On the Value and Lack of Values of Artificial Intelligence (9 Pages) 13 January 2019

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“On the Value and Lack of Values of Artificial Intelligence” by Douglas R. McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Presented in Prof. Otfried Höffe’s
12 January 2019


An examination of the claims made on behalf of “artificial intelligence” (AI) that it can and will replace human rationality. Whereas AI has the potential to be beneficial (as the case with any product of autonomous freedom), it also has the potential to be extremely destructive. However, the core thesis of the paper is not simply one of a critique of AI by practical reason but a rejection of the materialistic reductionism on the part of the blind defenders of AI. Already in the 18th Century, Critical Idealism pointed out that there is far more to reason than the “hypothetical” imperatives and “culture” of technical skills. We lose humanity when we overlook the a priori synthetic structures of theoretical and practical reason, the reflecting judgment of “aesthetics,” and “pure” religion.

  1. Special and deep thanks to James R. Cochrane, Emeritus Professor, the University of Cape Town for feedback on the initial draft of this piece. This paper benefited tremendously from the conversation it generated at Prof. Otfried Höffe’s Oberseminar on 12 January 2019. The observations with respect to AI have been more carefully formulated, and, especially at the suggestion of Prof. Höffe, a 9th Thesis has been added on the social and historical nature of reason. It was a genuine privilege to have one’s work engaged by such a talented group of students. []