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Ritualizing Robots

Pak-Hang Wong, Universität Hamburg, Germany

Robots are (or, will be) increasingly interwoven into the social fabric of our society, as the area and scope of application continue to expand. The introduction of robots to our social life could significantly alter existing human-human interaction (and, relations) as human interacting through and with robots, thereby supplementing or replacing existing human-human interaction with human-robot interaction. Philosophers and roboticists have raised concerns about the supplement and replacement of human with machines in various aspects of our life. Particularly, they have considered the impacts of robots on specific values (e.g. friendship, care, authenticity, etc.), and examined whether the design and use of robots are ethically permissible and/or conducive to the good life. These concerns are essential in our decisions on whether or not to accept the use of robots; and, they are also crucial in informing us what an ethically acceptable design and use of robots is. However, there is one aspect of human-robot interaction that has not received sufficient attention in ethical reflection, namely the bodily dimension of human-robot interaction. The aim of this paper is to make a case for the ethical significance of the bodily dimension of human-robot interaction.