Philosophical Books: Of Trolley Cars and AI

In my firm belief that Legal Informatics needs a firmer footing in legal theory, I thought I would start posting about legal theory. Here are two useful developments. First, F.M. Kamm’s The Trolley Problem is an excellent introduction to what has become an “old saw” of the moral philosopher. The popular thought experiment asks what choices to make among intentional killing and saving lives in contrasting and apparently contradictory situations. Kamm has produced a thorough introduction with his own insightful solution.

Second, Margaret A. Boden’s AI, Its Nature and Future, is an excellent introduction to philosophical issues on Artificial Intelligence. Here’s a sample:

“The applications of Artificial Intelligence lie all around us; in our homes, schools and offices, in our cinemas, in art galleries and – not least – on the Internet. The results of Artificial Intelligence have been invaluable to biologists, psychologists, and linguists in helping to understand the processes of memory, learning, and language from a fresh angle.

As a concept, Artificial Intelligence has fuelled and sharpened the philosophical debates concerning the nature of the mind, intelligence, and the uniqueness of human beings. Margaret A. Boden reviews the philosophical and technological challenges raised by Artificial Intelligence, considering whether programs could ever be really intelligent, creative or even conscious, and shows how the pursuit of Artificial Intelligence has helped us to appreciate how human and animal minds are possible.”


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