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Theoretical Question About Extra Terrestrials

 
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 08:52 am
@failures art,
Quote:
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?


Since there is no Universal Truth, then all of the ethical rules that we live by were made up by humans. Many of our specific ethical rules are deeply influenced by our evolutionary history. Again, since we evolved from primates, it is not surprising that our behavior is similar to social behavior in other primates. If we had evolved from a colonial insect, our ethics would probably be quite different.

As a human being, I observe the Universe from a human perspective. I see it through human eyes (which greatly affects how I perceive it). I have the five human senses-- there are things in the universe I can sense, and there is plenty I can't sense. I understand it with a human brain which is wired a specific way to react to the universe.

Even the idea of "pain" is a human experience that might not apply to an alien species. It is not difficult to imagine an alien that either interprets the electrical signals in our nervous system that we call "pain" differently-- it could have a different meaning (i.e. not cause suffering). Then again it is possible that the alien species might not even have the complex nervous system structures that would make them have pain.

The point being is that I am a human being (more specifically a 21st century American human being) which gives me a very unique and specific set of ethical rules that I use to make judgments. These rules are all I have-- but it would be foolishness for me to believe that an alien race with a completely different evolutionary and social history, would have anything resembling the same ethical rules.

I believe that human life is sacred. Yes, this means that to me, human life is uniquely sacred. Human life is more important and special then any other life in the Universe. I have no reason to believe this-- in fact, the word "sacred" isn't defined meaning that this is a subjective belief that can neither be proven nor disproved. I understand this, but so what... this doesn't impact the fact that this deeply impacts the ethical choices I make.

Based on this, I have no problem with saying that killing cows to produce hamburger that I can eat is ethical. Further, I have no problem saying that killing humans for any reason other then the most extraordinary is unethical. We have strange rules about "special" animals-- dolphins, horses for example-- but I don't think that anyone would choose a dolphin's life over a human being's.

. When the Aliens come to harvest our bodies for food and science, I will be completely comfortable saying that they are evil-- based on my firm belief that human life is uniquely sacred.


rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 09:59 am
@failures art,
failures art wrote:
Would the Aliens be ethically justified in their actions because they are a superior species?

They would be ethically justified not because they are superior but because they are only bound by their own ethics.

We would also be ethically justified in retaliating in any way we could.
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failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 10:47 am
@ebrown p,
That's pretty hypocritical.

You really didn't answer my question. I'm asking you to evaluate actions, not read the minds of Aliens and understand their motives.

I'd agree that if Aliens were to do this to us that it would be "evil," we seem to disagree however on the ownership of human "evil." We have no leg to stand on here. It's none or both.

Since you're being evasive, let me readdress the question. Now we are the alien species arriving on a planet. The planet has a comparable level of society and technology equivalent to the bronze age. They have advanced languages, religions, and music. We have a gross advantage in military terms. No real retaliation they could offer would be effective at all. Would we be justified in taking them by force and doing experiments?

You're working awfully hard to avoid the issue of discussion here. So while you can muse about why alien race could have no/different ethics than ours, it is perfectly reasonable for the purpose of the question, to ask under the assumption that they have a very similar ethical structure to our own.

It seems that you believe animals to be under you, and if an animal showed any dominance over you, you'd call it "evil."

"Humans are the only animals that blush"
~Mark Twain

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Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 10:53 am
I believe that if you think what you're doing is the right thing to do, you are an ethical person.

However, I am an utilitarian when it comes to objective views on an action itself. I'm going to go with a simple no, because both species are intelligent.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:00 am
@failures art,
I am not evading anything. I am making a very simple point (and I don't know how to make it any simpler).

The question of what is Evil is a subjective judgment. What you consider evil depends on who you are. There is no universal view of what's evil-- it is a matter of personal judgment (influenced greatly by the evolutionary history and cultural development).

Quote:
Since you're being evasive, let me readdress the question. Now we are the alien species arriving on a planet. The planet has a comparable level of society and technology equivalent to the bronze age. They have advanced languages, religions, and music. We have a gross advantage in military terms. No real retaliation they could offer would be effective at all. Would we be justified in taking them by force and doing experiments?


Most Humans (at least in my culture) already make a distinction between "special" animals and not special animals. Most Americans accept experiments being done on rats... but most of us also believe that doing experiments on elephants or dolphins is unethical.

There is no reason to believe that humans (at least Americans) would feel it ethical to do experiments on an "advanced" race such as you describe (with language, art and culture). In fact, most of us would feel this race shouldn't be mistreated.

