CREATED ON 12th September 2016
COMPLETED ON 12th September 2016
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Robots, Labor, and the Human— With Folded Hands and RUR

Paper 2 In paper 2 discuss how “human” and “non-human” are represented in Karel Čapek’s RUR or Jack Williamson’s With Folded Hands. How are humans and non-humans defined in the text and how does that result in the tragic outcome of the play or novella? In Chapter Two of Humanity’s End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement (2010), philosopher Nicholas Agar writes: The obvious starting point for an investigation of whether radical enhancement is compatible with our humanity would be a definition of the concept “human.” The bad news is that there is no consensus on what it means to be human. Throughout history humanity has attributed, or denied, to serve ideological or political purposes. Humans have a predictable and depressing tendency to call “human” those we want to treat well and to deny the humanity of those we want to kill or enslave. It would be quite impossible to reconcile the many different things people have meant when they invoke humanity. (19) Prompt Using this selection from Agar’s text you might analyze how a character from Čapek’s play underestimated the robots, because they were more interested in industrial success. Or you use this section of the text and discuss how Williamson overturns the idea that robots serve humans to a human’s best interests.
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