Why a Virtual Assistant for Moral Enhancement When We Could have a Socrates?

Science and Engineering Ethics 27 (4):1-27 (2021)
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Abstract

Can Artificial Intelligence be more effective than human instruction for the moral enhancement of people? The author argues that it only would be if the use of this technology were aimed at increasing the individual's capacity to reflectively decide for themselves, rather than at directly influencing behaviour. To support this, it is shown how a disregard for personal autonomy, in particular, invalidates the main proposals for applying new technologies, both biomedical and AI-based, to moral enhancement. As an alternative to these proposals, this article proposes a virtual assistant that, through dialogue, neutrality and virtual reality technologies, can teach users to make better moral decisions on their own. The author concludes that, as long as certain precautions are taken in its design, such an assistant could do this better than a human instructor adopting the same educational methodology.

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Author's Profile

Francisco Lara
University of the Philippines, Diliman

References found in this work

The idea of justice.Amartya Sen - 2009 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Superintelligence: paths, dangers, strategies.Nick Bostrom (ed.) - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
Unfit for the Future: The Need for Moral Enhancement.Ingmar Persson & Julian Savulescu - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK. Edited by Julian Savulescu.
Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry Frankfurt - 1971 - In Gary Watson (ed.), Free Will. Oxford University Press.

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