Man vs. Machine – An Exploration of the Concept 'Continuity'

Dissertation, NTNU (2005)
The purpose of my Masters thesis was to develop a conceptual framework for analysing the relation between human beings (moral persons) and other entities that share a subset of our properties. The background for this project was MIT historian Bruce Mazlish’s claim that humans are continuous with machines, in the same way that we are continuous with animals and the world at large. Rather than focusing explicitly on whether humans are indeed unique or not, my aim was to reach a better understanding of what such a claim amounts to. This is important since the uniqueness of man has important implications for our conception of ourselves, our relation to other entities, and our corresponding moral obligations. The sometimes paradoxical claims about human uniqueness is perhaps best illustrated by animal experimentation, which on the one hand rests on the assumption that there is a continuity between man and animals (i.e. the experimental results are relevant for humans) but, on the other hand, that there is a discontinuity between man and animals when it comes to moral obligations.
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