Everyone's favourite subject it seems... well the sex part anyway. I am curious as to people's morals surrounding interspecies sex.
Here is my opinion: Sex is ok between any two (or more) consenting beings. The definition of consenting is important here. I think consenting implies that the being fully understands the meaning and intimacy of sex. Using this definition precludes rape, paedophilia, and beastiality but one problem I have found is sex between other life forms such as between two dogs. One thing that this does allow for is future speciation in humans and also the possibility of extraterrestial life when and if we ever contact it.
What is your opinion?
While to an extent I agree with your opinion about consenting sentient beings, sentience is a concept that hasn't fully been hashed out and there is still debate about what that means exactly. Most people still consider people with severe mental handicaps sentient yet even when they consent to sexual activity questions are raised about how informed their consent actually is. Exploitation is a perpetual consideration and much of this stems from how sexual activity is framed within our culture and the cultures of our species globally. Suppose that science progresses to the point where we can determine that the pygmy chimpanzee is a sentient being. What are we to make of their highly sexualized culture? If you are unfamiliar with the pygmy chimp (bonobo) I suggest you read up on their behaviors. Sexual activity is infused into practically every facet of their social interactions. The very young, old, male, female, in every imaginable combination have been observed engaging in sexual activity. It is the single most significant bonding behavior in that species.
When you refer to the "meaning and intimacy of sex" you are no doubt referring to the meaning as defined by our culture, not just our species. The meaning of sex that we recognize isn't even shared across the board for our own species. The Yanomami tribe certainly do not share our meaning when we speak of sex. I'm not trying to suggest that moral attitudes toward sex are entirely culturally relative but then I am not stating conclusively that they aren't to a large degree. I am confident that if we were to determine by some future means that chimps are sentient (to our satisfaction) then we would find dolphins of many species to be as well. Dolphins have been observed numerous times engaging in interspecies sex and even sharing social responsibilities such as child care between species.
That brings me to my last observation. The part about interspecies sex allowing for future speciation in humans doesn't make any sense from a biological standpoint. Speciation by hybridization, while common in plants, is almost non-existent in animals and when it occurs it only happens between extremely closely related species, arguably, in most cases, not even seperate species at all but rather subspecies. Human beings have no surviving species close enough to hybridize with. Extraterrestrials would be as far removed genetically from a human as the average slime mold, more so in fact.
I find the question posed to be a very good one, however. It is one of those questions that may be so far ahead of its time that most people would find it ridiculous. Interracial breeding was considered ridiculous at one time. This question will undoubtedly be a much more difficult one to answer. Great thread.
The part about interspecies sex allowing for future speciation in humans doesn't make any sense from a biological standpoint.
Whoa, I didnt say that did I? ok it kinda sounds like I did... What I meant was, if another species of humans were to emerge, my opinion is that sex between different species would be ok as long as both were consenting and informed.