Interdisciplinary Confusion and Resolution in the Context of Moral Machines

doi: 10.1007/s11948-022-00378-1.


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Jakob Stenseke.

Sci Eng Ethics.



Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have fueled widespread academic discourse on the ethics of AI within and across a diverse set of disciplines. One notable subfield of AI ethics is machine ethics, which seeks to implement ethical considerations into AI systems. However, since different research efforts within machine ethics have discipline-specific concepts, practices, and goals, the resulting body of work is pestered with conflict and confusion as opposed to fruitful synergies. The aim of this paper is to explore ways to alleviate these issues, both on a practical and theoretical level of analysis. First, we describe two approaches to machine ethics: the philosophical approach and the engineering approach and show how tensions between the two arise due to discipline specific practices and aims. Using the concept of disciplinary capture, we then discuss potential promises and pitfalls to cross-disciplinary collaboration. Drawing on recent work in philosophy of science, we finally describe how metacognitive scaffolds can be used to avoid epistemological obstacles and foster innovative collaboration in AI ethics in general and machine ethics in particular.


AI ethics; Applied epistemology; Artificial moral agent; Disciplinary perspectives; Interdisciplinarity; Machine ethics.


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