Vector Utilitarianism - Concept and Application of an Ethic for a Technological Present and Future

矢量效益主義 ─ 關於技術現狀與未來的倫理學的概念與應用

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date23 Nov 2017


This thesis outlines the foundations for, and concept of Vector Utilitarianism, an ethical framework intended in particular for the analysis and assessment of ethically significant situations involving technology. It begins by establishing its epistemological and ontological underpinnings, not deriving from, but firmly grounding the framework in scientific Naturalism and the perspective of reality as described by science. Within this frame of reference, it discusses human self-perception as well as the way we view technology, leading to a proposition to re-assess commonplace conceptions of human exceptionalism and strong human-animal, human-technology distinctions. From there, the thesis proceeds to establish its theoretical foundations in terms of ethics and moral philosophy, by engaging with established ethical theory, moral philosophy and research in moral cognition and moral psychology. Based on this discussion, coupled with the foundations described earlier, it arrives at Consequentialism/Utilitarianism as the most suitable theoretical basis for the proposed ethical framework. In an attempt to provide a level meta-ethical playing field for all entities, regardless of material composition or evolutionary background, human, animal, technology or others, it proposes Vector Utilitarianism as a novel, original, consequentialist approach. Following the conceptual introduction, the thesis then proceeds to introduce how Vector Utilitarianism may be made use of and applied in principle and in practice, making use of both a variety of thought experiments and real world case studies. Finally, the thesis provides a summary of the arguments outlined and pleads for a continued effort to bring about a desirable technological future.