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← Law could bury ancient secrets for ever

opposablethumbs's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by opposablethumbs

Comment 29 by Marcus Small

I think that their intentions, insofar as they can be known or deduced, only matter to the extent that disregarding or respecting them has the power to help or harm the living. So I would of course agree that it's important that we "respect" those of the dead who have living descendants with feelings to be hurt (i.e. we're really respecting the living descendants here). But I don't see why any one group of distant descendants (which eventually gets to include all of us anyway) should have some special veto on studying ancient human remains. (I do realise you weren't arguing for this yourself, though).

So I think it really depends on whether a course of action helps or harms the living (though like most people, I think, I entangle motives and feelings when it comes to the recently dead) - and at what point does a genuine personal connection with the dead become woo. If a group of people have strong feelings about some ancient human remains, does that make those feelings sacrosanct? If we agree that they are, and that they override the importance of research, say, then perhaps we should agree that other strong feelings are equally sacrosanct and that they override the importance of not having to veil our faces in public or whatever else is upsetting someone. Sorry, I really haven't put that as clearly as I would like - in too much of a hurry! - but I hope it's not completely incoherent! :-)

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 16:35:18 UTC | #587920