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break out the philosophy hats... - silver Harloe

About break out the philosophy hats...

Previous Entry break out the philosophy hats... Dec. 17th, 2005 @ 11:29 am Next Entry
"what is an entity?" as in how would you define, for "official purposes" a 'person like entity' which deserves fundamental rights/freedoms and which should have fundamental responsibilities?(without going into what rights/responsibilities a 'person' has (yet) or going into the differentiation between a person and an adult citizen)

I am purposefully wanting the definition to be broad enough to cover hypothetial "sentient beings" from other worlds, and/or "sentient AIs".

I think I'd start with something borrowed (loosely, and loosely translated through my own experience - no dinging the original author because I express it poorly!) from Dan Dennet:

A person-like-entity has a continuous story which they themselves play a part in authoring. A person-like-entity cannot be modeled as something simpler than a human being.

The second sentence could perhaps be expanded thusly:
A model for a person-like-entity will not successfully predict the PLE's behavior unless the model is at least as complicated as our mental model of a human being. For example, I can predict what my cat will do without taking into account a rational weighing of possible alternatives, whereas I cannot predict any human's behavior without believing that they will try to predict different consequences of different actions and choose one which seems best to them (given their knowledge of the world and their prejudicies for or against certain kinds of evidence).
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From:lemurjoe
Date:December 19th, 2005 12:01 am (UTC)
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You sure do have a high opinion of the thinking processes of the average human. :)
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From:cratermoon
Date:December 19th, 2005 12:09 am (UTC)
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Must be a recognizably independent contributor/participant in a community of relations amongst beings self-identified as entities.
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From:silverharloe
Date:December 19th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC)
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so a person who lives alone on a desert island isn't a PLE? :)
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From:hillgiant
Date:December 19th, 2005 03:05 am (UTC)
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A community of one, is still a community. Perhaps?
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From:cratermoon
Date:December 19th, 2005 03:16 am (UTC)
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perhaps instead of "a recognizably independent contributor/participant", "recognizably able to be independent contributor/participant". In any case, as soon as you have an observer able to identify the PLE on the desert island, you have an interaction.
From:poke_utopia
Date:December 19th, 2005 12:09 am (UTC)
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Aren't corporations considered "individuals" in terms of the law?
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From:litch
Date:December 19th, 2005 01:03 am (UTC)
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They'd fit silver's definition, they have a persistent (which is closer to what I remember dennet describing) self-story and are at least as complex as the people that make them up.



From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 19th, 2005 01:16 am (UTC)
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They are, and they do fit my definition (which might be something I dislike)... but I'm not so interested in reflecting current US law, as coming up with what the fundamental definitions "should" be. (Corporations became people in the US due to what some consider "misapplication" of the 14th ammendment, which was supposed to be about "black" people but got used in courts over 300 times to give rights to corporations but only 3 times to give rights to "black" people)
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From:silverharloe
Date:December 19th, 2005 01:17 am (UTC)
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(error, that was supposed to be me)
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From:silverharloe
Date:December 19th, 2005 01:18 am (UTC)
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a slightly different tack might be to consider the definition in terms of a test. such as the Turing test.
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From:hillgiant
Date:December 19th, 2005 03:05 am (UTC)
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I would make a similar description. Anything capible of credibly asserting they are an entity is an entity.

Corporations are not entities, they are a legal construct.

I fear that my description could have a chilling effect on the rights of the severly dissabled.
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From:silverharloe
Date:December 19th, 2005 05:58 am (UTC)
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for the severely disabled (and children, and potentially fetuses), we should probably include some clause about "belonging to a set whose members primarily meet the definition" or some such.
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From:litch
Date:December 19th, 2005 04:02 am (UTC)
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one way that might be useful besides dennets test is look at if the entity is an economic force, or at least has the potential to engage in the market place
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From:ed_harloe
Date:December 20th, 2005 06:46 pm (UTC)
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Fundamental rights, freedoms and responsibilities are culturally concepts. It seems to me that the biggest part of being a Person-Like-Entity would have to be defined by rather or not the entity was CAPABLE of functioning within the current human society.

This would mean that feral humans, idiot hermits, babies, etc. are not PLEs. That does not mean they are not persons (or people) however. We are talking about defining a new noun here. Words are tricky because all the words we think with are so pregnant with shades of meaning based on our culture. Maybe Citizen Equivalent Entity would be better? It seems to me that silver is not focusing on the biological issues hooked to the word “person”, but to the intellectual and social connotations.

Could something be hyper-intelligent and still not be a PLE? I think so. If a mind were totally alien, it might not be capable of functioning in our society just because our concepts are so strange to it, that it could not get its “mind” around them. Perhaps only by forsaking its native culture, and being assimilated into ours, could it qualify as a PLE. This might require that it think so differently that it was no longer able to function in its native culture.
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