Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 299–309 | Cite as

Robots, law and the retribution gap

  • John DanaherEmail author
Original Paper


We are living through an era of increased robotisation. Some authors have already begun to explore the impact of this robotisation on legal rules and practice. In doing so, many highlight potential liability gaps that might arise through robot misbehaviour. Although these gaps are interesting and socially significant, they do not exhaust the possible gaps that might be created by increased robotisation. In this article, I make the case for one of those alternative gaps: the retribution gap. This gap arises from a mismatch between the human desire for retribution and the absence of appropriate subjects of retributive blame. I argue for the potential existence of this gap in an era of increased robotisation; suggest that it is much harder to plug this gap than it is to plug those thus far explored in the literature; and then highlight three important social implications of this gap.


Robotics Law Moral responsibility Liability gaps Retribution gaps 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawNUI GalwayGalwayIreland

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