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Encoding ethics to compute value-aligned norms

Serramia Amoros, M. ORCID: 0000-0003-0993-024X, Rodriguez-Soto, M., Lopez-Sanchez, M. , Rodriguez-Aguilar, J. A., Bistaffa, F., Boddington, P., Wooldridge, M. & Ansotegui, C. (2023). Encoding ethics to compute value-aligned norms. Minds and Machines: journal for artificial intelligence, philosophy and cognitive sciences, 33(4), pp. 761-790. doi: 10.1007/s11023-023-09649-7


Norms have been widely enacted in human and agent societies to regulate individuals’ actions. However, although legislators may have ethics in mind when establishing norms, moral values are only sometimes explicitly considered. This paper advances the state of the art by providing a method for selecting the norms to enact within a society that best aligns with the moral values of such a society. Our approach to aligning norms and values is grounded in the ethics literature. Specifically, from the literature’s study of the relations between norms, actions, and values, we formally define how actions and values relate through the so-called value judgment function and how norms and values relate through the so-called norm promotion function. We show that both functions provide the means to compute value alignment for a set of norms. Moreover, we detail how to cast our decision-making problem as an optimisation problem: finding the norms that maximise value alignment. We also show how to solve our problem using off-the-shelf optimisation tools. Finally, we illustrate our approach with a specific case study on the European Value Study.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Ethics and AI, Moral values, Decision support, Norms, Optimisation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
SWORD Depositor:
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