Re: Essence Vital (was)Ahumans

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Thu Jan 20 2000 - 14:07:59 MST

> So, where do you draw the line and for what application of the rules within a
> system? Is the person that you were yesterday "less of a human being" than
> you are today? Where do children fit along the continuum, not to mention
> other species that are significantly related humans? What is the *objective*
> criteria that can be used to lay down the threshold line that says: On this
> side you are not "human" and over on this side you are? I think this issue is
> a lot more complicated than your summary posting would indicate. Hence the
> controversy associated with abortion, animal rights, etc.

I never said it wasn't complicated. I agree, and I think it is so
complicated in fact that there are no objective criteria one can use
to define the point at which one might attach such things as human
rights, or even where one might define such things as sentience or
sapience (another few hundred years of philosophy might start to make
a dent). Was I less of a human being yesterday than I am today?
Yes, absolutely. Where do children fit? I am inclined to think that
there is more valuable information content in a toddler than in, say,
a dog; but that an old ape might have more than a newborn infant.
Similarly, I don't see that there's any bright line of sapience that
separates humans from other primates or cetaceans or even dogs--just
vague matters of degree.

But such complexity and subjectivity is no reason to give up on
making choices and judgments. Humans are very talented at making
judgments, and we should do so. I happen to think that it is a good
idea to grant some basic rights to infants, more to adults, none to
early fetuses, insects, and microbes, and very few to late-term
fetuses and to some non-human animals. Can I point to exact
quantitative reasons for those opinions? No. They are just
judgments, based on some of the things I know either quantitatively
or qualitatively, but I still think they are reasonable judgments.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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