Category Archives: ethical questions

Sex robots

The Guardian has an interesting article on sex robots. Doctor Aimee van Wynsberghe points out that sex robots both offers possibilities and risks: on one hand this emerging technology could help certain people (elderly or disabled people) to get sexual satisfaction, but on the other hand there is the risk of increased objectification of women. Continue reading Sex robots


Space colonization and animal welfare

Some might be surprised to learn that an organization devoted to space colonization is dedicated to the cause of animal welfare. But those people overlook the fact that space colonization is for us not an end on itself, but rather a mean towards the end of creating a new society based on humanist values. Continue reading Space colonization and animal welfare

Animals in sport

The use of animals in competitive sports is controversial in animal welfare circles. The issue at stake is that animals are forced to perform physical efforts for the benefit of their human owners/caretakers. Since humans eager to win might be tempted to ask too much from their animals, while they unlike humans cannot give informed consent, this is not always to the benefit of these animals. There are known instances of people giving performance enhancing drugs to horses.

Earlier we advocated a total ban on blood sports as well to abolish animal racing. Instead of betting on animal races, people could bet on human races such as the 400m hurdling. But there are less cruel sports which involves animals. One of these sports is polo, a ball-and-stick game played on horseback.

An alternative variant of polo exist, however, in which horses are replaced with bicycles, and is known as cycle polo. This animal friendly game is usually played on grass (like traditional polo) or on hard court. The rules are basically the same as in horse polo. Cycle polo requires certain skills as one should able to steer his/her bike aswell being able to use his/her stick simultaneously.

Below a video on Cycle Polo:

Positive discrimination

In employment positive discrimination is the policy that if in case of a job vacancy there are two or more equally qualified applicants, the job will be awarded to those applicant who belongs to a disadvantaged group (such as ethnic minorities or women). At first sight positive discrimination seems to be attractive, but positive discrimination, as well the related concept of quota, has several issues.

Positive discrimination necessarily also implied negative discrimination, of those who are not a member of a disadvantaged group. If an employer has a preference (whether or not as result of government policy) for underprivileged applicants, than applicants of more advantaged backgrounds will have a lesser chance of getting a job. Though positive discrimination and quotas might be a good temporary measure to correct past injustices, if such policies are, however, pursued to long it will backfire.

A second concern of these, well-intended, policies is that they might actually reinforce those social attitudes which caused negative discrimination of certain groups. When there is in case of (more or less) equal qualifications, a preference for (say) either women or ethnic minorities, some people might think that one has received his/her job only because of his/her background and not because of his or her qualifications. Such attitudes, however unjust they might be, could be disastrous for an employee of a disadvantaged group.

If neither positive discrimination nor quotas might have adverse consequences, are there alternatives? Instead of positive discrimination, we could use random selection (a.k.a. lottery) as a procedure of rewarding a job in case of multiple more or less equally qualified applicants. This method is fair, in that it gives all qualified applicants an equal chance to get the job regardless of their background.

Robots and prostitution

Earlier we discussed the problems associated with prostitution (e.g. human traffic among others) on this site. We also proposed a system to solve some of these problems. In this post another “solution”: robot prostitutes.

In his book Love & Sex With Robots David Levy explores “the evolution of human-robot relationships”, more precisely romantic human-robot relationships. With having to summarize Levy’s book, he presents an argument why it is inevitable that people will have sex with robots, and that some people will even go so far as that they will “marry” their sex robot.

Not surprisingly Levy went on to discuss why people (men and women) visit prostitutes. He notes the similarity between paying a prostitute and either purchasing or renting [by the hour or the day] a sex robot.

For robot prostitution no significant technological breakthroughs are required, after all there are currently highly realistic sex dolls. Further animatronics is also well-developed, as is seen in these videos:

The main benefit of sex robots is that they cannot suffer, and hence they can be programmed to “like” being a prostitute. Therefore exploitation of [robot] sex workers will not be an issue. Maybe it will be an idea to ban human prostitution all together, and keep only robot prostitution legal.

Stop lethal injections

How much more evidence does one need, to understand that lethal injection should be abolished? Another US execution by lethal injection has horribly failed. Because of shortages of the drugs traditionally used in lethal injection, US states have experimented with other drugs. But those drugs are highly controversial, and for good reasons.

There’s only one conclusion to be made: abolish lethal injection immediately!

The call to abolish lethal injection should not be considered as a call to abolish capital punishment per se. In fact if lethal injection is continued, and lead s to many more botched executions, overall public support for the death penalty will decline.

It is our opinion that the debate about capital punishment should be based on rational arguments. Botched executions, however, only provide emotional arguments against the death penalty, and will bury any rational case in favour of capital punishment.