Back Cover Endorsements

"A thought-provoking look at the most interesting question in robot ethics: Can intelligent machines ever be considered as persons? The investigation is an impressively deep dive, drawing from many philosophical schools of thought."

-Patrick Lin, California Polytechnic State University, Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group

"At last, a masterful integration of the many disparate reflections on whether intelligent machines can ever be admitted to the community of moral subjects as either moral agents and/or moral patients. David Gunkel goes on to make a significant contribution to any further discussion of the topic in a final section that deconstructs the machine question from the perspective of continental philosophers including Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida. Machines have been the definitive 'other', not worthy of moral consideration, but as we contemplate the prospect that future machines might be conscious and perhaps even have feelings, we are forced to think deeply about who (or what) should be included in the moral order."

-Wendell Wallach, Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics

Published Reviews

"David Gunkel of NIU has produced a formidable new book on the question of whether machines should now be admitted to the community of moral beings. He lets us know what his underlying attitudes are when he mentions by way of introduction that he thought of calling the book A Vindication of the Rights of Machines, in imitation of Mary Wollstonecraft. Historically Gunkel sees the context as one in which a prolonged struggle has gradually extended the recognised moral domain from being the exclusive territory of rich white men to the poor, people of colour, women and now tentatively perhaps even certain charismatic animals..." Read More

-Peter Hankins, founder and editor of Conscious Entities blog

"There is something right about Gunkelís recognition that one can hardly consider the questions of machine morality without being led to more fundamental methodological and meta-ethical issues...He nevertheless succeeded in connecting the ethics of robots and AI to a much broader ethical discussion than has been represented in the literature on machine ethics to date." Read More

-Colin Allen, Indiana University and co-author of Moral Machines (OUP, 2012)
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews - 2013.02.13

"Gunkelís careful and remarkably comprehensive review of the literature will be useful to readers new to the field of machine ethics. But more importantly, this book shows that good, critical philosophical reflection on machines is not only about how we should cope with machines, but also about how we (should) think and what role technology plays (and should play) in this thinking. This book is not 'only' about machine ethics because, paradoxically, it shows that modern ethics has always been a machine ethics...." Read More

-Mark Coeckelbergh, University of Twente and author of Growing Moral Relations (Palgrave, 2012)
Ethics and Information Technology 15(3), pp. 235Ė238 (2013)

"Athough we may not be conversant with the body of scholarship David J. Gunkel calls 'the machine question,' this is a subject with which we are already quite familiar. 'Characters' like H.A.L. in 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) and Sonny in I, Robot (Proyas, 2004) have led us to wonder whether quotation marks belong around the word 'character.' In The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics, Gunkel presses this question from a philosophical perspective to determine whether machines should be encompassed in ethical considerations, and if so, how that might be possible." Read More

-Jeffrey D. Gottlieb, Florida State University
Ethics and Behavior 23(2), pp. 163-166 (2013)

"From the opening pages, The Machine Question is a delightful melange of graduate philosophy seminars, solemn debates at science fiction conventions, and weighty discussions over drinks in dimly-lit pubs. It is delightful mainly because such diversity of approach, content, and examples is too rarely found in an academic publication... Gunkel's book is worth reading and will likely find a place in courses dealing with the problems reflected in its title." Read More

-Peter H. Denton, The Royal Military College of Canada/Red River College
Essays in Philosophy 15(1), pp. 179-183 (2014).




© 2012 - David J. Gunkel