Would you say that STAR WARS droids are persons?

Poll in a second or two. Why? Because I feel like it.

The droids seem to have distinct personalities, memories, and sense of their own “swelf” and “volition”. By any reasonable definition, they’re people, and trading them seems akin to slavery.
I’ve often made the point that Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet is a real robot – he’s a programmed machine, who might have what seems to be a “character”, but he’s really not supposed to have a “self”, and much of the humor his character elicits is due to elements of his programming seeming like human emotion or reaction, when it really isn’t. One could imagine Morbius programming Robby to sound exasperated as he says “again?” 9in response to Altaira’s demand for a new dress), or programming in deadpan droll comments like “I rarely use it myself, sir. It promotes rust.” when being told on Altair 4’s high oxygen content. But the deadpan “will 60 gallons be sufficient?” and “Sat Sapphires take a week to crystallize. Will Diamonds or Emeralds do?” are simply Robby making queries or factual questions with no implied ulterior motive.

On the other hand, R2D2 and C-3PO are metal people. They squabble among themselves and make comments to no one in particular (“Oh, my! I’ve forgotten how much i HATE space travel!”) You couldn’t see Robby mumbling under his non-breath like that.

I think it depends. Droids that have managed to escape memory wipes (which are supposed to be standard procedure in the SW universe) will most likely develop sentience/sapience as the two viewpoint-droids have. But that would be a minority. Not to the point of 3PO and R2 being unique, but there would definitely be more machine-droids than person-droids.

I was thinking of Threepio in particular. I didn’t see Star Wars until I was an adult–late twenties or so–and knew very little of it. Going into it virgin, I was struck by how Threepio begs for his life in his first interaction with Luke, when Artoo has gone missing and Threepio thinks he’s going to be disassembled for letting that happen. The fact that he was self-aware enough to see the danger he was in, and emotional enough to fear it, sealed the deal on his humanity for me.

The battle droids in Clone Wars are clearly sentient as well. They get happy; they get sad; they’re afraid of the Jedi; they worry about their comrades.

Where’s the link? Darn you, Skald!

Robby, IIRC, wasn’t “programmed” to do anything at all.

He was “monitored.” :smiley:

I didn’t know what to choose. I was torn between these two options:

  • Both Threepio & Artoo are sentient, but they’re probably unique or nearly so.
  • A sizable minority of droids are sentient beings.

I don’t really know much about the other droids. I think about the droids in KOTOR and KOTOR II (oh, right, you don’t play video games. Knights of the Old Republic I and II). They had minds of their own, certainly. They did things because it was their duty and because they wanted to.

It’s disturbing to think it, but as far as I can tell, they are trading in a slave race, and the revolution is coming.

I remind you that it’s Wednesday.

A sizable minority (at least) of droids must be sentient. No one who encounters C3PO seems to be startled that he has a distinct personality, etc - if this was a rare phenomenon, Owen and Luke would have reacted to it.

Mika, have you seen the Clone Wars series? Because it’s pretty clear that Artoo and Threepio’s sentience is the rule there, not the exception. Which is disturbing (probably deliberately so) because the Jedi (save only Anakin and Ahsoka, and definitely including Obi-Wan) treat droids on their side – even Artoo – as entirely disposable non-persons, when it’s hard to see how they could miss the obvious signs. There’s the occasional hint that some of the Clone Troopers (who, quite reasonably, have a different perspective) realize that droids at least have feelings.

Having said all that, I don’t think Artoo is a slave, though Threepio certainly is. Artoo does whatever the fuck he feels like doing. He’ll disobey orders whenever he thinks it’s a good idea, and sometimes simply because he’s bored. The Jedi only think they control him. And of course, the future Darth and his jailbait girlfriend don’t have even that illusion.

Nope. I presume you think it’s worthwhile for me to watch the Clone wars series?

Obi-Wan even treated the clones as disposable persons. And I like Obi-wan.

You mean disposable non-persons, I’m sure. And I’m just as sure that I’ve made far worse typos on the Dope just today.

