Computer Systems: Moral Entities but Not Moral Agents

TitleComputer Systems: Moral Entities but Not Moral Agents
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsJohnson, DG
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Volume8
Issue4
Pagination195-204
Type of ArticleJournal Article
Publication Languageeng
ISSN Number1388-1957
AbstractAfter discussing the distinction between artifacts and natural entities, and the distinction between artifacts and technology, the conditions of the traditional account of moral agency are identified. While computer system behavior meets four of the five conditions, computer systems do not have mental states. On the other hand, computer systems have intentionality, and because of this, they should not be dismissed from the realm of morality in the same way that natural objects are dismissed. Failure to recognize the intentionality of computer systems and their connection to human intentionality and action hides the moral character of computer systems. Computer systems are components in human moral action. When humans act with artifacts, their actions are constituted by the intentionality and efficacy of the artifact which, in turn, has been constituted by the intentionality and efficacy of the artifact designer. All three components -- artifact designer, artifact, and artifact user -- are at work when there is an action and all three should be the focus of moral evaluation.
NotesCover Date: 2006.Source Info: 8(4), 195-204. Language: English. Journal Announcement: 41-2. Subject: ARTIFACT; ETHICS; INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY; INTENTIONALITY; MORAL AGENCY; TECHNOLOGY. Update Code: 20100311.
URLhttp://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/papers/computer_systems.pdf
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