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What measure is a non-human, really?

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Feb 16th 2013 at 10:12:15 PM

I was just thinking; if we ever met intelligent aliens, would it be right to count them as people? I mean, OK, so they're smart enough to communicate with us, so what? They're still not human, and thus pretty much the same as any other animal, just smarter. And what is it about intelligence that should automatically give you more rights anyway? What makes humans, human? If it is intelligence, what of babies, kids, and mentally challenged adults?

Also, given the way we humans love to play God and tamper in DNA for shits and giggles, what if one day we managed to genetically engineer an Earth animal to be intelligent? Like, say, pigs. Would we have any obligation to grant smart pigs rights on par with a human? And what of their dumber counterparts? No more bacon? Although, I recon the regular, dumb pigs would be to smart pigs like chimps are to humans, which doesn't really help. A lot of people give certain protections to chimps, and it's argued that they're so similar to humans. But they're also endangered. Would smart pigs have compassion for dumb pigs because of their similarities, or nothing change, since they're so plentiful?

And what would give a robot any rights, regardless of how smart it is? In the end, it is still nothing more than a well programmed machine, even if the hypothetical technology existed to let it feel emotions.

Feb 16th 2013 at 10:13:56 PM

Aw snickerdoodles, I posted this under my generic profile.

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0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 17th 2013 at 12:38:55 AM

Well, I mean, technically they wouldn't be citizens of wherever they end up, so I assume they'd be treated the same as human aliens.

On the other hand, if we suddenly made contact/vice versa, I think the whole world would be too busy collectively going "WTFOMG" to be worrying about anyone's, ahem, inalienable rights.

@Animals: ...that's not even something that I think is physically possible to genetically engineer outside of science fiction. Genetic engineering is, I assume, a much more complex process than the layman would probably guess. IF that were to ever be possible, the Earth would probably be engulfed by the sun by the time the scientists of tomorrow even start trying to do that.

The closest thing I can think of with that, though, is look at how we treat dolphins and gorillas, both extremely intelligent animals that are, IIRC, around on par with humans on average. There's your answer.

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KirigayaKazuto TWO YEARS OF from Saitama
TWO YEARS OF
Feb 17th 2013 at 2:04:11 AM

^^ What's the point of even having that? o_o...

I mean, it's only one number away from your usual one, too...

MMORPGs are serious business.
Michael So that's what this does Relationship Status: Drift compatible
So that's what this does
Feb 17th 2013 at 5:37:58 AM

On this same subject, where is the line between Boldly Coming and bestiality?

Zersk o-o from Columbia District, BNA
o-o
Feb 17th 2013 at 5:41:17 AM

Well that's just mean! D: You'll hurt their feelings. :<

Er, you know if their emotions work that way. Not gonna generalize here.

ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓈᒻᒪᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ
Feb 17th 2013 at 10:02:02 AM

^^ What's the point of even having that? o_o... I mean, it's only one number away from your usual one, too...

I made it back when I forgot my password. I didn't realize I could just ask for my password to be reset, so I made a new acount.

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0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 17th 2013 at 1:56:05 PM

@Michael: It's all bestiality, just one is more accepted for some reason.

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Exelixi Lesbarian from Alchemist's workshop Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Lesbarian
Feb 17th 2013 at 2:43:46 PM

The measure of a sapient species is exactly that of humankind.

My opinion on such is peppered by my (religious) belief in beings that are as intelligent as humans, if not more so, who mostly do their own thing and occasionally play around here. Such things are spoken to kindly, respected, asked for invitation if you're going into their home, and given thanks when helpful. About like people. I think the same treatment should extend to aliens or naturally-occurring terrestrial species that evolve such a capacity for knowledge. As for flat-out "uplifting" animals, science doesn't work that way.

Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 17th 2013 at 10:25:33 PM

[up]

403 Forbidden
nginx/0.7.65
I'm guessing that means it's always verboten.

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Zersk o-o from Columbia District, BNA
o-o
Feb 17th 2013 at 11:21:47 PM

Also it seems kind of mean to treat aliens like they're worth less just cause they're not human beings. :/ Especially if they're sapient and can communicate and think abstractly and all that.

ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓈᒻᒪᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 17th 2013 at 11:26:16 PM

Like I said, they'd probably be treated in the same way as human aliens. By which I mean people will accuse them of takin' our jerbs and hurl slurs against them.

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Zersk o-o from Columbia District, BNA
o-o
Feb 17th 2013 at 11:26:58 PM ᐅᖃᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᓈᒻᒪᔪᐃᑦᑐᖅ
0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 17th 2013 at 11:28:36 PM

Haven't seen it yet unfortunately...but from my limited knowledge of it, basically, yes [lol]

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Zersk o-o from Columbia District, BNA
o-o
Feb 17th 2013 at 11:29:13 PM

Well good, cause neither have I. :p

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0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 17th 2013 at 11:34:03 PM

Oh, Oscar Best Picture winners, no one ever watches you guys!