On the other hand, if we found extra-terrestrial animals with the looks, and social development of rabbits, most of us probably wouldn't have a problem with us dissecting them for scientific study.

But the point is that these are subjective judgments that we, as humans, will make based on our needs, evolutionary history and culture.

Quote:

It seems that you believe animals to be under you, and if an animal showed any dominance over you, you'd call it "evil."


This is exactly right. I believe animals to be "under me", and if an animal showed any dominance over me, I would call it "evil". This is based on my belief that human beings are a unique species, and that human life is sacred in a way that no other life form is.

djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:04 am
http://outlandinstitute.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/to-serve-man-cannamite-3.jpg

wait, don't get on the ship, the book "to serve man", it's a cookbook
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 01:12 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

The question of what is Evil is a subjective judgment. What you consider evil depends on who you are. There is no universal view of what's evil-- it is a matter of personal judgment (influenced greatly by the evolutionary history and cultural development).

But you aren't making an argument about "who" you are. You're making an argument about "what" you are. Also, I didn't introduce "evil" into this discussion. You did. So I'm not sure why you want to educate me about what evil is. I've only addressed it, because you brought it up.

ebrown p wrote:

Quote:

It seems that you believe animals to be under you, and if an animal showed any dominance over you, you'd call it "evil."


This is exactly right. I believe animals to be "under me", and if an animal showed any dominance over me, I would call it "evil". This is based on my belief that human beings are a unique species, and that human life is sacred in a way that no other life form is.

Humans ARE animals. Any sort of belief that we're anything else is false. What does "unique species" mean? There is no species on earth that could be called anything but unique.

We aren't entitled, ebrownp. Nature has no special plans for us.

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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:09 pm
@failures art,
Quote:
Humans ARE animals. Any sort of belief that we're anything else is false. What does "unique species" mean? There is no species on earth that could be called anything but unique.

We aren't entitled, ebrownp. Nature has no special plans for us.


You are completely missing the point. I am a human being. I think like a human being. I look at things from the point of view of a human being. As a human being-- I believe that human beings are unique and special and I believe that human life is more important then anything else in the Universe.

I have never said that this has anything to do with "nature", or aliens or anything else in the Universe.

I am merely stating my values and beliefs as a human being. I don't expect any non-human entity (other then dogs) to agree with me, nor do I care.

Human beings tend to look at things from a human perspective. This only makes sense.

failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:29 pm
@ebrown p,
It makes sense, but I'm attempting to broaden the perspective here. I understand why you feel unique and special (I have felt the same). I'm saying that this belief is challenge-able. We do not have to believe this. Not believing it does not make us unethical either.

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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:31 pm
@ebrown p,
Very limiting view, I'd have thought.

0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:11 pm
@failures art,
Quote:
It makes sense, but I'm attempting to broaden the perspective here. I understand why you feel unique and special (I have felt the same). I'm saying that this belief is challenge-able. We do not have to believe this. Not believing it does not make us unethical either.


Are you really claiming that you don't believe that human life is more important then any other life form on earth? Would you even consider trading the life of a human being for the life of a cow, or even a dog or dolphin?

I am sorry, I don't buy it. I would be quite surprised if you, as a human being, didn't hold human life as more important then any other animal. It is part of human nature, and even more so a key part of our culture.

There are vegetarians, and I don't have a problem with this as a lifestyle choice....

But anyone who wouldn't support the shooting of a wild animal to save a person is (in my opinion) a lunatic. Likewise anyone who would support shooting a human being to save an animal is crazy.

Does anyone really disagree with this?


Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:18 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

But anyone who wouldn't support the shooting of a wild animal to save a person is (in my opinion) a lunatic. Likewise anyone who would shoot a human being to save an animal is crazy.

Does anyone really disagree with this?


Well put into a certain context is it so crazy?

Some Buddhists would not kill a wild animal to save a person, sure they might try to take other actions to save them both but they wouldn't kill the animal to save the person. Because their out look is that killing the animal is no different than killing the person, so the solution to the problem can not be solved by killing the wild animal, it will only create more problems. You do not believe such things so to you it doesn't sound reasonable, but to them it is perfectly reasonable.

