The Law Of The Fire

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3 Responses

  1. Samir Chopra says:


    I intend to write a longer reply to your post but for the time being, I’m curious to know whether you read Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 in their entirety, and whether you actually engaged with the arguments advanced in those chapters for considering artificial agents as legal agents for the purposes of contracting and legal agents for the purposes of knowledge attribution. Your failure to address the modest change in doctrine suggested by the contracting problem, especially the careful, incremental, risk-allocation based argument proposed there, suggests to me that you haven’t; your one-paragraph dismissal of the chapter-length knowledge attribution and privacy argument is entirely too glib as well. In the end, you sprinkle red herrings all over the place, suggesting that we are advocating legal personhood as opposed to suggesting that no conceptual barriers stand in its way and that coherent philosophical and legal arguments could be made for it pending the attainment of technical capacities. (For instance, in the quote you provide, you slide from us advocating an agency law approach to advocating legal personhood; we make it clear that we favor legal agency without legal personhood first as an incremental change). It is also clear that you don’t (or choose not to) understand the conditional nature of the claim we make when we say that intentional stance is to be chosen if it results in the best predictive and explanatory position. Read James Grimmelmann’s post; he gets to the heart of the matter when he notes that the complexity of these systems is key. Your example of the fire is silly; you are the one dabbling in in appropriate metaphor here; we always have the physical mode of description available here as the best explanatory device. We note in the book that the intentional stance will become the best strategy when we lose epistemic hegemony over these agents; on other occasions it will be available to us and we can use it to facilitate certain kinds of discourse – as in when we want to treat artificial agents as legal agents.

  2. Samir Chopra says:

    I meant “inappropriate” above.

  3. Jordan J. Paust says:

    Believe it or not, some of this is before the S.Ct. in Kiobel — whether a corporation can have duties (and, I suppose, rights) under international law (treaty-based or customary international law). The answer should be simple for the Justices because some 20 Supreme Court cases have already recognized that a corporaiton or company can have duties or rights under international law! Additionally, cases have recognized that vessels can have duties under international law. See, Nonstate Actor Participation in International Law and the Pretense of Exclusion, 51 Va. J. Int’l L. 977, 978 n.2, 986-92 (2011), available at
    Will each of the Justices actually pay attention to the 20 S.Ct. cases regarding corporate and company duties and rights?