We all think that animals have at least some rights, though there are different opinions about exactly why they do so. Some say it is because of their sentience, some because of rationality, and some because of our sympathy. But robots are getting smarter and smarter these days, and some people [for example here, also attached below] are beginning to seriously ask whether these sorts of reasons apply to robots as well. Are they sentient? Are they rational? Certainly, some robots are pretty cute. So we ask, if animals have rights, should robots?
The European Wars of Religion taught the West a bloody lesson in the value of mutual toleration between religious groups. The practices of traditional religious groups towards some of their members, however, seem discriminatory and unjust by the egalitarian standards of the liberal state (for example, here). Can these practices be tolerated? Some (such as Habermas) suggest that these groups must simply adjust their beliefs to fit the egalitarian ethos. Others (such as Kymlicka) are more conciliatory. So what are the limits of religious toleration?
This question is increasingly relevant to the way discussions are conducted, public and academic. This was particularly the case for the Same-Sex Marriage debate, in which it was suggested [here] that the debate itself was problematic. And the very same concerns have now entered into the universities, with a recent petition for a prominent anti-SSM academic, John Finnis, to be removed from his position for his views [discussion here].
These cases raise immediate questions: Is it wrong to SAY that heterosexual relations are morally superior to homosexual relations? Does it matter whether it is true or not? Is there an inoffensive way of saying such a thing? If not, is the offense enough to make it wrong? To mean that it should be illegal? How CAN we have this sort of discussion? But there are also broader questions: How can we discuss ANYTHING about which opposing sides feel very strongly, if at all? Is sincere offense enough to make speech wrong? How free CAN philosophical discussion be in the public domain? Or is real philosophical discussion just too dangerous in public places?
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