Is Data Human? The Metaphysics of Star Trek

By Richard Hanley | Go to book overview

to moral concerns like praise or blame, when two or more people act in concert. Thus it might make sense to judge the corporation to be guilty of negligence even though no individual member of the corporation is. And it might make sense to judge the nanite or Borg collective as corporate persons that are morally responsible even though no individual nanite or Borg is.


Summary

Our exploration into the nature of personhood has revealed that artificial personhood (and, by implication, artificial intelligence) is a distinct possibility, and that the fairest test to determine whether or not an individual qualifies for personhood does not depend on its ability to pass for a human being. If there were individuals like Data, or the exocomps, or the emergency medical hologram on Voyager, we ought to consider these individuals to be persons, and treat them accordingly--which is to say, we should consider their interests equally with the interests of human beings. To do otherwise would be unwarranted discrimination. But our exploration of personhood is not over. In Part Two, we examine the many exotic processes that persons undergo in Star Trek, asking whether or not such processes are possible, and whether or not human beings could survive them.

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Is Data Human? The Metaphysics of Star Trek
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • The Philosophic Enterprise Introduction xiii
  • New Life, New Civilizations Part I 1
  • Prime Suspects Chapter 1 3
  • Insufficient Data Chapter 2 41
  • Pro Creation Chapter 3 120
  • Matters of Survival Part II 121
  • To Beam or Not to Beam? Chapter 4 123
  • Personal Growth Chapter 5 163
  • Temporal Distortions Chapter 6 197
  • The Future Epilogue 235
  • Bibliography 239
  • Index 243
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