The other is, would you kill a person to save a dog? I can think of a case where this would happen. Police dog. There have been police officers who shot and killed people for attacking their police dogs during chases. It is actually against the law to attack or harm a police dog, they are actually considered police officers and not considered just animals. Yet the reality is, they are nothing different than any other dog. I am sure things could go even further than this given the proper context. It is not that far fetched since humans tend to do crazy things that seem completely irrational but they find ways to rationalize it.
0 Replies
 
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:51 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Quote:
It makes sense, but I'm attempting to broaden the perspective here. I understand why you feel unique and special (I have felt the same). I'm saying that this belief is challenge-able. We do not have to believe this. Not believing it does not make us unethical either.

Are you really claiming that you don't believe that human life is more important then any other life form on earth? Would you even consider trading the life of a human being for the life of a cow, or even a dog or dolphin?

Where does this scenario actually exist ebrownp?

I don't doubt that I'm more likely to save a human life. It is not because I find human's to be superior/important. It would be instinct, but instinct is different than ethics ebrownp, and you know that. Human's have sexual instincts, but we obey our ethics/morals when it comes to mating.

ebrown p wrote:

I am sorry, I don't buy it. I would be quite surprised if you, as a human being, didn't hold human life as more important then any other animal. It is part of human nature, and even more so a key part of our culture.

The instinct to protect your own species is not human nature, it is much larger. We are not the only species that does it. It certainly is a part of our culture, that much I agree with you about.

ebrown p wrote:

There are vegetarians, and I don't have a problem with this as a lifestyle choice....

Thank you?..

ebrown p wrote:

But anyone who wouldn't support the shooting of a wild animal to save a person is (in my opinion) a lunatic. Likewise anyone who would support shooting a human being to save an animal is crazy.

Sure, if the animal puts the person in danger, it seems reasonable. Why are we wandering away from animal testing? Do these animals put humans in danger? Is that why we are testing on them?

ebrown p wrote:

Does anyone really disagree with this?

As I said before, I'm challenging the scope in which we apply ethics. If the best you can offer as to why humans are the most valuable, most important, and most sacred, is that we are humans, then I'm inclined to dismiss the idea that we are any of those things and that we self protect our species only out of biological bias, not any sort of actual solid ethical foundation.

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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 08:54 pm
@failures art,
Quote:
If the best you can offer as to why humans are the most valuable, most important, and most sacred, is that we are humans, then I'm inclined to dismiss the idea that we are any of those things and that we self protect our species only out of biological bias, not any sort of actual solid ethical foundation.


Great then. We agree. There doesn't seem to be anything to argue about now.
0 Replies
 
IceB0x
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 09:02 pm
@failures art,
No testing is ever justifiable. People feel it is because we're superior. Figuratively speaking, aliens may feel it was justified because we're inferior. In the end, testing of another species without that species consent is unethical. Superiority does not give a right to test things; it gives us a false believe that it gives us the right.

Also, @ dyslexia; dolphins have been found to have ethics beyond pure survival instincts. Dolphins are self aware, which gives them the unique ability to feel sadness, happiness, pity, etc. There are cases where wild dolphins have protected people out of pity and compassion.
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 09:25 pm
@IceB0x,
Extinction is preferable to testing without consent?
IceB0x
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 09:34 pm
@Eorl,
Depends on the person's beliefs. I'd prefer the human race to be extinct rather than for us to cause the extinction of many more species.. and to also wrongfully test them.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 09:42 pm
@IceB0x,
Applying human ethics to dolphins might not be a good idea for someone making your argument (other then the fact that there is no such thing as a vegetarian dolphin).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3323070/Killer-dolphins-baffle-marine-experts.html

Quote:
New evidence has been compiled by marine scientists that prove the normally placid dolphin is capable of brutal attacks both on innocent fellow marine mammals and, more disturbingly, on its own kind.

Film taken of gangs of dolphins repeatedly ramming baby porpoises, tossing them in the air and pursuing them to the death has solved a long-term mystery of what causes the death of so many of these harmless mammals - but has left animal experts baffled as to the motive.
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 10:00 pm
I can assure you all that you are far from superior. If you were, you wouldn't need the companionship of my kind.

(This also serves as my bookmark for a fuller answer when I am more rested.)
0 Replies
 
IceB0x
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 10:08 pm
@ebrown p,
Until a person is 100% sure of the reason, it isn't largely arguable.

It's like telling a person who is watching a male lion kill cubs that it is heartless. Fact is, male lions only kill cubs of a lioness so that he can mate with her and raise his own cubs. It doesn't sound so brutal and pointless now, right?

Just as it won't when people gain the insight as to why dolphins feel compelled to do so. Murdering its own kind doesn't mean it's possible to ignore their effort at preserving other life.
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