Re: Interpretations, subjectivity

From: SLP <>
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 05:48:29 -0500

Christopher Maloney :
Ugh, I don't even want to *talk* about zombies. I find the whole
concept patently absurd, and in a way, ethically repugnant. By
that I mean that it seems to me awfully grandiose and anthro-
centric to even presume that some other creature that exhibits
all the traits of consciousness and thoughtfulness, could some-
how not be conscious or thoughtful.

Closing the door on something by saying that it is "ethically repugnant"
is the most outrageous and anti-scientific approach imaginable.
Primitivists once held anesthesia and airplanes as "ethically repugnant"
because they allegedly encroached on territory that God had forbidden to
mankind. Similar mentalities today hold human cloning and germ line
engineering "ethically repugnant" for the same reason, and the political
clout they wield may actually (and tragically) delay implementation of
these important technologies by a few years. I am both surprised and
disappointed that someone on this list would adopt such an anti-science
point of view.

Consider this point. To a savage, anything that moves by its own power
seems "alive" When the first railroads were introduced in Africa in the
19th century, many ignorant natives (lacking an understanding of what
life actually is) actually thought that locomotives were living
creatures. Anyone who sumptuarily declares that a device "that exhibits
all the traits of consciousness and thoughtfulness" must somehow
necessarily be "conscious or thoughtful" runs the risk of committing the
same error as the savage.

Steve Price, MD
Received on Mon Jul 12 1999 - 04:02:54 PDT

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