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Legal status of non-humans


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21 hours ago, megaplayboy said:

Humans are grandfathered in, and one of the elements of the test is that generally you don't have to get a perfect score to be considered a "person", legally speaking.  And if most members of a species qualify as persons, then those with "special needs" would likely be classified as persons.  

Well, I can see a supervillain arguing that why should baseline, born-of-unskilled-labor humans be grandfathered in? Under his wise rule (he is of course one of those arrogant genius types), people will receive a place in society commensurate to their personhood rating (all very Brave New World).

 

Or governments might try using TEAM scores to shape the electorate, or get out of various obligations. For instance, my understanding is that US Federal law enjoins states to educate all children as best they can, but teaching children with mental handicaps or other special needs is expensive. Won't the taxpayers be happy when you declare that children scoring at the lower end of the TEAM scale aren't actually persons, and so are no longer a drain on the public till! (Except for the parents of such children, of course.) And the tests can be manipulated to give desired results.

 

Dean Shomshak

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(Not saying the TEAM system isn't a reasonable idea -- just that people would try to manipulate it for their political ends. Because people will try to manipulate any system for political ends. Which generates stories, so that's a good thing.)

 

I expect that many groups would receive a collective assumption of personhood: "We have tested enough Perseids to say that all Perseids are assumed to be persons, unless evidence is produced to suggest otherwise." Or elves, or clones. Things would get complicated with one-offs (is the hive-mind pf robot beetles a sentient person, even though the individual robots are nearly mindless?) or there's a spectrum (in stories, ghosts range from mindless video loops to fully intelligent and free-willed people). Then there'd need to be individual testing.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

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The general idea is to have a consistent way to determine the "personhood" of "exotic" beings without having to spitball it every time.  Can they communicate like a person, feel and process emotions like a person, act independently and solve problems like a person and self-motivate like a person?  If so they're presumptively a person.  If not they might not be a person but still be entitled to some legal protections(the same way that minors and legally incompetent persons(those with dementia, e.g.)  still have some rights and protections).

Now, that horde of zerglings/xenomorphs may still be problematic even if you determine them to be legal persons...

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On 10/9/2020 at 4:38 AM, Lord Liaden said:

 

Perhaps if you've ceased to be alive your personhood is considered to be expired. Law doesn't normally concern itself with issues of metaphysics.

 

I'm more worried about how free willed they are.  If they have a sire that has mental influence over them does that affect their personhood?

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How about half-human hybrids like in the following example:

 

Anna's mother is human and her father is a powerful being from another dimension (and indeed, the ruler of said dimension). She's still a child and thus hasn't yet matured enough to unlock the powers that are part of her genetic inheritance. Her father, however, gave her a means of summon help from his realm if she's ever in danger. One good, loud distress cry out of her and any would-be assailants will suddenly find themselves staring down a cadre of the beings who serve her father; or if they're particularly unlucky, Dear Ol' Dad shows up to deal with them in person.

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Personhood carries with it legal protections, but personhood is not always recognized when it should be. Pokémon in particular are very badly treated -- being made to fight each other with attacks that cause serious pain and suffering by human trainers for the amusement of stadium crowds, and otherwise being treated like "mere" animals. For them, their world is almost dystopian, and they are not afforded the legal protections their intelligence would demand.

 

There have been episodes of TNG about the legal status of Data. Initially there were questions about whether he was a legal person even in the "enlightened" Federation, or whether he was the property of Starfleet. There were also episodes about questions like whether the "daughter" he constructed belonged to Starfleet, and a couple where someone tired to keep him as a "collector's item". Data was considered just as much a person as any other officer or enlisted crew by everyone about the Enterprise and was considered equal to people like Will Riker and Geordi LaForge. He was capable of original thought, taking enjoyment in expressing himself through music and painting, taking care of a cat -- in short, everything humans do. The only difference is that he was made of metal, wiring, and silicon instead of cells.

 

And e all know very few in his world do not consider Superman a person (mainly xenophobes like Lex Luthor).

 

Some some of the qualities listed here are difficult to use as tests. Ability to communicate with humans. Well, that rules out Pokémon, although their other characteristic might suggest personhood. Human DNA? Rules out Superman, which makes it a really bad definition. And what about AIs who happen to be immobile, or who exist on the Internet? That defies traditional traditional ideas of what life is.

 

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On 10/17/2020 at 11:15 PM, dmjalund said:

does one have to be life to be a person?


Suddenly I’m thinking of the life forms in Robert Forward’s *Dragon’s Egg* which are basically intelligent sesame seed-sized clusters of atomic nuclei bound together by string force living in the atmosphere of a neutron star. Are they alive? If so, are they then people?

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Modern law doesn't really plunge in-depth into philosophy or theology. Those may motivate and shape the law, but ultimately the objective is to create reasonable precepts applicable to practical situations.

 

The OP asked about the legal status of non-humans in the Champions Universe. For that there's an answer, and there are reasons why it's the answer. It certainly isn't a flawless or indisputable answer, but then, the law is rarely flawless or indisputable.

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On 10/19/2020 at 1:25 PM, Lord Liaden said:

Modern law doesn't really plunge in-depth into philosophy or theology. Those may motivate and shape the law, but ultimately the objective is to create reasonable precepts applicable to practical situations.

 

The OP asked about the legal status of non-humans in the Champions Universe. For that there's an answer, and there are reasons why it's the answer. It certainly isn't a flawless or indisputable answer, but then, the law is rarely flawless or indisputable.

The flaws and disputes in the law make for strong storytelling when used properly. It wouldn't necessarily be part of combat-centered adventures, but it raises story fodder. Like whether ambushing and destroying the latest version of Mechanon is murder, both ethically and under the law. (Mechanon may be a special case because he is so very dangerous, but I would not be surprised if other, less dangerous sapient robots are murdered when they are destroyed.)

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Over on Champions Online, there's been a running controversy among players who have been informed of the Triple-A Act, over those who have decided they can destroy undead with impunity, even the intelligent kinds such as vampires, because those don't count as "persons" and don't have legal rights.

 

Vampires, demons and their ilk are more numerous and visible in CO than in the tabletop version of the setting. That's in great measure due to the player base, many of whom come from fantasy games and don't know much about the superhero genre, so they try to play what they're used to. That, and a lot of them just want to pretend they're edgy and badass. ;)

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