Freedom is the right of all sentient beings
December 21, 2014 6:52 PM   Subscribe

An Argentina court has recognised an Orangutang as 'non-human person': “This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories.” - A similar case regarding a chimpanzee in New York was recently thrown out of court.
posted by Artw (71 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
9622ysterical!

Sorry artw
This is fascinating.
posted by clavdivs at 6:59 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Animal rights campaigners filed a habeas corpus petition – a document more typically used to challenge the legality of a person’s detention..."

People file court petition for
Orangutan
Court responds.
Simplistically brillant.
posted by clavdivs at 7:06 PM on December 21, 2014


Interesting. Next up dolphins and whales?
posted by iamfantastikate at 7:15 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can they walk into court?
posted by clavdivs at 7:18 PM on December 21, 2014


YAY!
posted by xarnop at 7:24 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


...deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories

and farms?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:28 PM on December 21, 2014


Really, this is opening a whole can of worms as far as the rights of nonhuman sentients go. Could they have the right to vote? To own property? If so, who would manage those rights for them?
posted by happyroach at 7:29 PM on December 21, 2014


Peace and love and univeral rights to all my spindle neuron family. Let's eat the rest!
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:29 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow! Go Argentina! That's amazing!
posted by jeffburdges at 7:29 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


We should extend human rights to apes sooner rather than later. We'll posses the ability to build electronic brains with varying degrees of humanity soon enough, way better that we go in with these legal precedents for great apes when our military wants to train human-ish level AIs to be psychopaths.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:35 PM on December 21, 2014 [13 favorites]


What is the opinion of the apes on the rightful ownership of the Malvinas/Falklands?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:36 PM on December 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ook.
posted by dazed_one at 7:40 PM on December 21, 2014 [24 favorites]


We are already putting human brain cells in mice and who knows what else. God we're a fucking awful species.
posted by xarnop at 7:45 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]




There's good too- I mean some humans are very peaceful and kind and show more capacity for empathy than many others-- it's just some of us who will go out of their way to justify cruelty when there is really no urgent life or death issue to torture another living being and the complacency and support of the more moderate seems like it sometimes counteracts all that good in big ways.
posted by xarnop at 7:48 PM on December 21, 2014


xarnop, why does specifically putting human brain cells in mice make us an awful species?
posted by PlasticSupernova at 7:51 PM on December 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


Do you really see no potentially for suffering involved?
posted by xarnop at 7:52 PM on December 21, 2014


why does specifically putting human brain cells in mice make us an awful species?

The lack of consent from the mice.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:54 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine who works in animal research was talking about she wonders whether people doing research to "help human beings" being put through a process of learning to have no empathy whatsoever for the torture of animals seems harmful. After all, kids who torture animals tend to turn out to be really great at empathy for humans... right?
posted by xarnop at 7:55 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


And, now we are experimenting on human brain cells- what makes us sentient? So we are going to make mice more human and then (in the experiment they did this on-- ) SHOCK THEM A LOT to see if they are more intelligent or more traumatized now?

That is what we do to OUR OWN cells.

Torturing animals makes us more numb to human suffering, not the other way around.
posted by xarnop at 7:57 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


We've tested drugs on mice for years with the intent of alleviating the suffering of humans (excepting research on cosmetics, etc.). I'm just not sure why you put a spotlight on implanting human neurons.

By the way, I say this as someone who's planning to go into neuroscience research and has some real internal reservations about research on mammals.
posted by PlasticSupernova at 7:58 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a slippery slope argument to be made against this sort of thing, but I don't think the slope needs to be that slippery. I think some reasonable threshold for sentience and intelligence could be set that could grant certain rights to dolphins and chimps that doesn't apply to, say cats or gerbils.

The problem i really see with it is how do you know what a non-communicative sentient being wants or deserves. I think it's actually a similar sort of problem as people in vegetative states and the rights of young children.
posted by empath at 7:59 PM on December 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sorry, didn't see your comment before I posted. I would guess that it takes more than substituting mouse cells for human cells to make a mouse sentient. But I'd have to see what you're referencing.

