Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 31–46 | Cite as

Robotic Nudges: The Ethics of Engineering a More Socially Just Human Being

  • Jason BorensteinEmail author
  • Ron Arkin
Original Paper


Robots are becoming an increasingly pervasive feature of our personal lives. As a result, there is growing importance placed on examining what constitutes appropriate behavior when they interact with human beings. In this paper, we discuss whether companion robots should be permitted to “nudge” their human users in the direction of being “more ethical”. More specifically, we use Rawlsian principles of justice to illustrate how robots might nurture “socially just” tendencies in their human counterparts. Designing technological artifacts in such a way to influence human behavior is already well-established but merely because the practice is commonplace does not necessarily resolve the ethical issues associated with its implementation.


Autonomy Design ethics Nudges Paternalism Robot ethics Robot companions Rawls Social justice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Director of Graduate Research Ethics Programs, School of Public Policy and Office of Graduate StudiesGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.School of Interactive Computing, College of ComputingGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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