipulation poses threats to our opportunities to live meaningful lives, have meaningful relationships, or do meaningful work. It starts with a discussion of what we should understand by technological manipulation, which makes use of Marcia Baron's more general account of manipulation. It then discusses...
Chapter
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This chapter starts with a discussion of what sex robots are and could be, distinguishing between humanoid sex robots (designed to look and act like human beings) and non-humanoid sex robots. The chapter then critically discusses two moral objections to humanoid sex robots: first, that they might reinforce negative stereotypes about-and lead to obj...
Chapter
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While it is widely thought that activities and lives can be meaningful or meaningless, this chapter explores the possibility that they could also be "anti-meaningful." Anti-meaning is the opposite of meaning. This chapter has two main objectives: first, it discusses what anti-meaning is (or could be taken to be); second, it discusses whether there...
Chapter
The rapid introduction of different kinds of robots and other machines with artificial intelligence into different domains of life raises the question of whether robots can be moral agents and moral patients. In other words, can robots perform moral actions? Can robots be on the receiving end of moral actions? To explore these questions, this chapt...
Article
The absence of meaningfulness in life is meaninglessness. But what is the polar opposite of meaningfulness? In recent and ongoing work together with Stephen Campbell and Marcello di Paola respectively, I have explored what we dub ‘anti-meaning’: the negative counterpart of positive meaning in life. Here, I relate this idea of ‘anti-meaningful’ acti...
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Rapid developments in evolutionary computation, robotics, 3D-printing, and material science are enabling advanced systems of robots that can autonomously reproduce and evolve. The emerging technology of robot evolution challenges existing AI ethics because the inherent adaptivity, stochasticity, and complexity of evolutionary systems severely weake...
Article
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Drawing on more than eight years working to implement Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the Human Brain Project, a large EU-funded research project that brings together neuroscience, computing, social sciences, and the humanities, and one of the largest investments in RRI in one project, this article offers insights on RRI and explores i...
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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...
Article
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Recent years have seen a growing interest in the ethics of sex robots, fuelled by the technology industry's ability to build better and better robots that can be used as sex toys (such as realdoll.com). Although the pros and cons of sex robots have been discussed for several years in the philosophy of technology, only a few contributions have focus...
Article
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In a fascinating recent paper, Matthias Braun considers how digital twins might represent a patient. He claims, among other things, that we can view a digital twin as an extension of a patient's body. I discuss this idea, and suggest that it should be compared with Clark and Chalmers' well-known extended mind thesis.
Article
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This article provides a comprehensive overview of the main ethical issues related to the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on human society. AI is the use of machines to do things that would normally require human intelligence. In many areas of human life, AI has rapidly and significantly affected human society and the ways we interact with ea...
Article
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In this paper, we discuss the ethics of automated driving. More specifically, we discuss responsible human-robot coordination within mixed traffic: i.e. traffic involving both automated cars and conventional human-driven cars. We do three main things. First, we explain key differences in robotic and human agency and expectation-forming mechanisms t...
Article
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The literature on ethics and user attitudes towards AVs discusses user concerns in relation to automation; however, we show that there are additional relevant issues at stake. To assess adolescents’ attitudes regarding the ‘car of the future’ as presented by car manufacturers, we conducted two studies with over 400 participants altogether. We used...
Article
Robots zijn op steeds meer werkplekken te vinden en veranderen het werk van mensen. Er is echter onvoldoende aandacht voor de invloed van robots op de betekenisvolheid van werk, hoewel aangenomen kan worden dat robotisering hiervoor zowel een bedreiging als een kans vormt. Wij onderzoeken het effect van robots op verschillende dimensies van beteken...
Article
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In 2013 the Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management initiated a policy programme that aimed to develop a transition towards smart mobility. A Roadmap was developed to support the policy innovation programme because previous initiatives have failed due to the lack of a strategic document. The Roadmap’s first transition pathway (policy...
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The concept of meaningful work has recently received increased attention in philosophy and other disciplines. However, the impact of the increasing robotization of the workplace on meaningful work has received very little attention so far. Doing work that is meaningful leads to higher job satisfaction and increased worker well-being, and some argue...
Article
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This paper discusses the robotization of the workplace, and particularly the question of whether robots can be good colleagues. This might appear to be a strange question at first glance, but it is worth asking for two reasons. Firstly, some people already treat robots they work alongside as if the robots are valuable colleagues. It is worth reflec...
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The so-called Disability Paradox arises from the apparent tension between the popular view that disability leads to low well-being and the relatively high life-satisfaction reports of disabled people. Our aim in this essay is to make some progress toward dissolving this alleged paradox by exploring the relationship between disability and various "g...