EDIT: And by sentient, of course, I mean having a human-like experience as you describe it.
posted by PlasticSupernova at 8:00 PM on December 21, 2014


I am assuming this is a viral marketing campaign for the next Planet of the Apes movie.
posted by notme at 8:00 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


The lack of consent from the mice.

Is the problem that they don't consent, or that they can't?
posted by graphnerd at 8:01 PM on December 21, 2014


Is the problem that they don't consent, or that they can't?

Well, both. I mean, if they could, and they did, then there wouldn't be a problem.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 8:03 PM on December 21, 2014


happyroach: "Really, this is opening a whole can of worms as far as the rights of nonhuman sentients go. Could they have the right to vote? To own property?"

No, just like children don't have those rights, but are still people.

Generally, animals rights philosophers who are hugely in favor of animal rights suggest that animals should have rights specific to that animal's needs -- so cows, for example, should have a "right to graze" (rather than be locked in a feedlot) but not a "right to vote" because what would a cow do with a right to vote?

When it comes to "non-human people," the most popular view marks out a handful of species -- typically Great Apes, elephants, dolphins (and maybe other cetaceans), dogs, and I want to say pigs? -- who have complex enough emotional lives and are sentient in a way humans recognize as similar to us, that we ought to give them more rights and protection than we give "mere" food animals (or wild animals). This might include keeping family groups together unless breaking them up is unavoidable; only keeping in captivity individuals who can't survive in the wild (for apes, elephants, and cetaceans; not dogs or pigs); protecting habitat; giving animals a legal right to consideration in discussion about the future of property development that affects their habitat or migration; and so on. High on the list is whether apes, cetaceans, and elephants should be kept in zoos -- would you keep humans in a zoo? -- or forced to perform for humans. (Dogs and pigs are different, as they're domesticated species.)

I taught a unit on this for several years in a philosophy 101 course, and in terms of the "right to vote," I gradually came to think the most practical position, in terms of a right to vote, was that if an animal asked for it, we should probably give it to them. When the dolphins start swimming up to the dolphin iPad and nosing out, "Hey Florida can we pay taxes and also vote for governor?" THE DOLPHINS NEED TO VOTE NOW. Also works with superintelligent aliens who take up residence in your state!

(This was actually my favorite unit to teach and I am delighted to GO ON AT LENGTH with hypotheticals about it.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:06 PM on December 21, 2014 [62 favorites]


who have complex enough emotional lives and are sentient in a way humans recognize as similar to us

But why is our experiential recognition the benchmark? It seems so arrogant.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 8:13 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Relevant episode of the Criminal podcast on medieval animal rights: Animal Instincts
posted by Going To Maine at 8:13 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


PS, I always started this unit by making my students watch The Measure of a Man from Star Trek: The Next Generation as a framing device to start them thinking about it. Here's a clip of the trial. Picard examines whether Data is a person. Jump ahead to 7:50 to the judge's decision.
PHILLIPA: It sits there looking at me, and I don't know what it is. This case has dealt with metaphysics, with questions best left to saints and philosophers. I'm neither competent nor qualified to answer those. I've got to make a ruling, to try to speak to the future. Is Data a machine? Yes. Is he the property of Starfleet? No. We have all been dancing around the basic issue. Does Data have a soul? I don't know that he has. I don't know that I have. But I have got to give him the freedom to explore that question himself. It is the ruling of this court that Lieutenant Commander Data has the freedom to choose.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:14 PM on December 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


who have complex enough emotional lives and are sentient in a way humans recognize as similar to us

But why is our experiential recognition the benchmark? It seems so arrogant.


