Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Test")

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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby Globus » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:22 am

And now, I finally feel it right to post this here. Thank you, Alphabet.

This is a great... erm... novella? by the AI-researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky, about first contact with aliens who actually are alien. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Three Worlds Collide
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby Merle » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:40 am

Well, that's going right on the to-read list!
And yeah, I can definitely see it as being very tricky when dealing with truly non-human intelligences.

When you come right down to it, for that matter, even a Thri-keen is more similar to humans than not; they're physically alien but mentally fairly close to us. Working with creatures that truly think differently than humans, that may have difficulty modeling our mental states as we do theirs, would be...interesting.
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby mendel » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:28 am

snowyowl wrote:it only defines what is acceptable to human ethics, not alien ones.
Well, it doesn't even define human ethics particularly well - Maxine and Jamie would pass the test in strip 193, though we think it is more ethical for them to not do it. Another exception is sex with people you have power over (e.g. employees or pupils), which is often legally prohibited.

And it defines bestiality in weird ways. Since this is originally a religious category, the narrow definition would be to prohibit any sex that can't result in procreation. This would make any interspecies intercourse automatically off-limits, and this test moot. But if interspecies intercourse is ok, then why have an intelligence criterium at all?

Consent is determined by initiating intercourse in the absence of physical or psychological pressure, or agreeing on said pressures beforehand in an atmosphere that is free of them. (Note that speech doesn't even come into this.)
It is also necessary that you understand the consequences that your sex act entails, and that you take responsibility for them. A checkbox test can't absolve you of that.
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby snowyowl » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:59 pm

mendel wrote:Maxine and Jamie would pass the test in strip 193, though we think it is more ethical for them to not do it.
Speak for yourself. There was no ethical reason for them not to have sex as I see it, Jamie just didn't want to.

mendel wrote:Another exception is sex with people you have power over (e.g. employees or pupils), which is often legally prohibited.
Excellent point!
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby Merle » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:23 pm

Globus wrote:And now, I finally feel it right to post this here. Thank you, Alphabet.

This is a great... erm... novella? by the AI-researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky, about first contact with aliens who actually are alien. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Three Worlds Collide


This was a very difficult read...I think I'm going to need to read it at least one more time to properly digest it.
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby mendel » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:42 pm

snowyowl wrote:
mendel wrote:Maxine and Jamie would pass the test in strip 193, though we think it is more ethical for them to not do it.
Speak for yourself. There was no ethical reason for them not to have sex as I see it, Jamie just didn't want to.

Dude, are we even reading the same webcomic? (Well, actually we may not, as I quoted the number wrong. I meant strip 293. Sorry.)
If we are, you mean to say that Maxine did what she did in Strip 295 without an ethical reason?
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby snowyowl » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:44 am

mendel wrote:Dude, are we even reading the same webcomic? (Well, actually we may not, as I quoted the number wrong. I meant strip 293. Sorry.)
If we are, you mean to say that Maxine did what she did in Strip 295 without an ethical reason?

Oh, I see - I was thinking of the 150-155 arc for some reason.

I agree that Max made the right choice in 294/295. Jamie was being self-destructive and it would not have been good for either of them to go through with it.

But! They both went in there as consenting adults with (theoretically) full awareness of their situation and the consequences of their actions. It's legally OK and generally acceptable by society's standards. Maybe the Harkness Test only really serves to extend society's standards in a consistent way to cover more esoteric situations.

Off-topic footnote: Jamie wasn't in his right mind, but if you forbid people from consenting to sex unless they're in a completely lucid and normal state of mind, nobody would ever get laid.
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby Globus » Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:33 am

I really don't see the problem you too are debating. Nothing in the world is a list of checkboxes, and something not being a crime is a lot different than it being a good idea.

Which of the two, exactly, is the Harkness Test to decide?
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby Merle » Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:10 am

Globus wrote:I really don't see the problem you too are debating. Nothing in the world is a list of checkboxes, and something not being a crime is a lot different than it being a good idea.

Which of the two, exactly, is the Harkness Test to decide?


I can't see it as anything other than a good checklist for the basic first-test. I mean, there are plenty of situations where it's not illegal or horribly unethical to have sex with someone when it may not be a good idea.
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Re: Ethics of Out-Species Sexual Relations ("The Harkness Te

Postby mendel » Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:23 pm

snowyowl wrote:Maybe the Harkness Test only really serves to extend society's standards in a consistent way to cover more esoteric situations.
Well, to be realistic, the test probably really serves to write fanfic that people won't act too offended about. ;)

For societal standards, any sex with what looks like animals is probably a bad idea bordering on bestiality, while "humans with weird ears" is probably acceptable. (Which ought to cover Captain Kirk.) Which kinda gets double-standard-y when you think about shapeshifters. :geek:
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