Sara Ruddick’s distinctions between complete sex vis-à-vis good sex are also helpful. A sexbot might well be capable of offering us good sex – a pleasurable experience that might well have additional therapeutic benefits (though this is empirically contested). On the other hand, recall that complete sex requires a mutuality of (real) desire between two autonomous beings: and that this mutuality is conjoined with deontological norms of equality and respect. On this account, loving, as entailing mutual desire, equality, and respect, is thereby a virtue, i.e., a capability that requires practice over time.
(i) Given these conditions, would complete sex with a robot – as lacking genuine consciousness, desire, and emotion – be possible?
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(ii) Presuming your response is “no,” what does this mean for the larger debates surrounding sexbots – for example: as being intrinsically deceptive and thereby disrespectful of human autonomy (Sullins); as being capable of “good sex” – but not complete sex as Ruddick accounts for it; and thereby threatening an “ethical deskilling” – not only of empathy, as Richardson argues, but of loving itself, both of which would seem to be foundational to friendship, long-term intimate relationships, parenting, and other relationships central to good lives of flourishing?