Ethics in the light of godly beings
If a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth — beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals — would you concede them the rights over you that you assume over other animals?
— George Bernard Shaw
Imagine a being so vast and powerful that its theory of mind of other entities would itself be a sentient entity. If this entity comes across mere standard human beings, it does model these people at a level of resolution that every imagination it has of such a person would itself be conscious.
Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.
— Dr. Albert Schweizer
Just like we do not grant rights to our thoughts or the bacteria that make up a big part of our body such an entity wouldn’t and couldn’t grant existential rights to its thought processes. Even if they are of an extent that when coming across a human being the mere perception would incorporate the torture of a vast amount of human-level simulations.
True benevolence, or compassion, extends itself through the whole of existence and sympathises with the distress of every creature capable of sensation.
— Joseph Addison
It simply won't work to embrace everything in our ethical conduct. It won't work to grant everything even the most basic rights. Nevertheless, the answer can neither be to abandon morals altogether. Our human nature won't permit this. It is part of our preferences to be compassionate.
Our task must be to free ourselves . . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.
— Albert Einstein
How do we solve this dilemma? Right now it's relatively easy to handle. There are humans and then there is everything else. But even today — without uplifted animals, artificial intelligence, human-level simulations, cyborgs, chimeras and posthuman beings — it is increasingly hard to draw the line. For that science is advancing rapidly, allowing us to keep alive people with severe brain injury or save a premature fetus who's mother is already dead. Then there are the mentally disabled and other humans who are not neurotypical. We are also increasingly becoming aware that many non-human beings on this planet are far more intelligent and cognizant than expected.
And remember, as will be the case in future, it has already been the case in our not too distant past. There was a time when three different human species lived at the same time on the same planet. Three intelligent species of the homo genus, yet very different. Only 22,000 years ago we, H. sapiens, have been sharing this oasis of life with Homo floresiensis and Homo neanderthalensis.
How would we handle such a situation at the present-day? At a time when we still haven't learnt to live together in peace. At a time when we are still killing even our own genus. Most of us are not even ready to become vegetarian in the face of global warming, although livestock farming amounts to 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions.
So where do we draw the line? I think this question must be answered situational and arbitrary.