Monday, April 17, 2006

On what Pianka really thinks

This came up in the comment line of a previoius entry, in response to a link provided by Jim Lippard on what Pianka really is up to. I put this on the comments line but it really deserves its own entry.

The main point is this: the profound concern about Pianka's statements depend upon taking literally some statements he makes to the effect that human life per se does not have greater value than the life of bacteria and lizards. If you believe that, and if you think, ss he does, that human beings in their current numbers threaten the health of the ecosystem, then you have constructed a case for eliminating human beings in large numbers, whether you wanted to be doing that or not. But what is his value theory? Was he really saying that human life is not more valuable than the life of bacteria???

If he wasn't then he simply needs to be more clear. If hwe was, then, then this is too scary for words.

In my original comment I wrote:

All of these claims may be what he thinks. But what is upsetting to me is the claims his denial, or apparent denial of the intrinsic value of human life. I mean, if you make all these Malthusian predictions and then you say that human life is not valuable but biodiversity is, then you provide the underpinnings for an argument in favor of "rooting for viruses," if not turning them loose, even if you do not draw the conclusions yourself.

I conclude, therefore, that the responses of Mims and Carlson are understandable and based on something. Pianka does say things like "What good are you?" and "We're no better than bacteria." I can imagine things he might mean by it that would not lead to the sorts of dreadful results that come out of all of this, but perhaps all he is guilty of is a regrettable lack of clarity.

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