Love, sex and robots: a philosophical investigation
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HP153
Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
What is the course about?
A ‘sexbot’ is a life-like robot designed and manufactured with the explicit purpose of providing sexual gratification to their users. Sexbots might sound like science fiction, but in fact crude and relatively unsophisticated sexbots already exist and are available on the market. How, then, should we feel about this emerging technology? Will the development of sex robots lead to a happier, healthier world in which more of our sexual needs are met? Or will sex robots undermine our human relationships by perpetuating troubling attitudes toward women, minorities, and consent? This course is for anyone who is interested in the future of sex and the ethical and social implications of advances in AI.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
Will explore the following questions and more:
- What would it mean to have sex with a robot?
- Do people have a right to sex robots?
- Will sexbots strengthen or weaken human sexual relationships?
- Will sexbots benefit or harm their users?
- Should we campaign against the development of sex robots?
- How could we regulate the manufacture of sex robots?
- Should we have ethical concern for the sexbots themselves?
- Is it possible to have a genuine romantic relationship with a robot?
- What will a future with sex robots look like?
We will use Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications (ed. John Danaher & Neil McArthur, 2017) as a course textbook. The book contains six parts, and we will cover one part each week.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Identify the major arguments for and against the development of sexbots
- Robustly defend your own view on sexbots and critically engage with the views of others
- Transfer the skills and ideas learnt here to other areas of philosophy and sexual ethics.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for all levels, including those who have never studied philosophy before. We will be covering some sensitive material, so the ability to listen and speak thoughtfully without prejudice is essential.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Reading will be set for each class from the course textbook. The reading is not compulsory, but students are likely to get more out of the course if they complete the reading each week. Classes will take the form of facilitated discussions. The first half will typically involve an interactive lecture covering the main themes and ideas from the reading and then the second half will open up the topic to a class discussion.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will find it helpful if you can purchase your own copy of Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications (ed. John Danaher & Neil McArthur, 2017). It’s also a good idea to bring a pen and notepad to each class so that you can jot down your thoughts.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Please see City Lit's website for full listing of philosophy courses.
Oliver holds a postgraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Oxford. Since graduating, he has taught a wide variety of courses to a broad range of students, from adults and children exploring the subject for the first time through to advanced undergraduates. His main areas of interest are the Philosophy of Mathematics, Metaphysics, the Philosophy of Language, and Logic. Recently, his research has focussed on developing medieval approaches to semantic paradoxes using modern mathematical methods. When Oliver’s not teaching or writing up papers, he’s either lost in a good book or somewhere deep in the English countryside.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.