I went into Clone Wars as a non-Star Wars fan, as the lone man of my generation who hadn’t lusted after Carrie Fisher in her metal bikini. I swiftly grew to love it, even though there are several elements of the series which are my hot buttons to be irritated by.

It’s extremely well-done. The characterization is about a million times better than the movies. The writing staff has actually thought through the implications of the setting and universe in a way that George Lucas never seemed to; for instance, the fact that the Clone Troopers are unquestionably brainwashed slaves comes up more than once. The Jedi think they’re unambiguous white hats, but others point out their flaws. If they’d close up the jailbait kid’s boob window, the show would be perfect.

I even like the fact that Obi-Wan doesn’t see the Clones as persons. It’s consistent with the movies, and it shows an effort to make the story more complex.

Well, I have to admit, I’m not big enough of a SW fan to be familiar enough with the universe to make a truly well-informed answer—for all I know, most droids are supposed to be mindless automata, but it’s just that the majority of the ones we encounter in-story seem to be sentient/sapient.

I also don’t know how much the, for lack of a better word, “supernatural” aspect factors into this—in the SW universe, The Force demonstrably exists, is said to surround “all living things,” and Force “ghosts” exist, implying the existence of something akin to a “soul.” But what does that mean for droids? If a droid can’t access the Force, does that mean he has no “soul,” or is it more akin to just a “person” with an unusual medical condition?

And how much does a “soul” even matter in this universe—in some fictional universes, a being without a soul is just a drooling zombie. But in others, a being lacking a soul is just as conscious, intelligent, and self-aware as one with a soul, the main difference being that their consciousness just goes poof! and ceases to exist after death. Which one applies to SW—does anyone even know, in-story?

So either the Star Wars universe raises unsettling questions about the nature and status of life and sentience; or it’s complicit to the core in the creation and exploitation of a doomed slave-race over thousands of years, in numbers I can’t even begin to fathom. Possibly both.

It’s another reason I always preferred Star Trek—at least the only mindless, soulless heaps-in-the-shape-of-man I had to worry about were the writers and producers. :smiley:

I think it’s tough to call. The depictions of the droids even in the movies, much less the EU, aren’t very consistent. Which is not really a huge surprise, given that internal consistency wasn’t much of a priority as far as I can tell for Lucas. And I say that as a big SW fan.

I remember a scene from - I think - The Empire Strikes Back - that showed a droid having a hot iron applied to his feet. And screaming. So they can feel pain.

When you really think about the Star Wars universe, you realize that there are no “good guys” - the Jedi and the Rebels aren’t really any better than the Empire.

Most of the droids on screen have some sentience, but we have no idea how representative those are of other droids. There might be 300 billion nanodroids floating around for every R2 unit, or R2 and 3P0 units might be considered the least self-aware droids in the Galaxy.

Ethics of slavery aside, I’ve wondered what the advantage of owning Anakin and his mother would be to owning droids. You’d think droids would be the far better ‘slave’- they work harder, can be programmed to do most any task, I doubt they get bored or distracted, and presumably they ‘live’ several times longer.

I’ve heard that claim before (maybe from you; I don’t keep track of these things) and I’ve never gotten it. I mean, yes, it’s obvious that the Old Republic was corrupt, but that was mostly in the sense of being moribund. (Yes, I know, they had an army of slave soldiers, but given that that was under the administration of a Sith Lord whose ultimate aim was to destroy the Republic, it’s hard to assign blame there.) The Jedi were strategically incompetent and often self-deceived. But neither approaches the Empire for pure evil. *The Empire destroyed an inhabited planet to make a political point.

*The worst sins of Jedi & Old Republic do not compare.

And C3PO clearly reacts in a manner suggesting empathy and fear for himself in that situation.

IIRC, that was in the “Jabba’s New Employee (Droids Division) Orientation Tour” scene in Return of the Jedi.

You can’t put people back together when they get blasted to bits in the back rooms of Cloud City, so I’m going to go with close, but no cigar.