Moral Orthoses: A New Approach to Human and Machine Ethics

M. Dorobantu, Yorick Wilks

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Machines are increasingly involved in decisions with ethical implications, which require ethical explanations. Current machine learning algorithms are ethically inscrutable, but not in a way very different from human behavior. This article looks at the role of rationality and reasoning in traditional ethical thought and in artificial intelligence, emphasizing the need for some explainability of actions. It then explores Neil Lawrence's embodiment factor as an insightful way of looking at the differences between human and machine intelligence, connecting it to the theological understanding of embodiment, relationality, and personhood. Finally, it proposes the notion of artificial moral orthoses, which could provide ethical explanations for both artificial and human agents, as a more promising unifying approach to human and machine ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1021
Number of pages18
JournalZygon: Journal of Religion and Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • artificial companions
  • artificial intelligence
  • embodiment
  • ethics
  • Explainable AI
  • David Hume
  • Neil Lawrence
  • machine learning
  • relationality
  • theology


Dive into the research topics of 'Moral Orthoses: A New Approach to Human and Machine Ethics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this