Re: UPL: Moral issues of uplifting
Fri, 3 Dec 1999 12:56:27 EST

In a message dated 99-12-03 07:09:54 EST, Daniel Ust writes:

<< As for if it would be coercion, we have to ask what exactly is coercion.
That's a very big issue and I subscribe to the Randian/Objectivist view -- viz., coercion is basically violation of an individual's rights. Inside that view, the only organisms which possess rights are those with a rational (volitional) mind. (See Rand and Branden's _The Virtue of Selfishness_, which is a very brief book -- about 150 pages -- for more on this.) If you agree with this, then it would appear octopodes have no rights.>>

Depends on whether you think octopodes have no volition. Obviously, they have some as they don't simply engage in preprogrammed behavior. How much do they understand about what they are doing, and how different is their understanding from our own are both important questions to answer. If you say their understanding is quite limited, then you must rely on substituted judgement.

<<In this context, does this mean that we can do as we wish with them? (I'm qualifying with "in this context" because there might be a better view on this issue. I'm just trying to stick in this one since it seems to be the best I know of.) That's another matter all together. Just because something doesn't have rights does not, to me, seem to justify any action to it. E.g., though I don't think cats have rights, I do not think it is right to go around torturing them.>>

I think that things begin to accrue moral rights when they begin to care about things. I am still trying to work out where to draw the line on that. For example, does a trophism count as "caring"; how about a withdrawal reflex? I think that the ability to care about what you care about is the highest form of life. This ability to engage in reflective caring is probably the most important type of caring.

<< That said, uplifting does not seem to be a form of torture. The goal is
pain or sadistic pleasure. It's not even exploitation -- unless one considers having another intelligent species around a form of exploitation.>>

This is true. It would seem to us that uplifting would be an absolute benefit to the species in question. But would that species think so?

Glen Finney