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Theoretical Question About Extra Terrestrials

 
 
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 07:26 pm
Let's say that one day and alien race was to discover our planet and begin taking humans and doing testing on us. They are doing testing on us so that the they could cure their diseases, know their detergents are safe, and that they can test erectile dysfunction pills. Many humans die and more are permanently injured.

Would the Aliens be ethically justified in their actions because they are a superior species?

Aliens
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Type: Discussion • Score: 26 • Views: 11,250 • Replies: 172

 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 07:29 pm
@failures art,
I think it would depend on their skin colour.
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ebrown p
 
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Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 07:38 pm
This question implies that ethics exists (other then as a human cultural construct). I am quite dubious of this proposition.

Assuming that these aliens had evolved with any sense of "ethics", the alien ethics would apply (rather then human ethics).

failures art
 
  2  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 07:39 pm
@ebrown p,
Does this work in the other direction? Do other animals have ethics?

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dyslexia
 
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Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 08:09 pm
@failures art,
personally I've never seen any evidence of species specific ethics beyond survival.
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ebrown p
 
  4  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 09:42 pm
@failures art,
Of course... ethics are relative to a specific human cultural context.

Turtles coldly abandon their children in spite of the fact that most of them will die in their first few days. Penguins engage in prostitution. Parents kill weaker children to ensure the survival of the ones they care about. Several types of insects and arachnids eat their mates. Birds rob each others nests and kill each others young. Wasps lay their eggs on host animals knowing their young will eat out their hosts to death.

Shall I go on? All of these things, which are unethical in most human cultures, are completely natural and even necessary in other animal species.

Applying the ethics of a human culture to any non-human species would be silly.
JTT
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 09:53 pm
@ebrown p,
Quote:
Wasps lay their eggs on host animals knowing their young will eat out their hosts to death.


But for some, the degree of ecstasy makes it the only way to go.
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dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 09:56 pm
Males of many species fight when vieing for the right to mate but do not kill the opposing males when they have that chance to do so .
I dont think of this as ethics but it could be construed as such.
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dlowan
 
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Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 10:07 pm
@failures art,
failures art wrote:

Does this work in the other direction? Do other animals have ethics?

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There is a LOT being written (and that has been written) on animal ethics.

They may not be thought out ethical codes, but there are certainly rules of conduct towards one own species.

Konrad Lorenz's "On Aggression" is an early writer on this. His thesis is, basically, that the more weapons an animal has and hence the more its ability to kill a member of its own species, the more likely it is that there will be "rules" about use of said weapons.

Eg...if one wolf in a fight "surrenders" (adopts a specific posture) the victorious wolf is inhibited from killing it, while confined turtle doves kill each other with no apparent inhibition.

Of course, you can argue that this has developed via evolutionary pressure...but so have many of our ethics, I say.

I just tried googling for you...but every search term I can find lands at more and more re human ethical obligations towards animals.

I have some books of my own which I will try and hunt up.

failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 10:07 pm
@ebrown p,
I'm sure through the lens of another animal humans do some pretty unethical things as well. Does your animals-do-bad-things argument account for behaviors that we approve of? Perhaps you're cherry picking animal behaviors to suit your position. Besides, a species doesn't have to act ethically to understand what ethics are. Take for instance: Humans.

Ethics are human defined only because you say so. If another species of life exists in the cosmos with the ability to form a civilization and study science then fly all the way to earth, you think they can do it without some sort of sense of ethics or morality? Perhaps they would organize them different, but to say that ethics is a solely human thing is purely stupid.

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ebrown p
 
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Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 10:39 pm
@failures art,
Quote:
Ethics are human defined only because you say so. If another species of life exists in the cosmos with the ability to form a civilization and study science then fly all the way to earth, you think they can do it without some sort of sense of ethics or morality? Perhaps they would organize them different, but to say that ethics is a solely human thing is purely stupid.


You are making a hypothetical argument. Of course there is no way to make any arguments about what a extra-terrestrial civilization would be like. We only know what we know; it is quite possible that whatever "ethics" they had would be quite different from our own... and it is even possible that they wouldn't have anything that we would call "ethics". Who knows.

The point is that our propensity for "ethics" evolved from a set of random mutations. The human trait of living by their societies "ethics" were selected because they helped us survive, not because they were any kind of universal truth.

We evolved from primates. Not surprisingly, our ethics are quite reminiscent of behaviors in other social primates-- taking care of our young, empathy for the suffering of others and ideas of fairness are all seen in other primates.

