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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