[ExI] Rights without selves (was: Nolopsism)

Spencer Campbell lacertilian at gmail.com
Thu Feb 11 01:31:52 UTC 2010

JOSHUA JOB <nanite1018 at gmail.com>:
> A fetus (at least in the first 6 or 7 months) cannot be conscious (in the human meaning, not like ants), nor can a brain dead person, this has pretty much been proven. I don't see how anyone can contend that it is not the case. That's why I spoke as if it was fact.

Nevertheless, many people make precisely that contention. It isn't an
entirely sane position, but it does imply one good point: it's pretty
much impossible to draw a precise line between conscious and
not-conscious, as indicated by your 6 or 7 months figure. Two weeks is
a huge margin of error for just about everything short of geology and
astronomy. Sometimes history and biology, depending on how far back
you go.

> The problem is that "we" have to determine how well it is doing it. "We" as in us rational, self-aware entities. Without that, anywhere along the line, I can't see how you can create the idea of a "correct" or a "right" or a "purpose" or a "meaning." You've got to have someone who can actually evaluate things, or else there is no meaning, value, or purpose to anything at all. In other words, you need rational self-aware entities, or there can be no idea of meaning or purpose, and thus no rights. Without assuming selves exist (as we perceive them), I don't see how you can get anywhere. I hope I've made my point more clear (I don't think I expressed my position in this paragraph very clearly before). If I refuse to entertain the thought, it is because the thought cuts itself off at the knees, as far as I can tell, haha.

Yes: this is the best description of your point yet, I think.
Nevertheless I still disagree. To say that judgements made by
rational, self-aware entities are more valid than those made by
mechanistic automatons is entirely arbitrary. I suppose it derives
from the claim that an internal experience of deeming something right
or wrong is somehow important, but that experience is fleeting and
currently inaccessible to all but the mind of origin.

Morality and ethics are methods of categorizing actions in the world.
Nothing more, nothing less. There isn't anything especially conscious
about categorization.


That's right: coin sorting machine. No philosophical argument can
stand up in the face of a coin sorting machine.

I'll write up that Napoleon thing, now. Actually I think it will be
rather short.

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