Robots and moral obligations

Authors Matthijs Smakman
Published in Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, 2016
Publication date 2016
Research groups Digital Ethics
Type Article


From the article: Using Roger Crisp’s arguments for well-being as the ultimate source of moral reasoning, this paper argues that there are no ultimate, non-derivative reasons to program robots with moral concepts such as moral obligation, morally wrong or morally right. Although these moral concepts should not be used to program robots, they are not to be abandoned by humans since there are still reasons to keep using them, namely: as an assessment of the agent, to take a stand or to motivate and reinforce behaviour. Because robots are completely rational agents they don’t need these additional motivations, they can suffice with a concept of what promotes well-being. How a robot knows which action promotes well-being to the greatest degree is still up for debate, but a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches seem to be the best way. The final publication is available at IOS Press through

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, 2016
Year and volume vol. 290 What Social Robots Can and Should Do
Key words Robots, Machine ethics, Moral obligation, Moral concepts, Moral judgment, Ethics, Decision making, Well-being
Page range pp. 184-189

Matthijs Smakman

Professor Matthijs Smakman

Matthijs Smakman

  • Professor
  • Research group: Smart Systems for Healthy Living