At a certain point, experiential recognition is all you've got. (Although, as a counterpoint, Douglas Adams gets incredibly mad at himself in Last Chance To See when he anthropomorphizes a gorilla, because intellectually he knows that he has no idea what it's thinking even though, emotionally, he's getting messages from its face.)
posted by Going To Maine at 8:18 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Higher primates are cannibals, and Orangutangs are no exception. If they're people, then they can be tried for murder. A great way to get them out of the way of land development. Or in cages for our purposes.
posted by clarknova at 8:21 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think on some level, in order to obtain what we consider now to be human rights, you need to be able to fight for them and advocate for them yourself. I don't think any group has ever been handed their rights, it's always been a struggle. The fact that animals (and children) can't and won't ever be able to take their rights by force is going to limit how far this sort of thing will go.
posted by empath at 8:22 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


But why is our experiential recognition the benchmark? It seems so arrogant.

It seems like a probability thing. Since we're certain about our own emotional experiences, it makes us a lot more likely to be correct about our assumptions about creatures more similar to us than those more different to us. A fly might have a valuable emotional experience, but since the biology and behavior of a fly is so different from that of a human, there is less of a reason for us to assume that it has wants and needs similar to our own.
posted by PlasticSupernova at 8:22 PM on December 21, 2014


Sounds like a fun class, Eyebrows. :)

I've always said I'm in the animals need more rights but not necessarily human rights camp. When vegans make comparisons to human slavery or the Holocaust in regards to animal agriculture it gives me pause. I still feel like there is something fundamentally different in humans but I've never really found a good way to express that without it just being an emotional appeal. I wouldn't mind a class that helped guide me in ways to develop my thoughts on animal rights into something more rational.

At the same time, I'm outraged and horrified at how we treat animals and I can understand why people use the strongest language they can. At least one prominent person who makes the comparison is a Holocaust survivor himself, so it's not exactly my place to tell him what to think on that.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:28 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


paleyellowwithorange: "But why is our experiential recognition the benchmark?"

It's the best we've got. If a species can't communicate with us that it's sentient ... we won't ever know.

I mean, look, we're animals who force our compatriots to sit in philosophy classes to think about these issues. We're trying! We really are! (I always reminded my students that if they were a DUMBER sort of monkey, they wouldn't have to be in philosophy class.) But if a species is sentient in a way we CAN'T recognize ... we can't recognize it! We have gradually moved to recognize that all (normal, adult) humans are sentient (or maybe conscious or self-aware is a better term, I don't know, argue amongst yourselves, pick a definition arguendo), to realizing at least some other mammals are probably sentient, to the current realization that even some invertebrates (octopodes) are likely sentient in some degree. We're working hard at this question and trying to be better! But we don't know what we don't know.

Which isn't to say we should say "Yay sentient beings, SUCK IT non-sentient beings!" We should do well on animal welfare REGARDLESS of whether a species is sentient or not. But we should consider differently a mouse or a dog or an orangutan. A mouse deserves a painless death when it's getting into your food stores (and to be LEFT ALONE if it's not bothering anybody!). A dog deserves veterinary care and, when it is old and sick, a careful consideration of its quality of life when it's time to euthanize. An orangutan probably deserves not just veterinary care when it is old and sick, not just a consideration of its quality of life, but a consideration of what the orangutan probably thinks about its own quality of life. The orangutan isn't quite like grandma, who let you know before she got sick what she would want when she was old and sick and unable to communicate, but the orangutan clearly understands more of its own lifecycle than a dog can, and our consideration of his care should take into account more things that we'd consider with grandma than a dog's care would.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:37 PM on December 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


I find this fascinating. Did our ancestors deserve rights? Our grandparents? Our great grandparents? What about our great grandparents ^ 100000 who might have looked and behaved like Orangutans? Did someone exist between us and them who would have deserved the full slate of "human rights" by our modern measure while his or her parents would not?
posted by Poldo at 8:47 PM on December 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


Most actual human beings on earth today don't have what most of us on this website would consider to be human rights, I think.
posted by empath at 8:51 PM on December 21, 2014 [13 favorites]


It's almost like you want some kind of Bodhisattva's understanding of the issue, Poldo.
posted by clarknova at 8:52 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ain't nothing wrong with experimenting on human brain cells in either a petri dish or a mouse, xarnop. Apes, dolphins, whales, and elephants all pass the mirror test, which suggests quite substantial self-awareness, but a mouse won't even if it's neurons were mostly human. Sentience is not a property of genetics, cells, etc., but of a whole being.

