A fictional dualism model of social robots

Paula Sweeney* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper I propose a Fictional Dualism model of social robots. I show that those who point to our emotional attachment to social robots in order to argue in favour of extending rights to them rely on an assumption that has neither been made explicit nor defended. They assume that our emotional attachment to social robots has moral significance. The assumption has drawn background support from an analogy between
social robots and domesticated animals. I present an alternative model of social robots, the metaphysical model of Fictional Dualism. This model provides us with an explanation of our emotional attachment to social robots, whilst also clarifying the significance of that attachment. The positive framework of Fictional Dualism provides us with an understanding of what social robots are and with a plausible basis for our relationships with them as we bring them further into society. Finally, I note that the granting of rights to social robots would significantly reduce their usefulness and, as such, should not be undertaken unnecessarily.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Early online date8 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2021


  • Social robots
  • Fictional dualism model
  • Empathy for social robots
  • Rights for social robots
  • Social robots and society
  • Social robots and fiction

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