> From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> I do not believe that a particular position on abortion, for or against,
> should be part of the Extropian political principles.
Being explicitly pro-choice (and for the legalization of drugs, prostitution, euthanasia, abortion and other victimless crimes) sends the right kind of (progressive, rational & open-minded) message, and it's certainly in the spirit of the Extropian principles. Examples like these make it easier for people to understand the Extropian vibe, and show that the philosphy is "socially aware". It might even make the more futuristic issues easier to swallow.
> At 17:15 03/16/99 , Tim Hruby wrote:
> > Many others think the reasonable question is
> >"potential for sentience/intelligence/humanity" (after all, a newborn human
> >is much less sentient than my cat).
> Exactly. Potentially sentient entities should have potential rights,
> real entities-real rights. I could claim that every fertile woman who
> passes by is a potential for carrying my sentient offspring, and she
> would commit a crime if she refuses to do everything possible to bring
> this potentiality into existence.
> Of course, a fetus is less intelligent, sensitive, purposeful, coordinated,
> etc. than a cat or even a frog. It takes a real idiot to go against all
> reason and claim that this blob of flesh that can later turn into a sentient
> human if given proper food and education (*everything* can be turned into
> a sentient human with proper addition of matter and knowledge) is somehow
> "sacred" just because of this fact or because it looks somewhat like a human.
Amen to that.
> But then, of course, a newborn baby is also inferior to a cat, so rationally,
> getting rid of them is ethically no worse than killing a cow - right?
> And then, there are mentally retarded folk who will never turn into anything
> sentient... But that's really different... right?
Yep, here's where even the most fanatical pro-choice people become incapable of rigorous rational thought, and get sentimental. IMO there should be (with regard to legal matters) some kind of official value scale on which an individual is (roughly) measured, with babies and complete retards at the bottom, and the hyperintelligent/ sentient at the top. So basically your rights would grow as you'd develop mentally (which is more or less already the case with things like driver's licences, alcohol & tobacco consumption, voting etc.) Because of the (slight) possibility of recovery, the "braindead" or otherwise comatose should retain their former status.
Of course the system shouldn't be constructed so that the most "sentient" individuals would have a carte blanche for killing the lesser developed, but one should certainly eliminate such things as mothers going to jail for killing their newborn infant, let alone for having an abortion.