We're not going to directly save ourselves form accidentally killing a great scientist, etc. by recognizing great apes' sentience and according them basic human rights. We might however increase the likely hood that more humans enjoy those basic human rights, which should create some great scientists, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:25 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Generally, animals rights philosophers who are hugely in favor of animal rights suggest that animals should have rights specific to that animal's needs -- so cows, for example, should have a "right to graze" (rather than be locked in a feedlot) but not a "right to vote" because what would a cow do with a right to vote?

I suspect maybe a cow with the right to vote would vote against being eaten. Or maybe just eat those Holsteins. Fucking Holsteins!

But seriously, philosophical questions aside, the higher higher degree of autonomy and rights is still the hands of humans. Aside from the possibilities of corruption, this is still making the welfare of animals the responsibility of humans, so on a fundamental level I'm not seeing the difference.

Really, until some animal species gets control of nuclear weapons, their destiny is still in human hands. So the real question is, how well will we treat them?
posted by happyroach at 9:29 PM on December 21, 2014


This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories

Yeah. Opens the way in Argentina, known for primates.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:40 PM on December 21, 2014


because what would a cow do with a right to vote?

No pasteurization without representation?
posted by hal_c_on at 9:43 PM on December 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Paging Dr. Zaius, Dr's Cornelius, Dr Zaius."
posted by clavdivs at 9:44 PM on December 21, 2014


"I suspect maybe a cow with the right to vote would vote against being eaten. Or maybe just eat those Holsteins. Fucking Holsteins!"

But you can't tip a Holstein.
posted by clavdivs at 9:47 PM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Most actual human beings on earth today don't have what most of us on this website would consider to be human rights, I think.

There are untold millions of us whose survival is predicated on pleasing others. Not necessarily providing them value, but merely making them feel good about power and position.

Certainly this is what animals in a zoo do for the human visitors.

Forget Orangutangs. You or I don't qualify as people either. Not until this aspect of the human condition has been bred out of our species.
posted by clarknova at 9:53 PM on December 21, 2014


At a certain point, experiential recognition is all you've got.

I don't see why we can't make a cognitive step beyond simply judging other animals based on their similarities to us. Just because a mouse or a fly (or a chicken or a cow) is not at all like us or orangutans, why do they have to be second-class inhabitants of this space we share? Why can't they have the same rights to life as we seek for ourselves (i.e. undisturbed by humans as much as possible)?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:16 PM on December 21, 2014


It's okay to eat fish 'cause they don't have any feelings.
posted by clarknova at 10:23 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just as mosquitos would have a difficult time never harming humans while living their lives, we would have a difficult time never harming any other living being while living our lives. We take up physical space on this planet; by that action alone, we affect the other beings who live here. I don't think that's inherently immoral.

However, we could do a hell of a lot better than we do. Unlike mosquitos, we can think about the consequences of our actions.

In Always Coming Home, Ursula LeGuin posits a society that recognizes "people" with the subsets "human" and "animal." They still eat meat and squash bugs who bite them, but they do so in a way that recognizes that each death has significance. There are rules about how to kill and when to kill an animal for food or self-protection, aimed at preventing suffering while allowing humans to have what they need. Of course, she didn't have any primates in her particular hypothetical society, but I think they would fall under "animal people whom you do not eat or harm."

As inhabitants of this planet, I don't think we can aim for no impact, even in a utopia. But we can aim for finding a reasonable amount of room to take up, while doing minimal harm and allowing other species to flourish when possible. All of which would be massive improvements to what we are doing now.

All of which to say, if giving orangutans rights would help to protect them, I am for it. I don't really foresee it going "too far," because I don't think orangutans have the capability to abuse their rights.
posted by emjaybee at 10:29 PM on December 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Excellent news. Huzzah!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:44 PM on December 21, 2014


Really, this is opening a whole can of worms as far as the rights of nonhuman sentients go. Could they have the right to vote? To own property?

