Re: sentient rights (was RE: Battleground God)

Date: Wed Feb 20 2002 - 19:27:58 MST

This issue was also addressed in Richard Dawkin's criticism of Humanist Manifesto 2000, which he characterized as speciesist because it specifically mentioned only Homo sapiens as having rights, and pointed out that if any Homo erectus showed up, they wouldn't be distinguished from termites, ethically. If I remember correctly, he suggested that ethical consideration should be based upon qualities, not species, and on a sliding scale. Since evolution did not have sharp boundaries and perceptible break points, Dawkins saw no reason why we should impose such distinctions in our dealings with other species. This doesn't put dogs and cats on the same level as humans, but it does require that we consider their welfare to some extent. But not as much as we would dolphins and chimps. On the other hand, I don't think Dawkins speculated about where Homos sapiens would stand after the advent of a more "advanced" being. Since characteristics that merit ethical consideration, such as self !
awareness and moral capacity, are already present in man, could any other creature merit even more ethical consideration? I am not sure these qualities are related strictly to intelligence, or would increase as intelligence does.


Pat Inniss

Emlyn wrote:
> Anders wrote:
> Overall, an enjoyable little website. There should really be
> more sites
> like this for other questions (right now I'm reading a book about the
> animal rights movement, and it has some interesting examples of how
> tricky the issue of deciding what beings have rights and on what basis
> is; it would probably make a good "battleground ethics" setup).

How bizzarre... I am reading "Animal Liberation" by Peter Singer at the moment. Same issues. Same book?

I think that the ethical questions raised have are very strong in the
context of transhumanism, moreso than other philosophies, in that we support morphological freedom, and thus must regard where we are now (human) as t(i) (where i is some positive integer) in an iterative process. This implies far less weight given to current qualities of humanity in determining who is covered by concepts such as the Principle of Equality... any criteria based on current human abilities must look entirely arbitrary. Thus with respect
to beings with below human levels of intelligence, which are otherwise
rather similar to us (eg: mammals), it is difficult to see where lines could rightly be drawn to grant us rights but deny the same to them. After all, in a context where we are talking about becoming SIs, etc, the difference between a human and, say, a dog, is negligable.



Confidentiality: The contents of this email are confidential and are
intended only for the named recipient. If the reader of this e-mail is not
the intended recipient you are hereby notified that any use, reproduction,
disclosure or distribution of the information contained in the e-mail is
prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please reply to us
immediately and delete the document.
Viruses: Any loss/damage incurred by using this material is not the sender's
responsibility. Our entire liability will be limited to resupplying the
material. No warranty is made that this material is free from computer virus
or other defect.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:40 MST