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Intelligent Beings Enter our Gallaxy
WHO ARE THEY?
They appear to be hominids, but they
are clearly superior in their technology and in their intelligence
(they never forget anything and can mentally beat our computers in
calculating figures). They even have unique capabilities (e.g., they
have ESP powers). With their technology, they are vastly more
powerful than human beings. One might even suggest that they are
"superior" to us "puny earthlings" (to quote a phrase used in some
WHAT DO THEY WANT?
centuries ago they despoiled their planet with pollution and
overpopulation. Those problems were long ago solved but they now
have no "animal" life on their planet other than themselves. Noting
that there are plenty of us on this crowded planet, that we are
clever little critters and that we even share some similarity in our
physiological functions, they have become interested in "using" us as
a planetary resource, and therefore have considered that maybe they
should be permitted to "sport" hunt us for their enjoyment, "farm"
us for food, and do medical experiments to advance their own medical
IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE
In the name of
fair play, "kindness", or some sense of alien justice, however, they
propose to do no more to us than what we are doing to our game, farm
and lab animals. Many hundreds of millions of humans will therefore
be randomly chosen each year and wrenched from their homes and
families to be guinea pigs for their experiments, some very painful
and some lasting for years. In the name of "conservation" other
humans will be culled by Centaurian sport hunters. And many other
human beings will simply be gathered up and factory farmed for a
short period in order to fatten them further. With respect to those
chosen for medical experiments, at the end of the experiment, if one
should survive, one will be used for another experiment and finally
at some point one will, of course, be killed and dissected. This is
exactly what we do to animals in our labs, and the Alpha Centaurians
promise to do no worse. This, of course, seems like little comfort.
A SECOND CHANCE
Now, out of some alien sense of
compassion they have, however, given us a chance to be exempt from
such treatments as we inflict upon our own planet's non-human
animals, but ONLY IF we can convince them with rational argument
that it is ethically wrong to use us in this way.
As a representative of the human race your task is
to try to make a case for humans to be exempt from becoming their
"livestock", "game", and "research tools". Does anyone care to make
the case for why the Alpha Centaurians should NOT experiment upon
human beings? Don't be timid, after all, the lives of many humans,
and possibly your own, will depend upon your effort to convince
these aliens not to do what they have proposed. Remember, it is the
case that the Centaurians are vastly superior to us humans in terms
of their inherent intelligence and possess certain capacities that
we lack and find incomprehensible (e.g.,telepathy). Finally, it
turns out that they, like us, are herbivores and do not really have
to eat meat to feed themselves or even their pets.
IS THE POINT?
Let me point out that this scenario about the
Alpha Centaurians is called a "thought experiment"
(`Gedankenexperiment'). Einstein, for example, engaged in such
imaginary scenarios in his theoretical development of relativity
theory and contemporary philosophers often use such thought
experiments in analyzing certain issues. The purpose of such thought
experiments is to help us unearth and examine what might be some
unexamined assumptions and possible implications of what we may
believe. With the situation at hand, we are challenged to reflect
upon behind our acceptance of how we treat other sentient animals
I would hope that some people might think
through this experiment for the intellectual fun of the exercise.
Permit me to just point out the obvious. A common excuse that often
is invoked is simply that we humans are in some important respects
"superior" or qualitatively different to other animals in a manner
that is crucially relevant for how we might exclude them from our
circle of concern and compassion. Well, would we still use this as a
justification if we in turn were faced with a Being "superior" or
more "powerful" to ourselves? If you say yes, well at least that is
consistent, but who are we fooling as to what you would really say
if faced with such a situation? If you declare "no, the Centaurians
have no right to treat us that way", then what would be a good
justification for our current practice of how we in turn treat our
fellow animals. What must be produced is a rational justification
that condones our current practice while at the same time prevents
the Alpha Centaurians from doing the same to us.