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Feb 18th 2013 at 7:16:43 AM

All of the reasons we consider human beings deserving of certain rights - our higher reasoning capability, capacity for understanding, empathy and whatnot - would largely apply to intelligent aliens, as well. I would hope that were we ever to encounter another intelligent species, "human rights" would be expanded into "sapient rights."

HeroShepherd from Earth
Feb 18th 2013 at 8:17:10 AM

I don't think of it as a terms of species more of pass or fail on whether or not you have sufficient redeeming qualities. For example R2-D2 "human" the Joker "not human" that's my personal viewpoint anyway.

0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 18th 2013 at 9:32:30 AM

But the Joker has a sense of humor, and, according to Short Circuit, that makes him human.

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Muramasan13 Relationship Status: Not war
Feb 18th 2013 at 6:20:57 PM

I think that "personhood" is an artificial concept that most of us subconsciously redefine to our own ethical convenience. For instance, if you own a pet piglet, you are probably going to think of pigs as "persons", because your relationship with your pet is more emotionally satisfying that way. But if you're eating bacon, then you probably won't subconsciously grant pigs personhood, because in that context to do so would be emotionally distressing and dissonant.

If/when it becomes important to define personhood in a way that is unambiguous, unchanging, and not limited to homo sapiens, lawmakers are going to have a hell of a time.

Smile for me!
Feb 18th 2013 at 9:12:18 PM

The closest thing I can think of with that, though, is look at how we treat dolphins and gorillas, both extremely intelligent animals that are, IIRC, around on par with humans on average. There's your answer.

Ah, but then the argument could be made that we only care about them because of their intelligence or because of their rarity. For some reason, all the smart animals are hard to come by.

As for flat-out "uplifting" animals, science doesn't work that way.

A couple decades ago, they said the same thing about cloning animals.

Also it seems kind of mean to treat aliens like they're worth less just cause they're not human beings. :/ Especially if they're sapient and can communicate and think abstractly and all that.

Then the situation arises of what alien species is sapient. Or if the sapient line gets murkier on other planets. It's a somewhat clear line on Earth as we have sapient and non-sapient, but there's no real reason why several shades of sapience can't evolve on another planet.

I think that "personhood" is an artificial concept that most of us subconsciously redefine to our own ethical convenience. For instance, if you own a pet piglet, you are probably going to think of pigs as "persons", because your relationship with your pet is more emotionally satisfying that way. But if you're eating bacon, then you probably won't subconsciously grant pigs personhood, because in that context to do so would be emotionally distressing and dissonant.

Yeah, this is why I believe animals don't have souls. Any worth any given animal has, only has that value because another human put it on them. Everybody cares about their pet, but nobody cares about the stray that was put down (at least most people don't) or that gazelle that got shot. People who oppose hunting for stupid reasons seem to care about cutesie animals like deer and such, but will still gladly buy butchered cattle at a grocery store.

edited 18th Feb '13 9:13:00 PM by washington213

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0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 18th 2013 at 9:20:31 PM

Ah, but then the argument could be made that we only care about them because of their intelligence or because of their rarity. For some reason, all the smart animals are hard to come by.
I think you misunderstood, I mean that we still treat them like crap as a whole, with the only real "good" treatment being from zoologists and environmentalists, and even then, the zoologists and such keep them in captivity much of the time anyway, which is disgraceful to do in general anyway, taking them from their natural habitats and such. And that's not even getting started on using them in scientific studies which they literally cannot consent to and can be forced into, pollution of their homes (the ocean is the world's dumping ground, and that's very depressing, and the forests...well, there's so few left, and even those are slowly but surely dwindling).

So yes, we do "care" about them, but as a whole, we really don't exactly show it.

People who oppose hunting for stupid reasons seem to care about cutesie animals like deer and such, but will still gladly buy butchered cattle at a grocery store.
That is a very fair point. Something that kind of makes me feel like a hypocrite every time I eat meat. I'd argue that hunting and killing animals is something that other animals do as well...but, then, we don't hunt cattle. (Usually.) We farm them, and often in highly unethical and at times illegal situations and ways.

edited 18th Feb '13 9:23:24 PM by 0dd1

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Feb 18th 2013 at 9:33:06 PM

Eh, wild animals being in their natural habitat is overrated IMO. I mean, yes, there should be enough to sustain their numbers of course, but on a case by case basis, who cares? It's not like the animal, even the smart ones, are smart enough to really miss being in a jungle or an ocean. And what's so great about the wild anyway? There's predators and lack of food in the wild. In a lab, as long as they're humane, they don't have to worry about any of that.

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0dd1 Just awesome like that from Nowhere Land
Just awesome like that
Feb 18th 2013 at 10:01:52 PM

Because it messes with the natural order, and any amount of tampering with the natural order of a habitat can have disastrous consequences for it, no matter how major or minor it seems?

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