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Metalaw and SETI

Xenology, Metalaw and Thermoethics

3 Dec 2010, 05:29 UTC
Xenology, Metalaw and Thermoethics
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In 1979, the scientist, inventor (and then-newly minted lawyer) Robert A. Freitas, Jr. published the fascinating book Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization. Freitas has now graciously published the entire book on the web for free. It has a good summary of Andrew Haley's and Ernst Fasan's work on Metalaw, and another section detailing Fasan's elaboration of Haley's Metalaw accompanied by a useful table containing dozens of attempts by other authors to articulate metalegal concepts.What caught my attention, however, was yet another section that contains some valuable criticism of Metalaw, criticism which obviously predates my own paper critical of Metalaw for its failure to contemplate the likely machine nature of ETI.Freitas is skeptical of Metalaw' reliance on Kant's Categorical Imperative (and by implication, Metalaw's reliance on the natural law theory of jurisprudence). Freitas points out that Kant ignores "the possible existence of a sentience of a qualitatively higher order than that possessed by humanity." Freitas suggests that Ernst Fasan "falls into the same anthropocentric trap" by regarding "human-style intelligence as 'the highest possible level of life.' " Pointing out that multiple orders of higher sentience are possible (and quite likely given the likely ...

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