Against Human Exceptionalism: Environmental Ethics and the Machine Question

  • Migle LaukyteEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 134)


This paper offers an approach for addressing the question of how to deal with artificially intelligent entities, such as robots, mindclones, androids, or any other entity having human features. I argue that to this end we can draw on the insights offered by environmental ethics, suggesting that artificially intelligent entities ought to be considered not as entities that are extraneous to the human social environment, but as forming an integral part of that environment. In making this argument I take a radical strand of environmental ethics, namely, Deep Ecology, which sees all entities as existing in an inter-relational environment: I thus reject any “firm ontological divide in the field of existence” (Fox W, Deep ecology: A new philosophy of our time? In: Light A, Rolston III H (eds) Environmental ethics: An anthologyBlackwell, Oxford, 252–261, 2003) and on that basis I introduce principles of biospherical egalitarianism, diversity, and symbiosis (Naess A, Inquiry 16(1):95–100, 1973). Environmental ethics makes the case that humans ought to “include within the realms of recognition and respect the previously marginalized and oppressed” ((Gottlieb RS, Introduction. In: Merchant C (ed) Ecology. Humanity Books, Amherst, pp ix–xi, 1999)). I thus consider (a) whether artificially intelligent entities can be described along these lines, as somehow “marginalized” or “oppressed,” (b) whether there are grounds for extending to them the kind of recognition that such a description would seem to call for, and (c) whether Deep Ecology could reasonably be interpreted in such a way that it apply to artificially intelligent entities.


Moral responsibility Environmental ethics Deep ecology Artificial intelligence Artificial agency 



This paper is part of the project ALLIES (Artificially Intelligent Entities: Their Legal Status in the Future) that has received funding from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement n° 600371, el Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (COFUND2014-51509) el Ministerio de Educación, cultura y Deporte (CEI-15-17) and Banco Santander.”


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Private LawUniversidad Carlos III de MadridMadridSpain

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