UPL: Moral issues of uplifting

Technotranscendence (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Fri, 3 Dec 1999 07:12:45 -0800

I recommend we all put "UPL" before posts on uplifting to make reading email and the archives easier.

On Thursday, December 02, 1999 7:10 PM Glen Finney Delvieron@aol.com wrote:
> Just my point, Daniel. Is it right to uplift species that can't even
> the most basic outlines of the concept? Would this be coercion, or
> supplemented judgement for an "immature" species? Still thinking about
> one myself.

Not an original point. This came up in the last debate and, if anyone was paying attention, my lead question in this thread was based on this concern. (Of course, I was terse, but that's my nature.)

As for if it would be coercion, we have to ask what exactly is coercion. That's a very big issue and I subscribe to the Randian/Objectivist view -- viz., coercion is basically violation of an individual's rights. Inside that view, the only organisms which possess rights are those with a rational (volitional) mind. (See Rand and Branden's _The Virtue of Selfishness_, which is a very brief book -- about 150 pages -- for more on this.) If you agree with this, then it would appear octopodes have no rights.

In this context, does this mean that we can do as we wish with them? (I'm qualifying with "in this context" because there might be a better view on this issue. I'm just trying to stick in this one since it seems to be the best I know of.) That's another matter all together. Just because something doesn't have rights does not, to me, seem to justify any action to it. E.g., though I don't think cats have rights, I do not think it is right to go around torturing them.

That said, uplifting does not seem to be a form of torture. The goal is not pain or sadistic pleasure. It's not even exploitation -- unless one considers having another intelligent species around a form of exploitation.

What do others on the list think?


Daniel Ust