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In the show Battle Star Galactica there are, what can only be described as, creatures which are indistinguishable from humans in all respects save one. That one is, namely, that they are machine-based. It is the overarching theme of the show that there is a great debate over whether the Cylons are human or not. This is a category mistake. The real question is not whether they are human, for clearly they are not. They are not biologically human and did not arise in a biological fashion from humans. Humans beget humans, not cylons. What should be asked instead is whether the Cylons are persons. That is, are they the bearers of moral rights and obligations.

According to Alan Turing, if anything can pass the Turing Test then that thing for all points and purposes satisfies what we call consciousness and, as such, are like us in the “right way”. The right way is that, whether they look like us or not, they have that particular property which is for all we know special to human beings, namely personhood. Cylons obviously and easily pass the Turing Test. They are, therefore, bearers of the right sort of property to be included within the same class of entities which humans are (in virtue of that property). They are, therefore, persons and the bearers or moral rights and obligations. So, the war should just stop (at this point I have not finished watching all of the seasons, so please don’t spoil it).

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