Can a Machine Have Rights?

Statement

No conceivable machine would be entitled to personal rights.*

Q1 Analysis

This is a Q1 violation if it is in conflict with your criteria for determining whether or not something has personal rights.

Q2 Analysis

This may be a Q2 violation if there is disagreement about what qualifies as a machine. For example, would a cyborg be a machine?

Discussion

There are several ways in which you might conclude that a machine cannot have personal rights. For example, a machine would likely not be entitled to personal rights if:

However, there is a downside to each of these:

Unfortunately, arguments for machines eventually having personal rights do not necessarily fare much better. If personal rights are granted to all living things, it must be shown how a machine can be determined to be alive. If rights are granted to sentient beings, we again have the problem of having to determine whether a machine is sentient.*

Other topics to consider:

*For the purpose of this discussion, I’m defining personal rights as the right to live, to not be abused, and to defend yourself.

*We essentially take it on faith that other people — let alone machines — are self-aware. There’s no way to unequivocally distinguish self-awareness from an excellent imitation of self-awareness.

You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.

Posted on February 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: 2Q

One Response

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  1. Written by Victor
    on February 12, 2011 at 1:55 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Very interesting questions, I may be wrong and I am open to others opinions but this is what I think as of now:

    We humans are essencially biological machines, our bones, our organs, our muscles all work toghether to achieve our movement and make us human in appearance. We agree that conscioussnes is something that could in fact exist beyond what our physical bodies may be limited to, I am not talking about soul or spirits but rather the fact that even when your body is not moving and you are not brain dead you are still thinking, reasoning, in these aspects you are your brain and you develop your brain from the moment you are born, perhaps even before. I think an organic brain and a CPU with the same capacity could in fact be turned into the same thing, it all depends on how that being gets shaped by its environment or by its own consciousness.

    human-level robots and humans may actually merge into the same thing, but I think we all agree that there is indeed good and evil, or at least acts that bring positive or negative consecuences and these may continue on until the end… no, rather this will continue forever.

    The point is being human goes beyond our bodies, if a non-organic sentient being has the capacity to distinguish right from wrong and chooses to do right then that being has already become more human than most humans actually are.

    Thats my opinion though, I am open to discussion.

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