No, my question has not changed in the least- I merely tightened its focus. My original question was “What defines human?”, and later on I amended it to “What legally and morally defines human?”. Sorry for any confusion this might have caused you. And by the way, I never panic. At least never so online. Goldfishiness is optional.
I did, in fact, read those fifteen words. Perhaps you were answering only for your own benefit- if so, all is well and good. You did, however, profess to answer MY question- and you did so in a meaningless manner. It’s as if you’d said, “A human is any creature which knockfoodles antirons”- without a meaningful definition of antirons and exactly how one knockfoodles them, the answer is meaningless. The problem is even worse if antirons aren’t a measurable phenomenon- or even acknowledged to exist by a sizable portion of the scientific community.
Now, on to your (expounded) answer.
From what you’ve said, the only way to prove whether an entity is “human” is to kill it. This seems to me to be a particularly barbaric test, but whatever, as long as it works. Oh, but once freed from its “Cosmic Fart” (as you so eloquently put it), we can never detect whether the entity’s essence still exists? Hmm, back to the drawing board- oh, and grab us a new entity to test while you’re at it- this one’s all used up.
Look, here’s a remarkably simplified example:
A court has convened. This court is appointed to determine whether a group of entities are human, and are to be assigned all the rights and privileges that exalted position entails. You’re the judge, you get to decide. Please explain each decision. Oh, and killing 'em off to figure it out is considered bad form.
(We’ll use my previous examples.)
- Baseline human.
- Baseline human with a prosthetic limb.
- Baseline human with a prosthetic organ (heart, lung, etc.).
- Human brain in a completely prosthetic body (cyborg).
- Human personality encoded into a computer.
- Sentient computer/robot taught to think of itself as a human, or with a database of “typical” human knowledge.
- Sentient computer/robot manufactured by humans.
- Human genetically altered for a specific trait- low risk of a certain disease, etc.
- Human genetically altered to express many traits, or a major trait- heightened intelligence, ability to breathe underwater, etc.
- Completely genegineered person (base stock human or animal or other), still raised as a “human”.
- Extraterrestrial alien raised as a human (say it was adopted by humans).
- Extraterrestrial alien.
Now, which of these subjects is a legally recognized human, and which are animals or machines? And (here’s the important part) how do you decide which is which?
The reason I ask this is because I think we’re getting very close to the point in our evolution,as a species,where we’ll be able to sufficiently modify ourselves such that the very definition of “human” will be tested daily. Nanotech, genetic modifications, you name it; I imagine we’ll need some sort of guidelines to determine what critters can be part of our society- or do you think that we should just accept anyone who applies?