Love(rs) in the making: Moral subjectivity in the face of sexbots

Jan Peter Bergen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


This article offers a novel reading of the criticisms of sex robots put forward by the Campaign Against Sex Robots (CASR). Focusing on the implication of a loss of empathy, it structures CASR's worries as an argument from moral degradation centered around the potential effects on sexbot users' sexual and moral subjectivity. This argument is subsequently explored through the combined lenses of postphenomenology and the ethical phenomenology of Emmanuel Levinas. In so doing, it describes the type of human-technology relations that sexbots invite, identifying alterity as a central feature. It also highlights how alterity, responsibility, and subjectivity are intimately connected. However, that connection is distinctly different in sexual circumstances, making current versions of Levinasian roboethics largely inapplicable for the ethics of sexbots. To overcome this, the article delves into Levinas' phenomenology of Eros and identifies voluptuousness as a type of enjoyment of the Other that is different from the enjoyment invited by current sexbots and is compatible with responsibility. Based on this, the article provides examples of how this phenomenology of Eros can inspire the design of future sexbots in ways that alleviate some of CASR's concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-300
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • design
  • Eros
  • ethics
  • Levinas
  • postphenomenology
  • sex robots
  • subjectivity
  • UT-Gold-D


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