Re: Extropians and animal rights

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 11 Jan 1999 13:55:00 -0800 (PST)

>> If degrees of rationality define rights possession, maybe
>> we could beat up on some demented people, or use them in
>> experiments... "greater good" and such. Imagine that we
>> have an unbroken chain of primates before us, from tree
>> monkeys to humans with all the missing links, it's like
>> a morph from tree monkey to man with an individual for
>> each step of the way. Which individual would you declare
>> the right to saw off their leg against their will and why?

> I'll try to find the exact Rand quote about humans and rationality and > we can argue from her quote instead of my limited memory.

If you have to search for a quote to tell you what you think, you've already lost the argument. Not that you're wrong, you just lose the game when you admit that you haven't actually deliberated, considered, and understood the point you are trying to make.

I'm as much a fan of Rand as anyone, but there are a few things she got just plain wrong: (1) The human mind is not "tabula rasa" at birth; it is littered with predispositions instilled in us by eons of evolution. (2) Blind chance plays a far greater role in individual success than she admits. (3) There are no bright-line distinctions sufficient to define "force" or "reason"; the difference between the reasoning of a dog and a human is one of degree, not of kind. Likewise, the distinction between tapping a stranger on the shoulder to ask the time and punching him in the nose is one of degree, not kind. (4) Her analysis of homosexuality is laughable, but in fairness she probably would have done a better job if the psychiatric literature of her time had been better. (5) The "objective necessity" of patents and copyrights is, like all arguments claiming necessity, a result of her lack of imagination of the alternatives, combined with her esthetic prejudice toward writers and inventors.

Given (3), I am likely to have more sympathy for the suffering of non-humans than a strict Randian might, and I think it is quite rational to do so. I would be uncomfortable eating primates or cetaceans (though I have probably dined at many restaurants that serve mahi mahi), and I do feel revulsion at the unnecessary torture of higher mammals (I rarely eat meat). I certainly wouldn't codify any of those feelings into law, and I lose no respect for those who don't share my feelings in the matter, but I just can't justify confidently asserting a moral position here.

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
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