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Post-Brunch Intelligencer


Midmorning ramblings on the state of the species

Whence Comes Morality?

Posted by Nath at 10:57 AM
The most inconvenient thing about being an Atheist/Agnostic/Pastafarian is that there's no easy way to tell right from wrong. If you insist of having a sense of morality, you've got to invent one from scratch and then come up with a convincing-sounding justification for it later. Me, I'm partial to the whole 'inalienable rights' thing. Of course, it's all pretty arbitrary when you think about it. Who decides which rights are inalienable? Why do these rights apply to humans, but not to dolphins or sandwiches?

Silly little Nath, I hear you say. Everyone knows that human rights only apply to humans. And, presumably, to other sentient beings we might make contact with some day. So what makes a being sentient? Is it empathy? Evidently not. Curiosity? No. Reason? Creativity? None of the above, I'd say. There are humans that have none of these, and non-humans that have plenty.

When I started writing this, I was hoping to bring these nihilistic ramblings to some neat conclusion supporting the claim that it somehow makes sense for human beings, and only human beings, to have rights. Unfortunately, I cannot logically come to that conclusion – Athe knows I've tried. Young children, people in permanent vegetative states, people with severe mental retardation, and people with sociopathic tendencies may fail one or more of the criteria usually considered prerequisites for sentience. Yet they have inalienable rights, while more intelligent and/or compassionate creatures are slaughtered (cover your eyes) and eaten. Now, I'm no environmentalist, but this sort of thing gets hard to justify objectively.

The bottom line is that humans have rights while jam sandwiches do not simply because humans have more power over their environment. If a race of intelligent alien jam sandwiches were to descend from the skies tomorrow with advanced technology and a craving for toddler meat, our cries for justice and mercy would be no more valid than the squeals of the dolphins in that video.

That is all. I'm no closer to justifying my ideas of morality than I was when I started writing this, and now I feel like a sandwich.

Comments:

Posted by Blogger Raindrop at 03 August, 2006 22:12:
Throw some intelligence and selfish genes into a jam sandwich, et voila! Jam sandwich rights. Jam sandwich wars. Strawberry jamism. Blueberry jam slavery. White bread vs. brown bread.

*shudder*

Posted by Blogger Nath at 04 August, 2006 15:08:
Intelligence? Nah. All they need is opposable thumbs. Worked for us.

(Me, I'm rooting for brown bread.)

Posted by Blogger unforgiven at 05 August, 2006 02:04:
Might is right, it's one of those open yet embarassing secrets of the human race. We've raped any other species on this planet whenever it has suited our comfort.


Jam sandwiches after all, are at least, tasty :)


Great post dude, I am glad I found this blog. This is seriously good stuff!

Posted by Blogger Nath at 05 August, 2006 16:27:
Thanks.

Posted by Blogger Raindrop at 05 August, 2006 18:41:
Well, our intelligence evolved as a result of opposable thumbs.

Good choice with the brown bread. Brown is the new white. :p

Posted by Anonymous angry fix at 10 August, 2006 04:43:
I like Swiftean perspective you bring to the whole human rights issue.

Big-enders vs. Little-enders, pretty much.

Posted by Blogger Nath at 11 August, 2006 05:21:
Thanks. I'll have to take your word for it, though -- Gulliver's Travels is number 71 in the List Of Books I Really Should Get Around To Reading At Some Point, But Honestly Probably Won't.

Okay, I don't have such a list, but I've been meaning to make one.

Posted by Blogger angry fix at 11 August, 2006 09:32:
Big Loss, trust me.
Run to the nearest library/ book store and read it.

He's an angry, disgusted and misanthropic version of Oscar Wilde!

(That description sounds a bit much, I know.)

Posted by Blogger Nath at 14 August, 2006 11:56:
Hmm. Very well, Gulliver's Travels is hereby promoted to number 27 on the List.

Posted by Blogger Raindrop at 20 August, 2006 19:41:
There should be a law requiring bloggers* to update more often.

*Bloggers with a working knowledge of the world and english grammar, that is. That means you.

Yes, I can do the whole asterisk thing too. I even learned how to use quotation marks the other day. Soon, I'm going to be as smart as a 12 year old. Yay!

Posted by Blogger Nath at 21 August, 2006 03:26:
Thanks. It's funny that you should mention grammar, for reasons that will shortly become apparent.




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