A4 Article in conference proceedings
Hume’s Guillotine Resolved (2020)

Saariluoma, Pertti (2020). Hume’s Guillotine Resolved. In Rauterberg, Matthias (Eds.) C&C 2020 : Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Culture and Computing, Held as Part of the 22nd HCI International Conference, HCII 2020, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 12215. Cham: Springer, 123-132. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-50267-6_10

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Saariluoma, Pertti

Parent publication: C&C 2020 : Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Culture and Computing, Held as Part of the 22nd HCI International Conference, HCII 2020

Parent publication editors: Rauterberg, Matthias

Place and date of conference: Copenhagen, Denmark, 19.-24.7.2020

ISBN: 978-3-030-50266-9

eISBN: 978-3-030-50267-6

Journal or series: Lecture Notes in Computer Science

ISSN: 0302-9743

eISSN: 1611-3349

Publication year: 2020

Number in series: 12215

Pages range: 123-132

Number of pages in the book: 462

Publisher: Springer

Place of Publication: Cham

Publication country: Switzerland

Publication language: English

DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-50267-6_10

Open Access: Publication channel is not openly available


According to Hume’s guillotine, one cannot derive values from facts. Since intelligent systems are fact processors, one can ask how ethical machines can be possible. However, ethics is a real-life process. People analyze actions and situations emotionally and cognitively. Thus they learn rules, such as “this situation feels good/bad.” The cognitive analysis of actions is associated with emotional analysis. The association of action, emotion and cognition can be termed a primary ethical schema. Through an ethical information process in which emotions and cognitions interact in social discourse, primary ethical schemas are refined into ethical norms. Each component of the process is different, but they cooperate to construct an ethical approach to thinking.

Hume’s guillotine mistakenly breaks down primary ethical schemas and juxtaposes emotions and cognitions. There is no ethics without coordinated emotional, cognitive and social analysis. Therefore, his theory can be seen as a pseudo problem.

In the future, ethical processes will involve intelligent systems that can make ethical choices. Weak ethical artificial intelligence (AI) systems can apply given ethical rules to data, while strong ethical AI systems can derive their own rules from data and knowledge about human emotions. Resolving Hume’s guillotine introduces new ways to develop stronger forms of ethical AI.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; system design; ethics; cognition; emotions; social norms

Free keywords: Hume’s guillotine; intelligent system; ethical information processes

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Last updated on 2020-10-07 at 12:58