At last I have a few minutes to write... something, that it may be known, especially by my parents, that I live still. This semester is busy beyond belief; the weekend waits before me like a mirage,
during which time, I can only hope, there will be time for those precious comics which read right to left (oh, can't wait to read Rozen Maiden volume 6!). I am, I find, such a jovial and laughloving person that, to fully savor my classes, I must always preserve a delightful moment or two from an anime or a good joke or anecdote in the back of my head to prevent boredom. Last semester it worked marvelously- may this year prove the same!
Not to say my courses were absent amusing moments in their own rights. Of all places, my Biomedical Ethics class has been witness to some big laughs of late. And we are discussing arguments on abortion! Somehow, extraterrestrials keep finding their way into our conundrums on the worth or expendability of children in the womb. Writes one supporter of legal abortion:
In searching for such criteria [for the definition of personhood or what makes one morally human], it is useful to look beyond the set of people with whom we are acquainted, and ask how we would decide whether a totally alien being was a person or not. (For we have no right to assume that genetic humanity is necessary to personhood). Imagine a space traveller who lands on an unknown planet and encounters a race of beings utterly unlike any he has ever seen or heard of. If he wants to behave morally toward these beings, he has to somehow decide whether they are people, and hence have full moral rights, or whether they are the sorts of things which he need not feel guilty about treating as, for example, a source of food.
She goes on to concoct arbitrary criteria to determine whether an individual is morally human. Yes, there would be something wrong about killing other intelligent life (though still not so wrong as killing members of one's own species, whom we must naturally give first priority). However, the writer later "highly advanced, self-aware robots or computers, should such be developed [God forbid]" to her list of the morally human, and I would never accept them. The pure artifice of man or a hypothetical other intelligent race can never rival the works of our Creator has made. Sorry IG-88.
As I noted in class, the introduction of aliens into the argument when we don't even know that other intelligent life exists tends to reduce the sense of humanity's sacredness as a species and his special place in creation. Furthermore, she does not even consider that, supposing there were another race she would consider persons, that fact does not immediately devalue human or alien fetuses. Since writers who like this type of argument always come up with their own criteria for personhood, virtually all of which would exclude those in comas or even the sleeping from the college of persons, if we abstracted from the immediate issue of the morality of abortion, the logical conclusion would not be a clean division into persons and non-persons, but a graduated scale of moral worth. There would be some we could kill in good conscience, some we need merely not kill, and some (ethicists chief among them) so important they'd deserve their own body guards or security detail. If either we or ET desire a sensible standard for the "morally human" (hate that phrase) without loopholes, the best option remains "from conception to natural death".