Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 239–241 | Cite as

Mark Coeckelbergh: Growing moral relations: critique of moral status ascription

Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2012, 239 pp, ISBN: 978-1-137-02595-1
  • David J. Gunkel
Book Review

In the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn (1962) famously distinguished between what he called “normal science” and those rare but necessary instances of paradigm shift, when there is a fundamental transformation in the very rules of the game. I do not think it is hyperbole to say that Mark Coeckelbergh’s Growing Moral Relations: Critique of Moral Status Ascription is a book that is situated at, and contributes to what can only be described as, a significant paradigm shift in moral thinking. It is, in other words, a real game changer.

The subject of Coeckelbergh’s book is moral status ascription, or more precisely the problem of deciding who is morally significant and what is not. These two small, seemingly simple words, as Jacques Derrida (2005, p. 80) has reminded us, are not unimportant. They make all the difference, for they distinguish between persons who have moral standing and what are considered to be mere things. This decision (quite literally a cut that is made...


  1. Allen, C., Varner, G., & Zinser, J. (2000). Prolegomena to any future artificial moral agent. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 12, 251–261.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bentham, J. (2005). In: J. H. Burns & H. L. Hart (Eds.), An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Callicott, J. B. (1989). In defense of the land ethic: Essays in environmental philosophy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  4. Derrida, J. (2005). Paper machine. (R. Bowlby, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Levinas, E. (1969). Totality and infinity (A. Lingis, Trans.). Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Sparrow, R. (2004). The turing triage test. Ethics and Information Technology, 6(4), 203–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DekalbUSA

Personalised recommendations