Artificial intelligence (AI) systems (autonomous vehicles, autonomous decision support systems, autonomous humanoid robots etc.) are required to make ethical decisions and it is strong feature of the AI systems that they expect goals to be provided and then they themselves deduce the action plans from the difference between the current state of the world and the expected state (goal) of the world. Of course, AI systems can assure that their actions comply with the ethics and/or Commandments and properties of subjects (Beatitudes), but generally they require the ultimate goals to be known (AI systems can deduce subgoals autonomously as well)

AI defines the goal as the set of properties that the expected state of the world should have/obey.

This is in stark contrast with the ethics and the religions which make statements about actions and which formulate the Commandments (properties about actions) and the Beatitudes (properties about subjects).

What are good works, research trends and researchers in philosophical ethics and Christian (especially Roman Catholic) ethics that are considering the following questions:

  • What are the goals of the people and the goals of the world in this world (yes, exactly in this world) according to the (Western, Christian, Catholic) ethical systems? Of course, I am not expecting the exhaustive list of those goals, but I would be happy to know the philosophers, important works and research trends that consider exactly the goals as the object of their research in ethics.
  • If there is little research regarding the goals, what kind of reasoning we can make to deduce goals (for feeding them into AI systems) from the list of desirable ethical actions or the list of the desirable properties of the subjects?

It is true, that Christianity has reconsidered the role of Commandments, but generally Christianity has two Great Commandments of Love from which the more specific ethical actions can be derived.

I am strong supporter of formal mehtods in philosophy, therefore answers that refer to the logical and mathematical methods are especially welcome.

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    I am not sure Christians should value commadments after Jesus' comments on them. Maybe you should better ask about Judaist approach.
    – rus9384
    Oct 7, 2018 at 13:05
  • Thanks, I updated the question to clarify it.
    – TomR
    Oct 7, 2018 at 13:16
  • I still don't understand what New Jerusalem forgot here. Why Jerusalem? We know Jesus predicted fall of Jerusalem. Maybe it even was self-fulfilling prophecy. So, what Christianity has to do with Jerusalem? Do you use the term for a metaphore? Also, the question is quife broad, I'd say too broad, as it asks both for Christian/Western (which are not the same) ethics for an ordinary person and for AI ethics.
    – rus9384
    Oct 7, 2018 at 13:52
  • @Gordon I would like to see any reference. Beyond conspiracy theories, of course. Demilitarisation will take long, of course. But I am not sure that military use of AI is one of the most well funded applications.
    – rus9384
    Oct 7, 2018 at 13:59
  • @Gordon by AI I am thinking not only replicating the commonsense reasoning by ordinary people or the scientific reasoning by the most sophisticated philosophers, but by AI I am also thinking about A(General)Intelligence, super-human, singlar intelligence, that can be way more ethical than humans are. I am not fan of machine learning that just learns AI, there are other methods to create superintelligence and it can be benevolent.
    – TomR
    Oct 7, 2018 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


I am not addressing the AI part of your question in my answer. My purpose is to provide some background that you may find interesting.

I think under Roman Catholicism, and almost all Christian groups, the hope is not of this world. One major work here would be Jacques Maritain's "Integral Humanism". The word "integral" is used in the sense of Christian Europe in the Middle Ages, where Christianity was fully integrated into society. This book can be found in French on Internet Archive; good libraries will have an English translation. https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.189452/page/n1

Most all Christians, including the Roman Catholics, see the transcendent, other worldly end as the only absolute end. Maritain wants us to make our world a better place, but he is clear that the ultimate goal is not in this world. No true New Jerusalem on this earth.

Now the philosopher Jose Porfirio Miranda, book: "Marx and the Bible", does seem to make a case for the New Jerusalem in this world. Don't be put off by the title, the book is very good. Really he uses Bultmann and ends with Ernst Bloch, who was of Jewish birth. This book is at a very high level of scholarship.

Ernst Bloch is well worth studying. He used Goethe's Faust to essentially make the Jewish case. Technically, Bloch was a Marxist, but he was a strange bird, and he is difficult to categorize. Key concept: the "not yet". Waiting for the Messiah, and a true New Jerusalem right here on this earth. His book, "Philosophy of the Future", is on Internet Archive, but be forewarned, Bloch is not easy to understand. https://archive.org/details/philosophyoffutu00bloc/page/n9 This is by no means his only book.

But if you are interested in Roman Catholicism, then I highly recommend "Integral Humanism" by Maritain. Of course, Maritain knew nothing of AI. Finally, Orthodoxy, Russian Orthodoxy, Nicholas Berdyaev, this is an excellent book on Berdyaev. "Nicholas Berdyeav and the New Middle Ages" by Evgueny Lampert. I think there may be a copy on Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/nicolasberdyaeva00lampuoft/page/n1

All of these men were philosophers.

One point of key importance in your question. The object in philosophy is beginning to fade in importance due to technology and to scientific discoveries. The object is almost conquered (as possibilities to be actually achieved).

Hence, the Subject becomes all the more important, and this brings us to the importance of religion, ethics, philosophical anthropology and so on. Also, if we can make ourselves essentially eternal, or we have a very long life, then why the concept of heaven? The New (earthly) Jerusalem becomes at least a possibility, and not just a supernatural possibility. This depends on us and whether we are prepared for these possibilities and responsibilities.

See, the later works of Konrad Lorenz for his warnings.

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    Of course, I am aware that Catholics have transcendent goals, but one should take into account the ongoing work on indefinite life extension/rejuvenation and eternal living in the physical world (see sens.org/research/introduction-to-sens-research/… and all the Nature-Science-level research on expression of Yamanaka factors and induced pluripotent stem cells) and it may be possible that Catholic Church will need to update its teaching one day because of the eradication of death.
    – TomR
    Oct 7, 2018 at 15:31
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    Yes. This idea of life extension is precisely what Bloch adds to the discussion, and this actually can be sourced in Hegel. And further back than Hegel. Keep in mind, though Aquinas starts with the sensible, he ends with Metphysics which reaches a point where the object almost disappears into pure refined abstraction. At this level, all objects become possibility. To see a classic quote by E. Bloch, check the end of Miranda's book. Don't neglect Bloch's Philosophy of the future either.
    – Gordon
    Oct 7, 2018 at 15:49
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    Also, of all the books, you may wish to start on Lampert on Berdyaev. God manhood from Solovyov is the concept. The Russians are refreshing to read because they don't beat around the bush, whereas the Catholics have to walk a fine line. Maritain could rarely really express himself except in his late Peasant of Garonne book, and many people misunderstood his book. For Maritain and Berdyaev, Return to Middle Ages would be an advance and not a backward movement.
    – Gordon
    Oct 7, 2018 at 15:58
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    When I say return to Middle Ages I don't mean Middle Age technology. I mean Christian Integralism.
    – Gordon
    Oct 7, 2018 at 16:03
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    Vladimir Solovyov: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Solovyov_(philosopher)
    – Gordon
    Oct 7, 2018 at 16:18

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