Ethics and Uncertainty: An Info-Gap Approach

Location: הסמינר יועבר באמצעות זום :
Lecturer: פרופ' יעקב בן חיים
2:30 pm

Consider these questions:
 You are designing a device that can result in vast destruction in an aggressive adversarial country, but you are unsure whether that destruction will be military or civilian. However, without this device, the adversary can inflict vast destruction on your country. Should you proceed?
 You are developing a technology whose long-range environmental impact is unknown, but may be either severely detrimental or tremendously beneficial. Only time will tell. Should you proceed?
Kant’s deontological ethics posits universal moral commands that must be strictly observed. In choosing between alternative actions one must choose that which most closely adheres to these moral commands. In other words, Kant’s deontology requires one to optimize the fidelity to specified moral requirements. However, info-gap theory demonstrates that this optimization will have negligible robustness against uncertainty. In other words, Kantian deontology is not reliable for insuring ethical behavior when facing deep uncertainty. We demonstrate an alternative approach, based on satisficing the degree of fidelity to the moral commands, and maximizing the robustness to uncertainty. We show that decisions based on this robust-satisficing approach may or may not agree with decisions based on Kantian deontology.
Selected publications:
 Yakov Ben-Haim, 2006, Info-Gap Decision Theory: Decisions Under Severe Uncertainty, 2nd edition, Academic Press, London.
 Yakov Ben-Haim, 2018, Dilemmas of Wonderland: Decisions in the Age of Innovation, Oxford University Press.
 Yakov Ben-Haim, 2021, Robust-satisficing ethics in intelligence, working paper.
Additional information:

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