Vulnerable Bodies in Human-Robot Interactions: Embodiment as Ethical Issue in Robot Care for the Elderly

Jaana Parviainen, Jari Pirhonen
The aim of this paper is to investigate the notion of embodiment in robot technologies for eldercare, drawing on the phenomenology of the body and discussions of practical nursing ethics. Reaching beyond dualistic discourse on aging bodies, we aim to develop a new ethical framework in which lived bodies and embodied care practices play a dominant role in interpreting moral values of human care. Developing further the notion of "materialising morality", we approach robotcare as an embodied care
more » ... ractice that takes place in the "triangle" between caregivers, care receivers and robotics. Taking seriously the idea that touching is crucial for the wellbeing of elderly people, this paper comes to the conclusion that robots can take care of elderly patients, but they can't care about them. Robots are not replacements for caregivers, but they might be designed to help caregivers and clients find more profound embodied interactions.