More than half a century ago, the philosopher and theorist of aesthetics Paul Ziff claimed that robots were inherently unable to have feelings. Although Ziff's argument elicited objections of various philosophers, it has received little attention in recent years.
The significant developments in contemporary artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics research since Ziff's writing could be argued to have resolved this controversy. However, Ziffs argument is not dependent on a specific technological premise. In addition, other writers have posed similar objections to the notion of robot ethics. Therefore, it may be valuable to reflect on the "The feeling of robots" debate.
In the current article, I first describe the relationship between AI and philosophy at the time of Ziff's writing, and introduce the protagonist of the debate. Second, I discuss the thesis that robots are unable to have feelings, as presented in Ziff's work. Third, I examine J. J. C. Smart' s argument against Ziff' s thesis.