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Modern Laptop



Rowman and Littlefield (2023)

Humans appear to have a strong emotional attachment to social robots, treating them as if they were people or animals. In this book I propose a theory of social robots according to which they are entities with a fictional overlay, created by us through our engagement with them. The fictional dualism model of social robots explains our emotional bond with robots and allows it to flourish, without their being the kinds of entities that are appropriate for moral consideration. It also explains how we can trust social robots and provides a useful theory of robot ‘personal’ identity.


AI and Ethics (2022)

In this paper I argue that we need a more robust account of our ability and willingness to trust social robots. I motivate my argument by demonstrating that existing accounts of trust and of trusting social robots are inadequate. I identify that it is the feature of a façade or deception inherent in our engagement with social robots that both facilitates, and is in danger of undermining, trust. Finally, I utilise the fictional dualism model of social robots to clarify that trust in social robots, unlike trust in humans, must rely on an independent judgement of product reliability.

Minds and Machines (2022)

There is growing evidence for the fact that we react differently to robots than we do to other objects. In particular, we react differently to robots with which we have some form of social interaction. In this paper I critically engage with the claim, most prominently defended by Kate Darling (2016) that due to our tendency to become emotionally attached to social robots permitting their harm may be damaging for society and, as such, we should consider introducing legislation to grant social robots rights and protect them from harm.

Ethics and Information Technology (2021)

In this paper I propose a Fictional Dualism model of social robots that competes with the popular domesticated animal model. I show that those who point to our emotional attachment to social robots in order to argue in favour of extending rights to them rely on an assumption that has neither been made explicit nor defended. They assume that our emotional attachment to social robots has moral significance. This implicit assumption does not hold up under scrutiny. The assumption has drawn background support from an analogy between social robots and domesticated animals. I present an alternative model of social robots, the metaphysical model of Fictional Dualism. This model provides us with an explanation of our emotional attachment to social robots, whilst also clarifying the significance of that attachment. The positive framework of Fictional Dualism provides us with an understanding of what social robots are and with a plausible basis for our relationships with them, as we bring them further into society. Finally, I note that the granting of rights to social robots would significantly reduce their usefulness and, as such, should not be entered into unnecessarily.

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2021)

It is often assumed that an eternalist and a presentist will have the same emotional response to life's events because, regardless of one's metaphysical beliefs, we all have the same phenomenological experience of time passing and it is this experience that is relevant to emotional response. I question the assumption that beliefs about the metaphysics of time can have little impact on one's emotional responses and establish the position that scientific and metaphysical beliefs can offer succour.

Ratio (2020)

Nostalgia is standardly assumed to be directed towards the past, to involve some salient feeling of the irretrievability of the past, and to be directed towards the memory of an event. In this paper I argue that none of these standard assumptions hold. I use a time-traveller example to demonstrate that nostalgia is not essentially past-directed. Once nostalgia is prised from the objective past, we can examine the other purported conditions, making space for the conclusion that the felt irretrievability of the past is not the necessary feature of nostalgia that we assumed it to be. I then argue that the notion that nostalgia is directed towards the memory of an event is misguided. Finally, I distinguish two routes to nostalgia and, with this distinction in place, argue that nostalgia is neither essentially time nor place directed. Nostalgia is simply change-directed.

Recent Research: Publications
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