University of Twente Student Theses


Embracing love and friendship with robots : An anthropological and philosophical analysis of intimate human-robot relationships

Wang, Alice Yunyun (2022) Embracing love and friendship with robots : An anthropological and philosophical analysis of intimate human-robot relationships.

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Abstract:This thesis presents a philosophical-anthropological study of intimate human-robot relationships. The thesis aims to better understand love and friendship between robots by putting different perspectives together and examining where they differ and what they have in common. Conceptual analysis is chosen as the method to investigate the research question: how can we make sense of the phenomenon of romantic love and friendship in human-robot relationships and is it something we should strive for? I explore the notion of love in human-human relationships and the anthropological-psychological explanations for human-robot relationships, analysing love’s epistemological and moral values, and reasons why humans may develop affective feelings toward robots. I outline the necessary conditions for mutuality to be achieved in intimate human-robot relationships and examine the possibilities of artificial consciousness for robots to achieve mutuality. Anthropomorphism demonstrates humans’ longing for social connection and self-recognition, while the Uncanny Valley and Dehumanisation hypotheses reveal the desire for grasping the notion of the human self. Given love’s uniqueness and its moral and epistemic value, I argue that intimate human-robot relationships authentically exist and should be advocated and encouraged as a tool to cultivate compassion, self-transcendence, and social progress. The love that may occur between humans and robots is non-individualistic and should not be judged but respected. Engaging in loving relationships with robots can help to expand human’s ability to socialise, cultivating compassion and love in more meaningful and ethical ways.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy, 10 humanities in general
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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