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John P. Sullins III


John headshot
John P. Sullins III




Nichols 312 for in person or via Zoom:

Office Hours

Tue: 2:00 pm-4:00 pmand Thursdays by appt.

John P. Sullins, is a full professor of philosophy at Sonoma State University and the director of programming for the Sonoma State University Center for Ethics Law and Society (CELS).  His specializations are: philosophy of technology, philosophical issues of artificial intelligence/robotics, cognitive science, philosophy of science, engineering ethics, and computer ethics.


Dr. Sullin's is involved in industry and government consultation involving ethical practices in technology design. He was the co-author of IEEE Courses on Ethics and AI and Autonomous Systems as well as chairing the committee on Affective Computing for the IEEE “Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being With Autonomous and Intelligent Systems” and co-chairs the IEEE Standards Committee P7008 - Standard for Ethically Driven Nudging for Robotic, Intelligent and Autonomous Systems. He is also the Secretary and Treasurer of the Society for Philosophy and Technology.


Ph.D in Philosophy, Computers and Cognitive Science, Binghamton University, 2002

Dissertation, Beyond Our Biology: a Computational Study of Ethics and Morality

Advisor: Dr. Andrew Light (Director Center for Global Ethics, George Mason University, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress)

MA Philosophy, San José State University,1996

Thesis, Artificial Life: Life-form, Simulation or Simulacrum

B.S. Aeronautical Operations, Minor in Anthropology, San José State University, 1989


Recognition and Awards: 

  • Recipient of the 2011 Herbert A. Simon Award for Outstanding Research in Computing and Philosophy, which was awarded by the International Association for Computers and Philosophy.
  • Finalist for the World Technology Awards for Visionary Research in Ethics    January 2011. Inducted into the World Technology Network by the World Technology Network in association with TIME magazine, Fortune, CNN, Science/AAAS, and Technology Review


Ph.D., Binghamton University (SUNY), 2002.

Academic Interests

His recent research interests are computer ethics and the philosophical implications of technologies such as Robotics, AI and Artificial Life. 


Ethics in AI and Robotics, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophy of Computation, Engineering Ethics, and Computer Ethics 


Philosophy of Science, Cognitive Science, Logic and Critical Thinking



Science, Technology, & Ethics


Selected Publications & Presentations

John has numerous publications on the ethics of autonomous weapons systems, self-driving cars, personal robotics, affective robotics, malware ethics, and the philosophy and ethics of information technologies as well as the design of autonomous ethical agents.  His recent publications have focused on artificial agents and their impact on society as well as the ethical design of successful autonomous information technologies.

Relevant Publications

"Great Philosophical Objections to Artificial Intelligence: The History and Legacy of the AI Wars", By: Eric Dietrich, John P. Sullins, Bram van Heuveln, Chris Fields, Robin Zebrowski, January 2021;

“Robots, Sex, and Love” Ch 9 Pg. 217-243 in Beavers, Anthony, editor. Philosophy: Technology. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Philosophy series. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA/Gale, a Cengage Company, 2017

“Ethics Boards for Research in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: Is it Too Soon to Act?” Chapter 5 in Social Robots: Boundries, Potential, Challenges, edited by Marco Nørskov, Ashgate, 2016

“Deception and Virtue in Robotic and Cyber Warfare,” in The Ethics of Information Warfare, Luciano Floridi and Mariarosaria Taddeo (Eds.), Springer, 2014

 “Roboethics and Telerobotic Weapons Systems,” in Philosophy and Engineering: Reflections on Practice, Principles and Process, Dian P. Michelfelder, Natasha McCarthy, David E. Goldberg (eds.), 2013

“When is a Robot a Moral Agent?” reprinted in, Morality and Moral Controversies: Readings in Moral, Social and Political Philosophy (9th Edition), Steven Scalet (Ed.), Prentice Hall.  November 25, 2012

Telerobotic weapons systems and the ethical conduct of war, APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers, Winter 2009

The Role of Artificial Moral Agency in Technoethics, in Handbook of Research on Technoethics, Rocci Luppicini and Rebecca Adell, editors, Idea Group Inc, 2008

Building The Perfect Companions: The Humane Design of Personal Robotics Technologies, in Designing: from philosophy to ethics, from engineering to architecture, Pieter E. Vermaas, Peter Kroes, Andrew Light, Steven A. Moore, editors, Springer, 2008

When Is a Robot a Moral Agent? International Review of Information Ethics, (2006) 6: December 2006

Ethics and Artificial Life: from modeling to moral agents, Ethics and Information Technology, (2005) 7:139-148