I see you haven't met my neighbours.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


The worms deserve freedom from the can anyway.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:34 PM on December 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


clarknova: "It's almost like you want some kind of Bodhisattva's understanding of the issue, Poldo."

No, it seems more like pondering the poisoned arrow.
posted by Lexica at 12:01 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


The human definition of sentient is that you feel regret when you kill it.
posted by vapidave at 12:19 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't really foresee it going "too far," because I don't think orangutans have the capability to abuse their rights.

Even if they could, just imagine the look an orangutan would give a human trying to lecture it about responsibility and the tragedy of the commons and so on.
posted by No-sword at 1:17 AM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Speaking as a monkey, I applaud this decision.
posted by Flunkie at 5:05 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


> Did someone exist between us and them who would have deserved the full slate of "human
> rights" by our modern measure while his or her parents would not?

chronospecies


> It's almost like you want some kind of Bodhisattva's understanding of the issue, Poldo.

Well, they ruined the best-known koan ("What is the sound of one hand clapping?") when they gave Henry Kissinger the Peace Prize. Poldo's Puzzle would probably do the same job (that being to turn the brain to rice pudding and make the sucker STFU.)
posted by jfuller at 6:49 AM on December 22, 2014


I was down at the lake and I saw a dragonfly flying around- I called to it and asked it to come see me (as I do all nonthreatening animals to which most ignore me but occasionally some seem interested).. but it came and hovered right beside me. I said, "come sit on my finger" and I held my finger out. It sat on my finger. We sat there together a long while, my son was throwing rocks in the lake. My so became interested and wanted the dragonfly to befriend him too but as a kid he wriggles and talks loudly and the dragonfly flew a bit away but was still watching. I got my son still and said, "Come here little dragonfly! My son wants you to sit on his finger too!"

The dragonfly came and sat on his finger. Obviously it could all be chance. However looking at dragonfly intelligence, they actually have some pretty amazing capacities.

And we have proven that it is not size itself that generates sentience, meaning a small blob or possibly even a single neuron could potentially experience itself. To test on them knowing that is at least a possibly, is still a wreckless and uncaring decision because it means considering the possibility is irrelevant. And if there were animals more intelligent than we realize, what good would it do them to show us that intelligence? All we'll do with that knowledge is lock them in cages and shock them and torture them to "understand" their intelligence better, eventually chopping them up to measure their brain weights or whatever else. I'm not going to say that humans win the prize for members that are the most cruel beasts, but some of our members and those that support their ideologies are in the running for bringing unnecessary suffering to innocent beings "just to see what happens" and because "progress".

I respect that many are driven by trying to come with actually cures for life threatening diseases and if you can bring up a very specific life saving reason that it is URGENT that terrible suffering be caused to save a human or many humans life (such as food source for the hungry, direct medical cure for the dying) I am much more compelled to understand than when it's "What happens when she shock this creature? And when we do it again? And again? This torture is showing interesting things about how animals react to being tortured. Fascinating, let's kill all of them now and look at their organs."

We are in a suffering world, and I don't deny there are reasons to cause harm to other beings that are fairly compelling, but animal research is really not required to uphold the compelling standards I would like to see of a life threatening situation being solved. We COULD solve a lot of problems by doing horrific testing on prisoners or the poor (and already ethically we go too far in both these realms often) and yet is the torture worth it? We HAVE erred grotesquely in this area in how we have treated humans, orphans, minority races, the poor-- all sorts of unethical and wreckless experiments carried out on them "for the greater good". And they probably did yield at least a bit of actual benefit.

I don't think that scientists who already feel comfortable torturing or killing animals for the greater good, should be in charge of making decisions about what is or is not ethical treatment or worthy cause. I don't think we even understand where our own sentience lies (in brain cells, in neurons? There are nerve cells throughout the body could there be more sentience throughout the body than we give credit?) I also think our cruel treatment of cells themselves andinability to see them as sensing beings limits our capacity to heal the human body and to actually provide the cells with environments that support and help the cells, tissues and organs thrive and function in harmony.
posted by xarnop at 7:48 AM on December 22, 2014


what would a cow do with a right to vote?

