Are Human Beings the Only Rights Bearing Entities? Maybe Not.

Letter 1

At 10:58 AM 4/5/2019, I wrote:

Dear T:

In my view, a fertilized egg now lying in a petri dish is as human as a 3 week old baby. Why? Because the adult version of this fertilized egg is a rights bearing creature, a human being.

Letter 2

—–Original Message—–

From: T

Sent: Friday, April 05, 2019 3:49 PM

To: Walter Block <>

Subject: RE: abortion, eviction, murder, and medical science

Thanks so much for your reply.

One last question I could not find addressed in any of your publications, If that fertilized egg were created, not by a sperm and an egg, but were manufactured (as is soon to be possible) from a text file and a DNA synthesizer machine, would you still con

Letter 3

—–Original Message—–

From: Walter Block []

Sent: Saturday, April 06, 2019 12:23 PM

To: T

Subject: RE: abortion, eviction, murder, and medical science

Dear T:

My answer is the same. I would consider such an entity a rights bearing creature, albeit not a human being, if and only if the adult version of the product of “a text file and a DNA synthesizer machine” would be considered a human being, with rights.

Murray Rothbard once brilliantly (a redundancy) answered this challenge.  If I could find it, I’d quote him here. (If anyone can supply me with this quote, I’d be grateful). In its absence, I’ll have to content myself with giving you the gist of it.

Murray said, suppose we go to Mars, and see some creatures that look half like a snake, half like a shark, half like a chicken and half like a frog (Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind, nor have I embraced fractional reserve banking; I’m just trying to paint a word picture from memory). And suppose the adults of these creatures said something like this to us:

“Hey, welcome to our planet. We’re glad you’re here. We’ll be delighted to engage in trade with you. We believe in specialization and the division of labor. We promise not to initiate violence against you earthlings.”

Suppose we were way more powerful than they are. We’ve got guns, all they’ve got are sharp teeth. Are we entitled to blast them away? Murray says no, and I fully agree with him. They aren’t human beings, but they have rights. (Similarly, if advanced beings ever enter our planet, and can obliterate us, it would be wrong for them to do so, since even though we are vastly inferior to them, we are still rights bearing).

Ditto for the product of  “a text file and a DNA synthesizer machine.” These robots, if they can petition for their rights, and respect our own, should not be slaughtered by us, even if we have the capacity to do so.

What about dolphins, chimpanzees and pigs? I think they are the smartest animals, but I’m not sure. When and if any of them can petition for their rights, promise to respect ours, then, I think, libertarian theory would not be compatible with treating them as we do our fellow human beings, by respecting their rights. No animal on earth, however, has come anywhere near being able to do this.

Maybe, one day, an animal could be trained to read such a script. That would not be sufficient in my view. The animal, or the robot, would have to mean these words; not be programed, merely, to repeat them, mindlessly. How we could tell the difference would be an interesting question. I suppose their next behaviors would determine this.


8:57 pm on August 5, 2019

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