Book
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Can robots perform actions, make decisions, collaborate with humans, be our friends, perhaps fall in love, or potentially harm us? Even before these things truly happen, ethical and philosophical questions already arise. The reason is that we humans have a tendency to spontaneously attribute minds and "agency" to anything even remotely humanlike. M...
Article
Drawing on insights from robotics, psychology, and human-computer interaction, developers of sex robots are currently aiming to create emotional bonds of attachment and even love between human users and their products. This is done by creating robots that can exhibit a range of facial expressions, that are made with human-like artificial skin, and...
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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...
Article
John Harris discusses the problem of other minds, not as it relates to other human minds, but rather as it relates to artificial intelligences. He also discusses what might be called bilateral mind-reading: humans trying to read the minds of artificial intelligences and artificial intelligences trying to read the minds of humans. Lastly, Harris dis...
Article
Philip Pettit has identified some interesting apparent commonalities among core human values, from love and friendship, to virtue, to respect. These are all, Pettit argues, ‘robustly demanding’: they require us to provide certain benefits across ranges of alternative scenarios. Pettit also suggests a general ‘rationale’ for valuing such goods, whic...
Article
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Many ethicists writing about automated systems (e.g. self-driving cars and autonomous weapons systems) attribute agency to these systems. Not only that, they seemingly attribute an autonomous or independent form of agency to these machines. This leads some ethicists to worry about responsibility-gaps and retribution-gaps in cases where automated sy...
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In a recent article, Sabine Müller, Merlin Bittlinger, and Henrik Walter launch a sweeping attack against what they call the "personal identity debate" as it relates to patients treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS). In this critique offered by Müller et al., the so-called personal identity debate is said to: (a) be metaphysical in a problemati...
Article
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Self‐driving cars hold out the promise of being much safer than regular cars. Yet they cannot be 100% safe. Accordingly, we need to think about who should be held responsible when self‐driving cars crash and people are injured or killed. We also need to examine what new ethical obligations might be created for car users by the safety potential of s...
Article
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Self‐driving cars hold out the promise of being much safer than regular cars. Yet they cannot be 100% safe. Accordingly, they need to be programmed for how to deal with crash scenarios. Should cars be programmed to always prioritize their owners, to minimize harm, or to respond to crashes on the basis of some other type of principle? The article fi...
Article
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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...
Article
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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...
Article
Iddo Landau understands a meaningful life as a life containing a sufficient number of sufficiently valuable aspects. Do the world's and the human condition's imperfections threaten meaning, thus understood? Landau argues that we can have a sufficient number of sufficiently valuable parts of our lives, even if the world is imperfect and the human co...
Article
In this paper, we engage in dialogue with Jonathan Pugh, Hannah Maslen, and Julian Savulescu about how to best interpret the potential impacts of deep brain stimulation on the self. We consider whether ordinary people’s convictions about the true self should be interpreted in essentialist or existentialist ways. Like Pugh et al., we argue that it i...
Chapter
Full-text available
Some critics of sex-robots worry that their use might spread objectifying attitudes about sex, and common sense places a higher value on sex within love-relationships than on casual sex. If there could be mutual love between humans and sex-robots, this could help to ease the worries about objectifying attitudes. And mutual love between humans and s...
Article
In this article, we engage in dialogue with Jonathan Pugh, Hannah Maslen, and Julian Savulescu about how to best interpret the potential impacts of deep brain stimulation on the self. We consider whether ordinary peoples’ convictions about the true self should be interpreted in essentialist or existentialist ways. Like Pugh, Maslen, and Savulescu,...
Article
Full-text available
The development of highly humanoid sex robots is on the technological horizon. If sex robots are integrated into the legal community as “electronic persons”, the issue of sexual consent arises, which is essential for legally and morally permissible sexual relations between human persons. This paper explores whether it is conceivable, possible, and...
Article
The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate has two chief aims. These aims are to help readers understand the existing debate and to move the debate forward. The book consists of an introductory chapter by Alberto Giubilini and Sagar Sanyal (which lays out some prominent bioconservative objections to enhancement), eight essays grouped...
Article
It is commonly thought that on Kant’s view of action, ‘everyone always acts on maxims.’ Call this the ‘descriptive reading.’ This reading faces two important problems: first, the idea that people always act on maxims offends against common sense: it clashes with our ordinary ideas about human agency. Second, there are various passages in which Kant...
