Philosophy and ethics of AI


About this course

This course introduces philosophical and ethical issues in artificial intelligence, and provides basic training in philosophical analysis and ethical evaluation.

Theoretical issues in artificial intelligence center on past and present concepts of ‘intelligence’ and their application to different kinds of computing systems. These issues concern the possibility that computing systems such as symbol systems, neural networks, and robots might actually be capable of thinking, understanding, choosing, creating, and experiencing as opposed to merely pretending to do so. Moreover, they address the nature of artificial intelligence and its similarities and differences to human and animal intelligence. Finally, these issues concern the question of how, if at all, we might be able to determine that a computing system actually has a mind of its own.

Ethical issues concern the use of deontological, consequentialist, and virtue ethical approaches to evaluating the development and use of artificial intelligence. These approaches are used to determine whether digital technologies pose a threat to transparent and fair decision-making, and whether they undermine human privacy, autonomy, and moral responsibility. Moreover, these approaches are considered to evaluate the possibility of “AI for good”, in which computing systems are used to address societal challenges such as safety, environmental destruction, and social inequality. Finally, it will be determined whether AI systems might eventually be given rights and responsibilities of their own, and thus, which place these systems should assume in the society of the future.

Students will be expected to read and discuss classic and contemporary philosophical texts, to identify and evaluate relevant philosophical arguments, and to apply these arguments to current digital technologies. They will also be expected to identify ethical problems that arise in the development and use of these technologies, and to propose and evaluate possible solutions.

Learning outcomes

After taking this course students should be able to:

  • Identify and evaluate philosophical arguments about the nature and possibility of artificial intelligence, and apply them to current digital technologies.
  • Understand basic ethical theories, and use them to critically reflect on the development and use of artificial intelligence in contemporary societal contexts.
  • Read and critically engage with relevant philosophical texts.

Required prior knowledge

You must meet one of the following collections of requirements

  • Collection 1
  • Completed Final examination Bsc program
  • Collection 2
  • Completed Pre-Master

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of TU Eindhoven.


  • Start date

    11 November 2024

    • Ends
      19 January 2025
    • Term *
      Block GS2
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      15 Jun, 00:00 - 13 Oct 2024
    Enrolment starts in one day
These offerings are valid for students of Wageningen University