Viewing Assignment of Moral Status to Service Robots from the Theological Ethics of Paul Tillich: Some Hard Questions

Theodore Metzler

This paper initially addresses the possibility that expanding human-robot interaction (HRI) - particularly HRI involving humanoid service robots - may increasingly encourage de facto assignment of some measures of moral status to such artifacts. Finding reasons to believe that emergence of a social phenomenon of this kind is plausible, it then examines such assignment from the perspective of a specific example of contemporary Christian theology - viz., the theological ethics of Paul Tillich. Results of the examination raise questions strongly encouraging continued multidisciplinary attention to implications of expanding HRI wherever understandings of morality resembling those of Tillich are meaningful.

Subjects: 17. Robotics; 9.4 Philosophical Foundations

Submitted: May 14, 2007

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