Books  |    |  October 13, 2017

Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications

Book by John Danaher and‎ Neil McArthur.
Published by MIT Press.
328 pages.

Sexbots are coming. Given the pace of technological advances, it is inevitable that realistic robots specifically designed for people’s sexual gratification will be developed in the not-too-distant future. Despite popular culture’s fascination with the topic, and the emergence of the much-publicized Campaign Against Sex Robots, there has been little academic research on the social, philosophical, moral, and legal implications of robot sex. This book fills the gap, offering perspectives from philosophy, psychology, religious studies, economics, and law on the possible future of robot-human sexual relationships.

Contributors discuss what a sex robot is, if they exist, why we should take the issue seriously, and what it means to “have sex” with a robot. They make the case for developing sex robots, arguing for their beneficial nature, and the case against it, on religious and moral grounds; they consider the subject from the robot’s perspective, addressing such issues as consent and agency; and they ask whether it is possible for a human to form a mutually satisfying, loving relationship with a robot. Finally, they speculate about the future of human-robot sexual interaction, considering the social acceptability of sex robots and the possible effect on society.

Table of Contents

I. Introducing Robot Sex

  • Should We Be Thinking about Robot Sex? — John Danaher
  • On the Very Idea of Sex With Robots — Mark Migotti and Nicole Wyatt

II. Defending Sex Robots

  • The Case for Sexbots — Neil McArthur
  • Should We Campaign Against Sex Robots? — John Danaher, Brian Earp, and Anders Sandberg
  • Sex Robots and the Rights of the Disabled — Ezio Di Nucci

III. Challenging Robot Sex

  • Religious Perspectives on Sex with Robots — Noreen Herzfeld
  • The Symbolic-Consequences Argument in the Sex Robot Debate — John Danaher
  • Legal and Moral Implications of Child Sex Robots — Litska Strikwerda

IV. The Robot’s Perspective

  • Is It Good for Them Too? Ethical Concern for the Sexbots — Steve Petersen
  • Was It Good for You Too? The New Natural Law Theory and the Paradoxical Good of Sexbots — Joshua D. Goldstein

V. The Possibility of Robot Love

  • Automatic Sweethearts for Transhumanists — Michael Hauskeller
  • From Sex Robots to Love Robots: Is Mutual Love with a Robot Possible? — Sven Nyholm and Lily Eva Frank

VI. The Future of Robot Sex

  • Intimacy, Bonding, and Sex Robots: Examining Empirical Results and Exploring Ethical Ramifications — Matthias Scheutz and Thomas Arnold
  • Deus Sex Machina: Loving Robot Sex Workers and the Allure of an Insincere Kiss — Julia Carpenter
  • Sexbot-Induced Social Change: An Economic Perspective — Marina Adshade

About the Editors

  • John Danaher is a Lecturer in the Law School at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the author of the popular blog Philosophical Disquisitions.
  • Neil McArthur is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba. He is a regular contributor to VICE and the author of David Hume’s Political Theory.