We can't define a human and don't need to

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Fri, 6 Mar 1998 21:47:16 -0800 (PST)


On Thu, 5 Mar 1998 Reilly Jones <Reilly@compuserve.com> :

>If so-called "rational" extropians cannot discuss the definition of
>human without resorting to vitriol, irrational ethical emotivism and
>kneejerk bigotry, what can we expect from the "irrational" general

Well, it would be nice to have an intelligent conversation on this subject
without hysterics and somebody screaming insults in my face,

>they [Extropians] condone cannibalism

but it doesn't look like that's going to happen today.

>I can't believe that self-proclaimed extropians [...]

Since Extropians are the ones who invented the word it seems to me that they
are perfectly entitles to call themselves Extropian if they want to.

>There is *no* rationality involved in arbitrarily picking a line,
>only different levels of emotional squeamishness.

I agree with that 100% . I think all on this list would agree that a adult
human should be treated with full human rights and that a sperm cell need
not be. The gulf between the two is vast, but that doesn't mean there must be
a sharp line where one suddenly changes into the other, the difference
between night and day is big too but you can't point to a specific second
where things change. Yes, birth is a somewhat arbitrary dividing line, but no
more so than conception. No matter what line you choose things will become
morally ambiguous when you get very close to it, so picking such a spot is an
emotional matter not a logical one. Personally I can get worked up emotionally
over a baby that was just born, but not over one microscopic fertilized cell.
Your mileage may vary.

>A Gallop poll conducted in the spring of 1990 found that 80 percent
>of Americans [believed something or another blah blah blah]

Why should I care what 80% of people on a small part of the globe think or
don't think, do or don't do, like or don't like? I do what I want, if 80% of
my neighbors like it too that's fine, if they don't and want to punish me
then I'll just have to try to make sure they don't find out.

>If we desensitize our population through education and popular
>culture, we can do anything we want.

Great, then let's do it!

>If we can eliminate enough squeamishness, we can deal with the
>minority who remain squeamish. For example, there'll be no more
>messy frog dissections in high school biology. Rather, the
>dissections will be done on computer simulations of humans,
>encouraging the entropic view of them as "meat machines."

There is nothing entropic about the truth; we are meat machines.

>I predict that those who oppose the oncoming world government's [...]

Please tell me you're not one of those "the black helicopters are out to get
me" people.

>forcing abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide "rights" on
>everyone, will in fact, be ghettoized

I confess I have some sympathy with your diastase for late term abortion, I
don't want laws forbidding it but it's not one of my favorite things. On the
other hand, I don't have the smallest particle of sympathy with your views on
euthanasia. You've made some bold statements now it's my turn.

Like nearly all of the really important things in life I have no definition
for the word "evil", however, if the word has any meaning at all then those
who oppose assisted suicide are evil. Making a person live who wants to die
is as horrendous as making a person die who wants to live, both are saying
that my life is not my own and they can decide my fate, it's the moral
equivalent of murder. Such dangerous monsters should not be ghettoized,
they should be guillotined.

>The key is in the concept of development. Development of the self,
>self-ownership, means others should stay hands off.

Then how in the name of all that's holly could you oppose assisted suicide?

>This goes unanswered:
>Are you saying that the possession of intelligence is the source of

Ok, I'll answer it then if nobody else has. Yes.

>And who determines whether ability is there or not, at what
>threshold of ability?

The same person who told you that abortion must be outlawed. The same person
who told you that a baby born without a brain and doomed to die before his
second birthday, or a adult in a deep coma for 20 years has more rights than
a happy healthy chimpanzee.

>This goes unanswered:
>What's wrong with commercializing all life, at all stages of
>development, including humans, intelligent or otherwise, conscious
>or otherwise?


>Just make all life into products in the marketplace, all custom
>designed for any use whatsoever?

If we did that there would be less misery in the world. Child abuse would
drop dramatically, those who love their children would still do so and those
who don't would nevertheless have reason to treat them well because you don't
deliberately damage an asset that has value. The treatment of the sick would
improve because there would be more organs for translation and hope would
increase because of better research.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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