Social robotics, elderly care, and human dignity: A recognition-theoretical approach

Arto Laitinen, Marketta Niemelä, Jari Pirhonen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Attitudes towards robots in elderly care are systematically sceptical: a central worry is that a robot caretaker will rob the elderly of their human contacts. Are such worries justified? Will robotics change something relevant concerning the human dignity of elders? Are some specific robots especially dubious, or can robotics, as a generic technology, change the practices of care so that human dignity would be under threat? In this paper, we ask what human dignity entails in elderly care, and what kinds of threats and possibilities social robotics may bring with it. Earlier studies have approached this question, for example, in light of the capability theories of human life, consistent with human dignity. Our starting point are theories of recognition of persons, which have distinguished three main kinds of needs for recognition: the need for respect as a person, the need to feel esteemed as a contributor to the common good, and the need to be loved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWhat Social Robots Can and Should Do
    PublisherIOS Press
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-61499-708-5
    ISBN (Print)978-1-61499-707-8
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
    EventInternational Research Conference Robophilosophy 2016, TRANSOR 2016 - Aarhus, Denmark
    Duration: 17 Oct 201621 Oct 2016

    Publication series

    SeriesFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications
    VolumeVolume 290


    ConferenceInternational Research Conference Robophilosophy 2016, TRANSOR 2016
    Abbreviated titleTRANSOR 2016


    • social robots
    • elderly care
    • human dignity
    • recognition theory


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