The Ethics of Robots

Robots can add value to our lives

But can they also detract value from our lives?


Mark Coeckelbergh with robot

This is one central question that researchers of 3TU.Ethics focus on. This question can become relevant in many different domains of our live. Think, for instance, of the use of robots in medicine, or the use of robots in health care. In medicine, robots can achieve a level of precision that is unparalleled… without ever becoming tired. In health care more broadly understood, robots can sometimes ‘replace’ real human beings and become ‘carebots’. Yet, this use of robots can raise all kinds of ethical questions. What about the autonomy and privacy of the persons being ‘cared for’ by the robot. And, indeed, is what the robot does really ‘caring for’ in the way we normally understand this term? Just like the notion of ‘friend’ is being changed through the use of Facebook, the notion of ‘caring’ might change due to the use of robots. Researchers of 3TU.Ethics are working together with various experts in the field, for instance with the Delft Robotics Institute.

Related Scientific publications (selection)


  • Santoni de Sio F. & Di Nucci E. (eds.). Drones and Responsibility: Legal, Philosophical and Socio-technical Perspectives on The Use of Remotely Controlled Weapons.
  • Santoni de Sio, F., Di Nucci, E. (2014). 'Who’s Afraid of Robots? Fear of Automation and the Ideal of Direct Control'. In: Roboethics in Film. Eds. F. Battaglia F & N. Weidenfeld. Pisa: Pisa University Press.


  • Wynsberghe (2012). Designing Robots With Care: creating an ethical framework for the future design and implementation of care robots. PhD dissertation Twente University available online


  • Coeckelbergh, Mark. 2010. 'Robot Rights? Towards a Social-Relational Justification of Moral Consideration'. Ethics and Information Technology 12(3): 209-221 available online
  • Coeckelbergh, Mark. 2010. 'You, Robot: On the Linguistic Construction of Artificial Others' in: AI & Society (on-line 10 August 2010) available online


  • Coeckelbergh, M. 2009. 'Personal Robots, Appearance, and Human Good: A Methodological Reflection on Roboethics' in: International Journal of Social Robotics 1(3): 217-221 available online

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