Philosophy Talks


Feb 17, 3:30 – 5 pm, Clark 214, Zac Cogley (Northern Michigan U)
Title: Future Autonomous Weapons Will Make Moral Decisions
Abstract: In this paper, I respond to two putative principled objections to the deployment of Autonomous Weapons Systems. Some philosophers think Autonomous Weapons Systems will never make moral judgments and must only follow preprogrammed rules. I show both claims are false by referencing the abilities of AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence that expertly plays the game Go. In the course of my argument, I also discuss reasons to think that future artificially intelligent systems will be able to instantiate human moral capacities. I do not defend the use of Autonomous Weapons Systems; I give insight into their potential ethical capabilities.

March 24, 3:30 – 5 pm, TBS, Julia Haas (Rhodes College)
Title: A Neuroeconomic Model of Moral Cognition

Abstract: How do human beings make choices involving moral dimensions? I propose a neuroeconomic model of moral choice. Standard neuroeconomic models hold that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) encodes participants’ valuation of material goods (e.g. food items) and propose a mechanism for how this encoding takes place (Plassman et al. 2007, Glimcher 2011, Padoa-Schioppa 2011). I argue that the OFC similarly encodes participants’ valuation of moral rules and present three possible encoding mechanisms. My account has important implications for our understanding of how normative choice develops in individual agents, including where the feeling that something is ‘just right’ or ‘just wrong’ comes from, and why moral rules affect individuals differently at different times. It further provides a principled alternative to the piecemeal approaches currently favored by many researchers in the neuroscience of morality.


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