There was actually more behind me buying the New Scientist today than I had realised at first.
Indeed the main article could bring anyone’s moral world into troublesome waters.
Split out as separate essays the different authors simply ask the question “What if…?” – usually they are not so clear on their simplicity.
Okay, the first was about hidden reality (fair enough), the second about man’s clairvoyance skills (ha! Good point for every philosophy school which actually has some idea of what would happen if we knew our tomorrow as well as our yesterday. Is it actually possible that any organism can know more about its purpose…no matter whether in space or time dimension, conscious of its Self or not?).
Then there was number three…
…pushing forward into a morally grey zone.
The article as such is only titled “What if… we learn to talk to animals?”.
Most answers to most questions are basic: Communicating with any animal wouldn’t be an actual problem. Somehow, we would figure it out, with some code or some translation tool.
Mind you, we already struggle to communicate in different languages, adapt to another culture, 99% of the population with a rather low CQ would feel like phoning Saturn.
Nonetheless the moral implications could draw a wider circle of devastation for the human race. The line between man and animal could become forever blurred.
Not long ago, a court in the US decided that animal rights activists could not claim personhood for two of their research chimpanzees.
And suddenly, for the first time in history newspapers, scientists and lab rats had to wonder about what would it really mean if an animal – genetically close to man or not – could become an actual “person” with all its rights.
Most certainly animals would have to share our system of laws, ideas and ethics. But even before thinking about the complexity of adapting an animal mind to a human idea, there is a big blow for all ladies with make-up, as still a lot of cosmetic testing is done on chimps, and if they actually shared our “human” rights system we couldn’t lock them up anymore (Clearly!), or do any worse experiments.
While this could lead to a massive drop in lipstick sales or vaccine research, let’s see what further problems would arise out of nowhere.
Man loves to personify everything visible – and invisible – that comes his way.
Personify here is to create and assign human traits to what he perceives. And, of course, with this personify the object to his own needs and requirements.
Naturally so, every dairy cow and piglet receive a name (or a number), and whatever creature has a name with an approximate closeness to another person’s heart, we assign moral rights to. It then enters a grey zone between human rights and dinner table.
Don’t forget, we put it there.
This is where it all becomes so uncomfortable that it seems to be reasonable that children don’t know their fish fingers once lived in the sea.
“How would we weigh an animal’s life against a human one?“
But why is that we have to get out the scales in the first place?
Man slaughters as many humans as animals (on average across history) and still is adamant animals don’t deserve the same rights – while they die very much the same death.
In lowering our ethical standards we have become the creature with animal instinct, in raising our egos, are much worse – my thoughts on how man differs from animal are still in a collective state.
Bear with me on this.
Despite this, we even got that far to consider rights (meaning it would fall under the jurisdiction of each country, therefore it can also be taken to court) we are not ready to give up our status as sole superior species as yet.
No worries then: ambitious goldfish will stay where they are.