Re: Can't afford to rescue cows

From: Stuart Armstrong (
Date: Wed Apr 16 2008 - 14:42:45 MDT

> Humans have traditionally "enslaved" lower animals, and our
> progress depended on it for thousands of years.

Indeed. But our progress is no longer dependent on it anymore (just as
progress in some very primitive cultures was arguably dependent on
slavery, but not any more).

> The two big large contributors to progress have been (i) Rule
> of Law (ii) Respect for Private Property. These clearly apply
> only to humans. Cows, for example, cannot understand either,
> and they have no private property.

This not an argument for depriving them of all rights - some humans
cannot understand those concept either, and are not treated as chattel
as a consequence. Though their rights are restricted, they are not put
to death... And respect for private property is not as popular
nowadays as it was in its heyday (not to dispute its usefulness, of
course; but the Lockean maximalist position hasn't been tested in
modern society, so we can't really say much about it in practice).

Probably similarly to my focus on avoiding negatives rather than
enhancing positives, I tend to have the philosophy that when there is
some ethical dilemma, one should ere on the side of giving out more
rights, IF the cost of doing so is minute. After a singularity, there
will so much extra resources available, that there will be no need to
raise and kill cows, hence I'd say the case for granting them
protection as semi-sentient beings is very strong.

> This thread started when the need for a line to be drawn was
> realized. I've drawn that line in my previous post, and here I
> defend it. Questions?

I'd draw the line where I've always drawn it: that plausible-sounding
rights should always be granted if their costs are tiny. If the divine
AI is able to guarantee the continued survival of every living being
with some sort of nervous system, and if this continued survival comes
at a trifling cost, I'd extend some protection to slugs!


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