Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):685-698 (2018)

Authors
Dietmar Hübner
Universität Hannover
Lucie White
Utrecht University
Abstract
The prospective introduction of autonomous cars into public traffic raises the question of how such systems should behave when an accident is inevitable. Due to concerns with self-interest and liberal legitimacy that have become paramount in the emerging debate, a contractarian framework seems to provide a particularly attractive means of approaching this problem. We examine one such attempt, which derives a harm minimisation rule from the assumptions of rational self-interest and ignorance of one’s position in a future accident. We contend, however, that both contractarian approaches and harm minimisation standards are flawed, due to a failure to account for the fundamental difference between those ‘involved’ and ‘uninvolved’ in an impending crash. Drawing from classical works on the trolley problem, we show how this notion can be substantiated by reference to either the distinction between negative and positive rights, or to differences in people’s claims. By supplementing harm minimisation with corresponding constraints, we can develop crash algorithms for autonomous cars which are both ethically adequate and promise to overcome certain significant practical barriers to implementation.
Keywords autonomous cars  crash algorithms  harm minimization  trolley problem  self-driving vehicles
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-018-9910-x
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References found in this work BETA

Autonomous Cars: In Favor of a Mandatory Ethics Setting.Jan Gogoll & Julian F. Müller - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (3):681-700.
Morality and the Theory of Rational Behavior.John Harsanyi - 1977 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 44 (4):623-656.

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Citations of this work BETA

How Should Autonomous Vehicles Redistribute the Risks of the Road?Brian Berkey - 2019 - Wharton Public Policy Initiative Issue Brief 7 (9):1-6.

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