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“Human racism” refers to the attitudes of those who feel that the assignment of rights should be based on species, rather than personhood and traits such as intelligence and capacity to feel. Human-racists are unwilling to extend rights either to other existing animals, such as great apes, or new forms of life, such as robots, artificial intelligence, posthumans, or uplifted lifeforms. Standing in contrast to human racists are technoprogressives, transhumanists, and various other groups pushing for a non-anthropocentric understanding of ethics and rights.
Unlike human-racists, the Non-anthropocentric personhood ethics tradition of bioethics holds that some humans, such as fetuses or the brain-dead, are human but not persons, and therefore should not be assigned rights. For human-racists, fetuses and the brain-dead are vulnerable human beings facing slaughter. Non-anthropocentric personhood ethics uses the cognitive complexity of great apes and cetaceans to assign them moral status roughly equal to humans, whereas human-racists do not even consider such moral status worthy of consideration. Personhood-based rights value thought and feeling, as opposed to surface biological characteristics such as gender, genetics, race, or species.
It is through the increasing expansion and recognition of personhood and rights that women gained suffrage and African Americans gained freedom from slavery. Human-racists do not want to see the expansion of rights to reach beyond barriers of gender, race, origin, and belief continue beyond the species gap.
Human-racists oppose not only the extension of rights to other non-human persons, but also generally oppose the right to human enhancement. With the potential for life extension and Emerging technologies that offer ways to reach beyond traditional human limitations, human-racists often believe that such hubris goes against religious principles. For instance, in"Protecting the Endangered Human,” bioethicists George Annas and Lori Andrews argue against heritable genetic improvements. They advocate an international treaty making Germline genetic modification a"crime against humanity” and say that it could “alter the essence of humanity itself (and thus threaten to change the foundation of human rights) by taking human evolution into our own hands and directing it toward the development of a new species, sometimes termed the posthuman. Membership in the human species is central to the meaning and enforcement of human rights.”
Human-racists are uncomfortable with the emergence of other forms of intelligent life, or assigning non-humans rights, as they believe that doing so would undermine human dignity. George Annas and a range of bioluddites assert that people’s use of technologies of human enhancement on their own body and mind is not a right, but in fact a violation of human rights and “dignity.”