Article
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Stephen Campbell, Connie Ulrich, and Christine Grady argue that we need to a broader understanding of moral distress – broader, that is, than the one commonly used within nursing-ethics and, more recently, healthcare ethics in general. On their proposed definition, moral distress is any self-directed negative attitude we might have in response to v...
Article
Full-text available
Self-driving cars hold out the promise of being safer than manually driven cars. Yet they cannot be a 100% safe. Collisions are sometimes unavoidable. So self-driving cars need to be programmed for how they should respond to scenarios where collisions are highly likely or unavoidable. The accident-scenarios self-driving cars might face have recentl...
Article
One of the topics that often comes up in ethical discussions of deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the question of what impact DBS has, or might have, on the patient’s self. This is often understood as a question of whether DBS poses a “threat” to personal identity, which is typically understood as having to do with psychological and/or narrative cont...
Article
Hübner and White argue that we should not administer DBS to psychopathic prisoners. While we are sympathetic to their conclusion, we argue that the authors’ two central arguments for this conclusion are problematic. Their first argument appeals to an overly restrictive conception of individual medical benefit: namely, that an individual medical ben...
Article
Full-text available
It is widely recognized that lives and activities can be meaningful or meaningless, but few have appreciated that they can also be anti-meaningful . Anti-meaning is the polar opposite of meaning. Our purpose in this essay is to examine the nature and importance of this new and unfamiliar topic. In the first part, we sketch four theories of anti-mea...
Article
Would a "medicalization" of love be a "good" or "bad" form of medicalization? In discussing this question, Earp, Sandberg, and Savulescu primarily focus on the potential positive and negative consequences of turning love into a medical issue. But it can also be asked whether there is something intrinsically regrettable about medicalizing love. It i...
Article
According to Haidt’s “social intuitionist model”, empirical moral psychology supports the following conclusion: intuition comes first, strategic reasoning second. Critics have responded by arguing that intuitions can depend on non-conscious reasons, that not being able to articulate one’s reasons doesn’t entail not being responsive to reasons, and...
Book
This book offers new readings of Kant’s “universal law” and “humanity” formulations of the categorical imperative. It shows how, on these readings, the formulas do indeed turn out being alternative statements of the same basic moral law, and in the process responds to many of the standard objections raised against Kant’s theory. Its first chapter b...
Article
Kantians are increasingly deserting the universal law formula in favor of the humanity formula. The former, they argue, is open to various decisive objections; the two are not equivalent; and it is only by appealing to the humanity formula that Kant can reliably generate substantive implications from his theory of an acceptable sort. These assessme...
Chapter
There has been a long history of arguments over whether happiness is anything more than a particular set of psychological states. On one side, some philosophers have argued that there is not, endorsing a descriptive view of happiness. Affective scientists have also embraced this view and are reaching a near consensus on a definition of happiness as...
Article
In fascinating recent work, Julian Savulescu and his various co-authors argue that human love is one of the things we can improve upon using biomedical enhancements. Is that so? This article first notes that Savulescu and his co-authors mainly treat love as a means to various other goods. Love, however, is widely regarded as an intrinsic good. To i...
Article
Besser-Jones holds that well-being consists in having the experience of satisfying three innate psychological needs at the core of human nature: "relatedness," "autonomy," and "competence." Of these three, the first is the most central one, and we satisfy it by interacting with our fellows in caring and respectful ways: by "acting well." To act wel...
Article
Writers like Christine Korsgaard and Allen Wood understand Kant's idea of rational nature as an end in itself as a commitment to a substantive value. This makes it hard for them to explain the supposed equivalence between the universal law and humanity formulations of the categorical imperative, since the former does not appear to assert any substa...
Article
Full-text available
This dissertation is a philosophical commentary on the Prussian Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant's "Universal Law" and "Humanity" formulations of the categorical imperative (i.e. the most basic principle of morality or virtuousness). The former says to choose one's basic guiding principles (or "maxims") on the basis of their fitness to serve...
Chapter
In this paper, I discuss practical reasons and value, assuming a coexistence thesis according to which reasons and value always go together. I start by doing some taxonomy, distinguishing among three different ways of accounting for the relation between practical reasons and the good. I argue that, of these views, the most plausible one is that acc...
Article
The questions that I will be discussing are: Q1: What is the relation (and difference) between normative reasons and motivating (and/or explanatory) reasons? and Q2: When are, or in virtue of what are, acts, desires or beliefs rational (or irrational)? Because the two subjects that I will discuss - reasons and rationality - are so closely related,...

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Project (1)
Project
To map and understand the legal, social and ethical implications of algorithmic governance.