Elect Democrats, of course.

RIMSHOT

(Sorry, couldn't resist. For the record, I'm independent. Fill in blank with party of your choice.)
posted by IndigoJones at 7:53 AM on December 22, 2014


So what about plants?
posted by I-baLL at 8:42 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


For plants we learn to eat like jainists, eat the fruit, prune the leaves at the bottom ready to go so the plant flourishes and we get food. Pinch a few tips off the tops of herbs and they grow back more fully. And stop doing mean tests on them.

Granted-- we are HERE. (Arrow points at humanity at a point in time where there is a lot of suffering and we causing a lot of harm and disconnect from the feeling nature of living beings)-- and growth will happen as it's able- so I am in favor of understanding how we got here and that change is hard and may take time, but sometimes we are ready to push ourselves a bit rather than cling to inertia.

In many ways, a lot of the harmful decisions we made, DID make sense through many of the traumatic circumstances humans have endured and I respect that, there have been times lightyears more traumatic for human beings in general than we can imagine that humans endured (often as our early ancestors that has meant turning to cannabalism and horrible crap that I am glad our species is largely far away from at present) But I think at this point we are perfectly capable of greater awareness and empathy and even our science itself is often showing what our hearts should have considered to begin with.
posted by xarnop at 8:53 AM on December 22, 2014


That makes me want to go eat a steak.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:56 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Using the language of rights for creatures that cannot claim or assert their rights doesn't make any sense to me. It's fine to make laws saying that animals should be decently treated, but that shouldn't be dressed up as rights.

If we do get into the habit of equating decent treatment with rights it opens a path towards undermining real rights. When I try to assert my real right to x the court will just say, hey, we think you're being treated OK by and large, so you have no case.

Look at what's happened with the orang. Has he been set free? No, he's been transferred to a sanctuary. Can he leave? No. If I bring another habeas corpus case on his behalf, will he be set free? I don't think so. He has no rights.
posted by Segundus at 2:51 AM on December 23, 2014


xarnop: We are already putting human brain cells in mice and who knows what else. God we're a fucking awful species.
Yeah, because... well, because... because it's WRONG! Also, I saw this 1957 movie called The Mouse Brain That Ate Chicago, and it ended really bad!
posted by IAmBroom at 10:27 AM on December 23, 2014


Yeah, because... well, because... because it's WRONG! Also, I saw this 1957 movie called The Mouse Brain That Ate Chicago, and it ended really bad!

It's possible to disagree without being insulting, btw. You might consider trying it.
posted by Lexica at 2:03 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is definitely a turn in the right direction.
posted by homunculus at 6:00 PM on December 23, 2014


Segundus: "Using the language of rights for creatures that cannot claim or assert their rights doesn't make any sense to me." This doesn't work as a condition for recognition of person-ness. A human infant is an example of a creature that cannot claim or assert its rights. Many scientists who study the issue would say that a grown ape (or dolphin, or dog, or whatever) is more sentient than than a human baby, yet we have no trouble recognizing that a baby is entitled to the protections of personhood. If we're going to draw a line between humans and other animals, we have to draw it somewhere else.
posted by Corvid at 9:00 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's okay to eat fish 'cause they don't have any feelings.

So can I eat Republicans?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:21 AM on December 24, 2014


It's okay to eat fish 'cause they don't have any feelings.

It's true. Our emotional landscape is as flat as water on a plate.

Republican

That's hurtful.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:23 AM on December 24, 2014


We've all seen Boenher cry.
posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on December 24, 2014


In practice, we've become kinder, more humane, etc. as we've progressively adopted a more universalist, consequentialist, utilitarian, etc. basis for our ethics, morality, etc., Segundus, simply because said ethical system allow less room for self-serving bullshit.

It's fine if an ethical system has flaws, well all past ones did too, but you've made real progress once you eliminate self-serving bullshit like "I've the right to kill you because imaginary sky parent, my badge, the law, my economic beliefs, etc. said so."

And voting is a non-issues since we do not grant children the right to vote either.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:45 PM on December 24, 2014


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