The Ethics of Humanoid Sex Robots

Authored by: Sven Nyholm

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Sex and Sexuality

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9781138370678
eBook ISBN: 9781003286523
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter starts with a discussion of what sex robots are and could be, distinguishing between humanoid sex robots (designed to look and act like human beings) and non-humanoid sex robots. The chapter then critically discusses two moral objections to humanoid sex robots: first, that they might reinforce negative stereotypes about—and lead to objectifying attitudes toward—human sex partners, particularly women, and, second, that sex with humanoid robots can only represent something morally bad, such as rape or ideas associated with rape culture. The chapter ends with a discussion of whether it is possible to exhibit any sexual virtues, such as temperance or tenderness, in sex that is had not with other human beings, but with humanoid sex robots.

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