Arzu Formánek, BSc in Mathematics, MA in Philosophy

Arzu Formánek, BSc in Mathematics, MA in Philosophy

Præ Doc

Arzu Formánek

Department of Philosophy
University of Vienna
Universitätsstraße 7 (NIG)
1010 Vienna

Room: C 0317 (NIG)
Phone: +43-1-4277-46072



Areas of Specialization

Philosophy of Technology | Human-Machine Interaction | Robot Ethics | Ethics of AI | Cognitive Science | Social Interaction and Cognition | Automation and Industrial Design | Consciousness and Self | Process Ontology.



Does it matter how we humans treat social robots and if so why does it matter? In the current literature, there are arguments for and against the direct and indirect moral status of robots. Here indirectness indicates that robots are not moral patients per se, thus, we don’t morally owe them anything for their own sake; rather, because of what we owe to ourselves and to other direct moral patients (humans, animals, environment etc), actions towards robots become morally relevant.

I don’t think that robots (which are developed based on the current paradigm of robotics and AI) can have a direct moral status—not in any substantial way. Rather, I argue that there are certain sufficient reasons for social robots to be given an indirect moral standing. That is, it matters to us how we treat robots, although it doesn’t and cannot matter to robots. And I derive reasons for this indirect status from the nature of our social interactions and social cognition, the way we come-to-be and maintain-to-be social beings and how this mechanism work in our cognition of sociality of robots.

Supervisors: Mark Coeckelbergh, Mark Bickhard

Advisors: Sven Nyholm


Research Networks

Executive Board Member of IACAP-International Association of Computing and Philosophy

Co-Founder & Organizer at Ethics of Technology Early-career Group (ETEG)

Co-Founder & Organizer at Society for Practical Philosophy

Member & Organizer at Research Group: Philosophy of Media and Technology


Past & Upcoming Talks

12.2023 // Philosophy of AI Conference (PhAI 2023): "Is it wrong to kick Kickable 3.0? An affordance based approach to ethics of human-robot interaction". Centre for Philosophy and AI Research, FAU.

08.2023 // MDAC Workshop-Machine Discovery and Creation: "Taking a Photograph, Making a Photograph, Generating a Photograph: an Ecological and Interactivist Approach to Photograph(er) as an Art(ist)". Leibniz University Hannover.

07.2023 // IACAP-International Association of Computing and Philosophy Conference: "Is it wrong to kick Kickable 3.0? An affordance based approach to ethics of human-robot interaction".

10.2022 // ESDIT-Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies Conference: "Problems with the Indirect Moral Patiency of Robots"--received the Best Talk Award in "Ethics of Human-like Robots: rights, moral considerations".

07.2022 // IACAP-International Association of Computing and Philosophy Conference: "Problems with the Indirect Moral Patiency of Robots"

11.2021 // Utrecht University "Robot Rights?!" Workshop: "Basing the Indirect Moral Patienthood of Robots on Sociomorphing". (Invited talk)

07.2021 // The Philosophy and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (CEPE/IACAP 2021): "Ethical Behaviourism: Yet Another Property Based Approach for Machine Moral Status?" (Cancelled).

06.2021 // The Society for Philosophy and Technology Conference (SPT-2021): "Implications of Sociomorphing for the Moral Status of Robots".

02.2021 // R. L. Rabb Symposium on Embedding AI in Society: "The Moral Status of Machines: A Critical Assessment of the Properties Approach and the Behavioral Criterion", NC State University, USA.

11.2019 // SAS19’: The Society of Learning Algorithms: "Human-Machine Interactions: Relation between Emergent Sociality, Moral Recognition and Moral Development", HLRS, Germany.

10.2019 // Graduate Student Philosophy Workshop: "Machine ethics: questions and objectives", Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey.

07.2019 // Third Immanuel Kant International Summer School: "Predictive Processing and Transcendental Idealism", Kaliningrad, Russia.

12.2018 // CIFAR Winter School of Neuroscience of Consciousness: "Intelligence vs Consciousness" (group presentation), Montebello, Canada.

09.2018 // OpenSelf 2018: "Extended Self: Redefining the 'Others', arguing from Dynamical Systems and Free-energy Principle" (poster presentation), Berlin, Germany.



Gokmen, Arzu (2018), 'Institutional Facts and AMAs in Society', Vincent C. Müller (ed.): Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence 2017; SAPERE 44; Berlin: Springer, pp. 248-251.