SOME PAST RESPONSES TO THE THOUGHT
[email protected] (Tim
Now, this was initially puzzling but an
obvious solution exists. Since we have advanced reasoning
ability and intelligence, we can discuss and debate the
issue with the aliens. An animal that relies primarily on
instinct could not perform such a feat. This demonstrates
that the human/nonhuman animal difference is much larger and
more significant than the alien/human difference. This alone
should save us.
Such hubris from a puny Earthling! We
Alpha Centurians in our reasoning and intelligence are as advanced
over you as you are over a field mouse! And just as "animals are not
people", don't forget that "humans are not Alpha Centaurians". Is
there some critical threshold of intelligence and reason, which if
you surpass you now qualify for Alpha Centaurian consideration? Tell
me, puny Earthling, even if we accept that you qualify what about
your less capable brethren? The IQ of some brain damaged humans
fails to exceed even the IQ of a bird, who can at least feed and
take care of itself.
If it doesn't,
we humans have cunning and intelligence to fight the aliens.
Since they are vastly superior, we wouldn't win a head to
head confrontation. However, we could seek and discover a
chink in their armor and cause them significant losses if
not defeat them. Since there is no possibility of deer
organizing and mounting a combined offensive against humans,
this also demonstrates a key difference between nonhuman
animals, humans and aliens.
You dare threaten
us! Well, we shall grant that you are indeed the most threatening
animal on this planet. At one time you feared the seas because of
sea monsters, but you overcame such threats and now all sea monsters
are your prey. Well, we have no such fear of sea monsters nor of
you, so go ahead and try our patience. An `argumentum ad baculum'
does not wash for either of our common interstellar standards of
So the deer can't organize a combined offensive and
you can. Indeed, that does make you the most dangerous. And what
have you done with this ability to become so dominant? Apparently,
you have merely used it to satisfy your self-interest. Well, by the
same token why should we constrain our self-interest when you have
Of course you are different than other animals but so
is each species unique. Tell me, by what Earthling logic is your
particular difference of moral relevance? If anything, your cunning
and proven treachery suggests that you cannot be trusted; we are
better off to trust the deer that you kill.
These examples illustrate that there are two "levels"
of consciousness. Nonhuman animals are on one level. Humans
and aliens are on another. So it would be wrong for aliens
to "utilize" humans for the same reason it is wrong for
humans to "utilize" other humans. Since we don't conduct
experiments without human permission, the aliens can't
perform experiments without ours.
We only see
a difference in degree, not in kind. But even if we agree that you
are relevantly different, you presume too much to think that you and
we are of the same kind. There are some of us, who by a mere thought
could wipe out your planet. I'm sure that this must seem as
formidable to you as your organized cunning and technology is to the
deer. To feed your overbearing hubris, let us say that there are 3
levels of "intelligence". Now, tell me why any "lower intelligence"
cannot be exploited by the higher, that we cannot justifiable
exploit you as you exploit the "lower intelligences" in turn? Are
double standards something species-specific to you puny earthlings?
Using humans to benefit their race
would be as justifiable as our use of animals to benefit
ours. In my mind, 1 human is worth the life of some large
number of rats. If they are as far above us as we are above
rats, then let 'em use us.
OK, that warrants their
use of us for experiments. What about their non-necessary appetite
for human flesh or their off-hours entertainment of sports hunting?
Incidentally, they might even use bows, for the challenge, but given
their protective suits and their ability to disable all our machines
from a distance, all our puny weapons have been rendered useless.
[email protected] (Christopher Morton)
They can believe whatever they want. They'd
just better ONLY travel in groups. They'd also better watch
what they eat, what they touch and where they sit. And above
all, they'd better develop the ability to smell Vigoro
sensitized with diesel fuel, and watch out for cars left
unattended near important places.
posturings Earthling! Do you fear the horns of deer and cows; do you
run from a charging rhino? Without your weapons you take flight.
Otherwise, such puny animal defenses are really no match. A minor
inconvenience to be sure, but no more. Your Earthling bluster is
merely the bark of a poodle. Your kitten claws are a mere tickle to
us. Indeed, we can simply declaw you all.
Is this planet so
void of rational argument? Are empty threats the best this species