If a sentient intelligence ever evolves from ants-- beings that don't respect the individual to the point they are happy to use their dying comrades as a bridge to meet the goal of the colony... their sense of "ethics" will be quite different.
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 10:45 pm
@failures art,
Quote:
Would the Aliens be ethically justified in their actions because they are a superior species?


We would certainly argue not, but we'd not have much of a leg to stand on, because we have done it ourselves.

In a sense, Macht macht Recht, because it can overpower.
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failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 11:13 pm
@ebrown p,
This is fun and all, but it doesn't answer the question. Let's not get stuck here. Assume for the purpose of this conversation that Aliens do understand ethics (even if theirs are different than ours).

If by human ethics, we can assert ourselves on other species, and be invasive to the environment, can we ethically judge an Alien race for actions identical to our own?

If communication could be bridged with the Aliens what would you tell them?

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ebrown p
 
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Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 11:46 pm
@failures art,
Quote:

If by human ethics, we can assert ourselves on other species, and be invasive to the environment, can we ethically judge an Alien race for actions identical to our own?


Of course we can judge them with our ethics (not that it matters at all to anyone who isn't human).

My belief is that human life is sacred in a way that no other species in the Universe is. This is why I don't give a second thought to eating hamburger even though I know a cow was killed for it while the thought of taking any human life, even as punishment for despicable crimes, is a tragedy.

As a human, I would apply my human ethics in the case of an Alien race. I have no problem with saying that any Alien race that enslaves and kills humans for food or science is evil.

If an Alien race didn't share my view on the importance of human life, then there wouldn't be much I could say to them. I think the standard thing to say in this situation is "Moo Moo".

failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 11:51 pm
@ebrown p,
That sounds like a lot of mental gymnastics to rationalize a special case exemption for a situation that could effect the speaking party's interest negatively. Perhaps a "blind spot" for sake of brevity?

In short: You feel entitled on the universal level.

My reply: You aren't. The universe had nothing special in mind for you that you are so "sacred."

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ebrown p
 
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Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 12:00 am
@failures art,
Quote:

In short: You feel entitled on the universal level.


Quite the contrary. I am arguing that there is no Universal Truth. There are no ethics other then what exists in the human mind as expressed through our culture.

My feeling that human beings are sacred has nothing to do with the Universe. I feel this way for no other reason then because I am human. Don't get me wrong, this is more then an arbitrary decision-- the human species evolved with the trait to care about humans... this trait is also found in other primates (i.e. chimpanzees) but is lacking in many other species.

But this is the point--- the Universe has no ethics-- there is nothing at all in the Universe that cares about human life (except maybe dogs, but human bred them that way). There is nothing in the Universe that cares about fairness, or compassion or any other part of ethics. All of these things exist only in our minds.

That being said-- the fact that ethics are subjective doesn't keep me from making judgement based on who I am.

I am not opposed to hamburgers. I am opposed to alien experimentation on humans. I don't have any Universal truth to back up these opinions (because there is no such thing as Universal truth)--- yet I feel very strongly that aliens that would enslave, eat or experiment on humans are evil.

GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 02:33 am
Man I was excited about this thread by the title. The old bait and switch gets me every time.
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Philis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 02:38 am
It is the desire of all living things to live and not suffer at the same time. This premise would be known by any alien. So it would be un-ethical to experiment on humans. An alien would know us well enough to know humans feel pain.
{And yes I don"t believe in animal testing.}
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failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:48 am
@ebrown p,
This does not require any sort of universal truth. If we can justify doing something to one species, then how can we evaluate another species to be "evil" for doing the same action as us on us?

How can you say that "there are no ethics other then what exists in the human mind as expressed through our culture." That seems so insulating. Why would an Alien race have any reason to believe that humans have ethics? Perhaps they would think that ethics only existed in the minds of their species and culture.

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Khethil
 
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Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 07:07 am
@failures art,
failures art wrote:
Let's say that one day and alien race was to discover our planet and begin taking humans and doing testing on us. They are doing testing on us so that the they could cure their diseases, know their detergents are safe, and that they can test erectile dysfunction pills. Many humans die and more are permanently injured.

Would the Aliens be ethically justified in their actions because they are a superior species?

No.

Notions of one or another species' superiority (whatever that means) has no bearing on whether or not such usery is ethical. The more any creature has the ability to feel pain (depending on the situation) the less ethical infliction becomes. The more a creature is self-aware (depending on the situation) the less ethical any infringements on that "self" are. The more a creature is sentient, self aware and intelligent, the less ethical it is to "use" that being for any purpose not of their own choice.

Thanks
0 Replies
 
 

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