Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is It Racist to Look Down on Neanderthals?

The Mystic (in a joke (?) in comments) raises a question I've actually wondered about before, namely: is it racist to look down on Neanderthals? (Cro-Magnons? Australopithecines? Extraterrestrials? Androids? Robots?)


Blogger Jim Bales said...

Racist? of course not.

Speciesist? Absolutely!

(Oh my. I thought I was making a joke. Lo and behold the word "speciest" exists, and it means what you would think it means from this context!)

6:24 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Hmmm...aren't Neanderthals sometimes classified as being the same species? As us I mean? I sometimes see them referred to as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, anyway.

Actually, early in grad school, a vegetarian grad students called one of my arguments "speciesist". At first I thought she said "specious", and I was irked, then when she clarified, I was like "oh, well I'm cool with that."

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me a more relevant analogue of the question at hand would be to consider artificial intelligence (since this might actually become an issue). If/when we become capable of producing androids, etc. will it be immoral to treat/think of them as less than our equals? If so, why?

7:44 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Well, obviously I was joking, but that's kinda because I thought you were joking about deriding Neanderthals.

I do think that if you were to generalize about Neanderthals being stupid or incompetent, etc., that you would be demonstrating prejudice against them as a species (they are, in fact, a separate species. We are homo sapiens, subspecies sapiens, they are homo neanderthalensis). Of course, that's assuming that your derisions against them as a species are false. If you are somehow correct that they are all less intelligent and less capable than we, then it wouldn't be racist to point it out.

Then you'd just be an asshole.


I doubt they were in any significant way less intelligent or competent than we. Therefore, I would consider serious slights against them as a species to be analogous to racism, semantics aside.

10:19 PM  

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