THE WORLD'S richest woman learns that trusted chimpanzees in a made-to-order animal factory are treated as slaves, and once past their usefulness on the production line are ground into dog food. She adopts an aging chimp named Jerry, and on his behalf files suit to establish his "humanity."
The grounds? Primarily that he can make literal and moral judgments, long deemed the separator between men and beasts. Given Jerry's demonstrated ability to distinguish between right and wrong, the court judges Jerry to be a man - thereby saving him from the grinder.
In today's real world, Heinlein's science-fiction queries apply with even greater force.
Do traditional man-beast distinctions still apply? What is an animal and what a man? What are our humanity-related obligations to these chimps, etc.? Do chimps have rights - and if so, what sort?
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