Re: Extropians and animal rights
Sun, 10 Jan 1999 02:33:13 -0500

Turmadrog, Renegade Balseraph of Technology <> wrote:
> On Sat, 09 Jan 1999, Samael tempted me with this question:
> >The majority of extropians on this list are in favour of perfect human
> >inviolability (ie people never have the right to affect another person
> >without their permission - except in self defence).
> Yes, I'd agree with that.

As would I, of course -- but the Devil is in the details. That is, as David Friedman points out, the tricky part is defining what counts as "to affect another person." Friedman takes (what I believe is) an intuitionistic approach, and suggests that the threshold falls somewhere between shining a flashlight at them and shining a laser beam, but that's an awful lot of room. I'm not an intutionist, although (per Bruce Ackerman's comments in _Social Justice in the Liberal State_) I have a lot of sympathy with *libertarian* intuitionism; my suggestion is to use the Principle of Reciprocity.
> >I'd be interested to hear peoples opinions on the rights of animals. Do you
> >believe that animals have no rights and can be ignored, that animals have a
> >sliding scale of rights based upon their intelligence, or some other system?
> I would say that entities are either persons or property, and that
> the difference is that persons choose to be responsible. I don't
> have any problem with a sliding scale, but it should be an
> individual decision, not imposed from outside. That is, if the
> parent or owner is willing to agree to the demand, a child or
> pet should be able to insist that he, she, or it is *not* eating
> that stuff, but continue to be irresponsible (i.e. not a person,
> legally) in other ways.

I agree with you about how to handle sliding scales, but it doesn't deal with the question of what happens when an animal, child, or adult wants full rights but others don't agree.

John Fast or
ENTJ/1 (or 6)     Finger me for Magic and Geek Codes
"Raise consciousness, not taxes."