On the matter of robot minds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


One reason it matters whether phenomenally conscious robots will soon be forthcoming is that such robots would have moral rights. The view that they are on the horizon often rests on a certain philosophical view about consciousness, one called “nomological behaviorism” in this chapter. The view entails that, as a matter of nomological necessity, if a robot had exactly the same patterns of dispositions to peripheral behavior as a phenomenally conscious being, then the robot would be phenomenally conscious. The chapter experimentally investigates whether the folk think that certain (hypothetical) robots made of silicon and steel would have the same conscious states as certain familiar biological beings with the same patterns of dispositions to peripheral behavior as the robots. The findings provide evidence that the folk largely reject the view that silicon-based robots would have the sensations that they, the folk, attribute to the biological beings in question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 2
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages43
ISBN (Electronic)9780198815259
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Analytical behaviorism
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Dispositions to peripheral behavior
  • Human-level intelligence
  • Nomological behaviorism
  • Nomological necessity
  • Phenomenal consciousness
  • Robo-ethics
  • Sentience


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