Saturday, April 05, 2008

Humanizing Animals: Is it wrong to make intelligent animal slaves?

Setting aside the fact that no one has any idea of how to actually uplift, that is, to dramatically boost the intelligence of animals, would it be moral to do it? How would a dumb animal give its consent to being uplifted? Since no human being gives his or her consent to being born with whatever level of intelligence or health he or she has, why should prior consent be required for uplifting animals? Dvorsky actually thinks that it is more moral to uplift already born animals so that we can ask them before-and-after questions. Perhaps they would recall their pre-sapient state and tell us if it were preferable to the anxieties of self-awareness. But what if uplifted chimps and dolphins told us that self-aware intelligent language using is not all that it's cracked up to be and that they'd rather go back to their state of natural innocence?

(Via Sentient Developments.)


mr. intense said...

"Is it wrong to make intelligent animal slaves?"

Uh, slaves!? Ummm. YEAH! It would be most wrong.

W.M. Bear said...

Suppose we ourselves, as a promising primate species, were originally "uplifted" by...?

W.M. Bear said...

"If a lion could speak, we would not understand him."

--Ludwig Wittgenstein

Where W. is coming from with this apothegm is, I think, the fact that language really is the encoding of a cultural perspective. In a way, then, it makes not sense to speak of communicating with animals on our level simply because their perspective on the world would be so radically different from ours that there wouldn't be any common ground for mutual understanding of any language (theirs or ours).

In this regard, Dolphins and whales seem to have complex languages of their own which, despite decades of study, we have been completely unable to decipher.

So good luck, Dvorsky! (But please remind me never to take an ethics class taught by you.)

intensity said...

Um, maybe we already _are_ the animals uplifted by _the others_...? Recursively yours, Ockbot 4000. But then, who are our slavish masters?

rorschach said...

Sorry, Bear, I just said what you stated, in a sense, just before me.


More scary stuff:
(the Reason magazine article Dvorsky is referencing)


Four things that spook the shit out of me:

1. Existence
2. The presence of suffering
3. Human isolation in the cosmos
4. The high probability of human extinction relatively soon

(with further details and some quite interesting comments, following, again at our dear friend George Dvorsky's site, Sentient Developments)

You know, now I'm starting to get a little worried...

Mr. I / R / Wx9 / Dr. X / et al said...

Uh, by way of explanation of the above first sentence:

Intensity = Mr. Intense

Rorschach = Mr. Intense, and Dr. X, and Wintermuse X9. Hope that clarifys things. We are all one.

Anonymous said...

So here's a question-say we 'uplift' a dog-do we provide for it's toiletry? Imagine being intelligent, and having to do your duty weel, what do we provide any of those animals in terms of potential interaction with the world? That being hands, grasping limbs...hi, Mr. and Ms. dolphin, yeps, you can check out the world, and think about it, but, uh, well, whoops, might be a tad difficult interacting with it.
I personally don't know where I satnd on the uplifting issue, but slaves? No...although we've enslaved animals for thousands of years (and no, I am not a vegetarian.).