Tristan Florian
Author’s affiliation: Faculty of Law, Masaryk University Brno

Robots in the Context of Theories of Rights

Jurisprudence 4/2022 Section: Articles Page: 19-30

Keywords: robot rights, philosophy of artificial intelligence, theories of rights, will theory, interest theory

Abstract: The paper applies widely accepted theories of rights to the topic of robots. It first explains the different approaches to the definition of artificial intelligence and then deals with the definition of a robot. Next, it discusses the two fundamental theories of rights – will theory and interest theory. The will theory emphasizes rights as the protection of choices and is often criticized as non-inclusive of those who cannot make choices – animals, newborns, or people in a vegetative state. However, the author discusses that this may not be the case for robots, as robots can make more qualified decisions than humans in some areas. If rights are to serve the function of protecting choices, then robots that can make choices should have them. However, this would imply that an artificial entity would have a higher status than a living one, a conclusion that the text presents as a flaw of the will theory. The author discusses that one can argue in favour of robot rights through the interest theory, which emphasizes rights as the protection of interests of ultimate value – we can accept stronger legal protections for robots because such protections serve humans. However, the article argues against calling such protections robot rights when in fact, due to their artificial nature, they do not even have the potential to have any interests, and we can only use the interests of other actors to justify such protections. According to the author, the fact that we can justify robot rights through the widely accepted theories should make us challenge these theories rather than make us accept robot rights.