Can Machines Be Persons?

Published: 2021-09-13 17:40:09
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Category: Philosophy

Type of paper: Essay

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There are various philosophical issues that can be derived from the stimilus image. The robot is playing a trumpet so a possible issue could be the characteristics of person hood and if musical abilities is part of them. The issue I will specifically look at is the one relating to the differences between humans and machines and can therefore a robot be a person? This is because the artificial robot playing the trumpet denotes some sort of capability to understand how to play the instrument correctly. It is important to discuss because of the long debate there has been as to whether machines will ever be able to take over our lives and do everything for us, and also because of the increasing development of artificial intelligence. The two approaches I will look at are Descartes' view and functionalism. In this essay, I will argue that machines cannot be considered persons because they do not own the same amount of reason we do.
Rene Descartes, argues that machines could not be person on the grounds that are similar for the argument that animals could not be persons. Being a substance dualist, Descartes argued that persons have a mind and a body whereas machines (just like animals) only have a body (automata). A mind is the synonym for personhood. Descartes argues that machines can be programmed to answer and utter some words however they will never be able to give an "appropriately meaningful answer" based on what has been previously said. Conversely, however, he says even the "dullest men" can. Also, another reason as to why machines could not be persons is that, similarly to animals, there will be certain actions in which they will perform better than humans although that is because it is what they have been programmed to do based on certain organs. It is impossible, however, for a machine to have enough organs to perform every single action of a human being in order for it to prove it has reason. In the particular case of the stimulus, Descartes would say that the robot can play the trumpet only because it has been programmed to do so, yet that does not prove he is a person. Basically, it boils down to the fact Descartes argue machines cannot and will never own reason. In his opinion, reason is a feature which is absolutely required for something to be classified as a person: a necessary condition.

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