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Machines and the face of ethics

Machines and the face of ethics – Niklas Toivakainen
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Abstract: In this article I try to show in what sense Emmanuel Levinas’ ‘ethics as first philosophy’ moves our ethical thinking away from what has been called ‘centrist ethics’. Proceeding via depictions of the structure of Levinasian ethics and including references to examples as well as to some empirical research, I try to argue that human beings always already find themselves within an ethical universe, a space of meaning. Critically engaging with the writings of David Gunkel and Lucas Introna, I try to argue that these thinkers, rather than clarifying, distort our ethical understanding of how we stand in relation to artefacts. Drawing a distinction between how pervasive our ethical relationship to other human beings, and living animals, is and how the nature of artefacts is tied to us, I conclude by indicating that the aspiration to give artefacts an ethical face suggests a fantasy to avoid ethical responsibility and generates what I call a ‘compensatory logic’.