Is unplugging a robot from power the same as killing a person? As the commenters said this does not quite work because robots can be plugged back in. So let's replace robots with philosophical zombies, they behave just like humans except for not having consciousness. In particular, once killed they are not coming back. Is killing them the same? In both cases you deactivate them permanently. If it is still not the same, why is harming something with consciousness ethically different from harming something without consciousness?

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    If the two actions were the same, this means that to kill a person amounts to nothing more than switch off the washing machine... and I think it is not so. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 13 '19 at 11:11
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    How do you switch a human back on after he dies? – Jishin Noben Jun 13 '19 at 12:02
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    What does it mean to "hurt" something without feelings? Can you "hurt" a rock? – curiousdannii Jun 13 '19 at 12:02
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    The philosophical question I see here is this: why should ethics only extend to creatures with consciousness? Robots are irrelevant, and only serve as a distraction. I clarified this by rephrasing your post in terms of philosophical zombies. If this is not what you want feel free to roll back the edit, but I am afraid the post was might be closed otherwise. – Conifold Jun 13 '19 at 17:00
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    If you can distinguish a philosophical zombie from a normal human, it isn't a philosophical zombie (which is why the whole concept is incoherent nonsense, but that's another issue). It's generally wrong to kill normal humans. It would probably be wrong to kill something that you have no way of knowing is a human or not. – Ask About Monica Jun 13 '19 at 17:07

That depends on what the problem is with killing people.

  • A Deontologist could argue that the zombies have no inherent duty of care, being entirely imaginary entities, and so declare Open Season without qualm.
  • A Consequentialist could notice that killing philosophical zombies has no effect IRL, and grab a shotgun.
  • A Virtue Ethicist could acknowledge the degradation of character inherent in any killing and so have his philosophical brainz eaten.

And whether the morality is to be judged within the Thought Experiment:

  • A Deontologist should enquire whether there is a way to distinguish the zombies from normies, allowing different duties toward each.
  • A Consequentialist ought consider both killings the same, insofar as the effects of the killing on loved ones, in amount of pain during the process, in GDP,... would be very similar
  • A Virtue Ethicist is even more likely to be food for a Zombie Thought Experiment.

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