Pro-life hobbits

Pro-life hobbits

Ramesh Ponnuru, author of “Party of Death”, a book about the culture of death especially in the political sphere, responds to a critique of his book with a defense of the right to life of hobbits. Yeah, you read that right.

A critic specifically takes on Ponnuru’s central argument that “all members of the human species count as persons with a right not to be killed.”

Sinhababu makes two principal arguments against the pro-life position. The first is that it treats membership in the human species as a necessary and sufficient condition for personhood and a right to life, and thus leaves hobbits, aliens, and kittens out in the cold. This line of argument supplies him with a nice closing line: “To ground moral status in biological humanity is to shrug at the enslavement of hobbits, the slaughter of kittens, and the destruction of all life beyond earth.”

…  Sinhababu’s argument would be valid if I indeed treated biological humanity as a necessary condition for a right to life. Instead, I treat it as a sufficient condition. I argue that any being with a rational nature has a right to life, and explicitly mention, in a footnote, that aliens could count. It is possible that I sometimes speak slightly loosely of humanity as a necessary condition for the right to life. If so, it is only because my book considers a universe in which hobbits and extraterrestrial life do not, to our knowledge, exist.

The next big question is: if hobbits have a right to life, what about orcs?

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
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