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D2.13: Virtual Persons and Identities

Towards a new legal category: the virtual person?  D2.13 Virtual Persons
 The Model: An Informal Introduction


Conclusions: a virtual person as a new legal category?

For a conclusion we think it makes sense to detect which relevant questions are raised, without as yet providing elaborate or definite answers.  

If we link the discussion of Bourcier’s article on the virtual person as a new legal entity to the legal notions discussed in Section and , the following can be established:

  1. A legal subject has rights and duties in law;

  2. A legal subject can perform legal actions, achieving an intended legal consequence;

  3. A legal subject can incur criminal and/or civil liability for its actions.

In the case that a virtual person of type (b) (autonomic software program) is granted legal personhood, this raises the questions of:

  1. What it means for the virtual person to be obliged or to exercise discretion?

  1. To what extent can one appeal to a sense of obligation in this virtual person? 

  2. Can one expect the virtual person to weigh different alternatives in the case that mechanical rule application is not at stake? 

  1. What it means for a virtual person to intend legal consequence? 

  1. Is the intention derived from the physical person who is represented? 

  2. Must intention be understood in a non-psychological way? 

  1. How can the virtual person compensate damages for which it is liable? 

  1. Does it generate its own income or property? 

  2. Should strict liability apply to a limited amount, guaranteed by the person it represents? 

  1. What does it mean to punish a virtual person? 

  1. Is the virtual person capable of independent desert? 

  2. Is the virtual person capable of learning or only of being disciplined? 

In the case of a virtual person of type (c) (profile) many more questions are raised when this profile is under the control of the physical person represented as it does not seem able to itself negotiate, enter into transactions or cause harm. Granting legal subjectivity seems a bit odd here, but this does not erase the question about the legal status of this virtual person. Also, we may guess that the three types of virtual persons as described by Bourcier are related. Types (b) and (c) are composed of numericals and in that sense they are both also a. For our purpose it is of importance to note that a type (b) virtual person may use a type (c) virtual person in its negotiations, in order to prevent unintended disclosure of the person that is represented.


Towards a new legal category: the virtual person?  fidis-wp2-del2.13_Virtual_Persons_v1.0.sxw  The Model: An Informal Introduction
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