Crash Algorithms for Autonomous Cars: How the Trolley Problem Can Move Us Beyond Harm Minimisation

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

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.

Similar books and articles

Autonomous Cars: In Favor of a Mandatory Ethics Setting.Jan Gogoll & Julian F. Müller - 2017 - Science and Engineering Ethics 23 (3):681-700.
The Trolley Problem Mysteries.Eric Rakowski (ed.) - 2016 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press USA.
Safer self-injury or assisted self-harm?Kerry Gutridge - 2010 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (1):79-92.
Rights against polluters.Andrew Kernohan - 1995 - Environmental Ethics 17 (3):245-257.
Rights against Polluters.Andrew Kernohan - 1995 - Environmental Ethics 17 (3):245-257.
Trolley Cases and Being ‘In the Realm,’.Michael Barnwell - 2010 - Southwest Philosophical Studies 32:29-35.
Boulders and Trolleys.D. W. Haslett - 2011 - Utilitas 23 (3):268-287.

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-07-24

Downloads
1,085 (#6,435)

6 months
110 (#7,173)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Lucie White
Utrecht University

References found in this work

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.

View all 7 references / Add more references