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Moral Reasoning Systems


Automated reasoning is a branch of artificial intelligence dedicated to understanding different aspects of reasoning; moral reasoning is reasoning concerned with morality. Automated moral reasoning is a research topic pertaining to the understanding of and the modeling and simulation of moral reasoning.

Moral Reasoning Systems and Education

Five varieties of moral reasoning systems with educational applications to consider are indicated.

Firstly, there is a variety of moral reasoning system with console-based or text-based user interfaces, a variety which possibly makes use of custom programming languages. This variety requires some specialized expertise to use, resembling, perhaps, computer algebra systems, automated theorem provers and proof assistants.

Secondly, there is a variety of moral reasoning system which interoperates with software applications requiring less specialized expertise to use, software where the users needn’t be computer programmers. Examples include decision support systems, software which support individual or organizational decision-making activities.

Thirdly, there is a variety of moral reasoning system with natural language and multimodal user interfaces. This variety includes dialog systems, virtual humans, intelligent personal assistants and intelligent tutoring systems. This variety can conveniently answer, discuss and advise larger numbers of users with regard to questions that they might ask, including in educational contexts.

Fourthly, there is a variety of moral reasoning system which interoperates with the processing and generation of stories, fables, parables or exemplums. This variety can be of use in processing the moral messages of literary texts and generating literary texts which teach moral messages.

Fifthly, there is a variety of moral reasoning system which interoperates with interactive digital entertainment, serious games, simulations and learning environments. This variety interoperates with virtual interactive storytellers, virtual directors, drama managers, experience managers and other educational narrative technologies.

Comparative Moral Reasoning

We can consider that moral reasoning systems could load “configuration and data” before providing outputs for inputs or questions. Such configuration and data include: axiomatic systems, philosophies, schools of thought, principles, beliefs, values, models of characters, self-models or role models, and generic models of cultural stereotypes. How system outputs vary based upon variations of loaded configuration and data is interesting.

We can envision systems which can simulate moral reasoning per the stages of moral development from models, for instance Kohlberg’s. We can envision systems which can simulate moral reasoning per multiple belief systems, philosophies or schools of thought. We can envision systems which can compare reasoning from across various configurations or loaded data, across various philosophies or schools of thought, and can provide explanation and argumentation as components of system output.

Automated Moral Reasoning and Planning

Automated planning and scheduling is a branch of artificial intelligence concerned with the realization of strategies or action sequences. Planning algorithms are often instrumental to generating the behavior of intelligent systems and robotics.

Machine ethics, or computational ethics, is a part of the ethics of artificial intelligence concerned with the moral behavior of artificially intelligent systems. Moral reasoning components should be interoperable with planning and scheduling components.

Uses of planning are much broader than robotics. Uses of planning extend into every sector, into industry, academia, science, military and government, and into public policy. Combinations of planners and moral reasoning can provide societal benefits transcending robotics and machine ethics.


Moral reasoning systems can provide broad societal benefits including computer-aided moral reasoning, computer-aided authoring of literature, new tools for philosophy, law, social sciences, the digital humanities, new decision support and public policy technologies, and new tools for education.



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