Can technological artefacts be moral agents?

M.B. Peterson, A. Spahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
226 Downloads (Pure)


paper we discuss the hypothesis that, ‘moral agency is distributed over both humans and technological artefacts’, recently proposed by Peter-Paul Verbeek. We present some arguments for thinking that Verbeek is mistaken. We argue that artefacts such as bridges, word processors, or bombs can never be (part of) moral agents. After having discussed some possible responses, as well as a moderate view proposed by Illies and Meijers, we conclude that technological artefacts are neutral tools that are at most bearers of instrumental value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-424
Number of pages14
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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