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  Topic: Human rights for apes, Why not simian rights for humans too?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Amadan



Posts: 1332
Joined: Jan. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2008,12:11   

Has anyone seen this?

This looks like something dreamt up by
(a)  a bored columnist with an April Fools' deadline approaching
(b)  a creationist troll
( c) Fox News

The rationale (if that is the word) seems to be that Cheetah shares [insert some impressive number here] percent of his (her?) genome with us. Or vice versa.

To which I answer: So bloody what? Does that give apes rights? If the closeness of their relationship has moral implications (and I don't think it does), those implications affect how humans (who are moral actors) deal with apes (who ain't).

Now you could say that you can't enforce morality, only punish its breach, and that rights give a means to prevent those breaches happening. But in this case, that only adds up to allowing some third party to call in the animal welfare people. It hardly needs to be dignified with the term rights.

Anyone?


Buehler??

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"People are always looking for natural selection to generate random mutations" - Densye  4-4-2011
JoeG BTW dumbass- some variations help ensure reproductive fitness so they cannot be random wrt it.

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2008,13:14   

I think this whole thing of giving human rights to apes sets a dangeous precedent.



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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2008,14:05   

I heard a BBC interview with one of the supporters of the Spanish legislation on NPR last night.

While she did rely (on what sounded like an inaccurate, or at least outdated) percentage of genetic similarity between the other great apes and ourselves -- and I would agree that establishing some sort of a percentage test or cut-off for the extension of "human" rights has various practical and philosophical problems -- she did make a different point: the legislation does not, she claims, confer legal "humanity" on great apes.  Instead, it confers a limited sort of legal "person"-hood.

Lest you now shake your head -- or expectorate, or however your cultural subset of apes expresses dubiety -- and cluck about "those darn lawyers," please first consider that there is some support for making the "human being"/"legal person" distinction: corporations, for example, are legal "persons" (they can sue and be sued; own, sell, and lease, etc., real and personal property...), but are clearly not human beings.

The nice lady gave an example of the kind of conundrum in which apes currently find themselves.  An aging chimp (let's say -- I forget the actual species) has been humanely cared for by an organization in Austria for many years.  Now the organization has gone bankrupt and its assets -- including the chimp -- are being sold off, with at least the possibility that the chimp will wind up in the hands of less-than-ethical medical researchers (let's sidestep, for the moment, the question of whether it's ever justifiable to utilize great apes in medical testing by positing that there are such things as humane and ethical and well-regulated/ inspected medical research facilities...) or will simply fall out of adequate care altogether and wind up being a victim of (what we all might agree would be) abuse, neglect, or ...

Apparently there are donors willing to provide for the further care of this ape.  But they can't give the money to his current owner -- the bankrupt facility -- because that money would then fall into the hands of the creditors.  And they can't give the money to the ape itself, in part because the ape isn't a legal person -- not even a "person" with tightly-delimited rights (such as a mentally-challenged or senile or comatose person, who might well be the ward in a guardianship situation, lacking his or her own right to manage money, vote, own -- ahem! -- handguns, drive, etc. ...).

Now, one can of course imagine ingenious ways around the Austrian situation (though one doesn't know enough about Austrian bankruptcy and non-profit law to know if they would actually work...): perhaps the donors' funds could go to organize a non-profit with the purpose of purchasing and caring for the poor critter.  This might have the advantage of not leaving the (otherwise-innocent, so far as we know) creditors of the old facility out in the cold -- the new facility would simply purchase the ape from the creditors of the old.

But the lady's point -- to the extent that this pinhead grasped it -- is that there are always going to be situations without convenient legal workarounds, where the most direct and effective way to protect arguably-sentient (if still non-"human") creatures like these is to allow for them a limited sort of legal personhood, but not fully "human" legal status...

Below all this lies the moral argument, of course.  Even though we all might agree that the other great apes are not, in all respects, entitled to the full panoply of rights that us "human" great apes may be entitled to, may they not they share enough of key "human" qualities -- empathy, self-consciousness, family feeling, awareness of pain and loss, intelligence, capacity to communicate, etc. -- to be deserving of some more limited form of rights and protections?

Needless to say, we quickly come to the 'slippery slope' concern: where's it all gonna end.   Well, that's a better argument for a situation where there's an indivisible slope or spectrum -- one where there's no point on the gradient which can, in any sort of principled fashion, be distinguished from any other.  We might face such a situation if all of our pre-hominid brethren (or at least a representative and overlapping sampling), going right back to the common ancestor with chimps, were still alive and kicking...

But they're not.  (And some of you may not be persuaded there is any such ancestral kinship, but note that that doesn't necessarily resolve the other questions raised by our increasing grasp of the intellectual and emotional sophistication of some of our fellow travelers on the planet, even if they're not our close kin.)  So we've got humans.  And we've got some definable set of characteristics upon which to base a separate category of animals to whom we might accord a limited quasi-personhood.  And then we've got other animals who lack one or more of whatever that definable set of characteristics might turn out to be -- who we continue to assign to the traditional "feral" or "property" categories, about whom we might erect various overarching protections -- hunting laws; protections from certain kinds of abuse; ecological protections; import/export and trafficking laws; and so forth and so on.

Of course, once we start listing the characteristics for this intermediate status of not-human, but not mere-property kind of animal, we do risk a limited "slippery slope" problem: who else gets "in" to the charmed circle?

Some of the cetaceans?  The lesser apes?  Some of the "higher" non-ape primates?  Elephants?  Those raucous and annoying, but oh-so-clever corvids (ravens, crows, jays, magpies)?

Are we actually "evolved" enough to start concerning ourselves morally with "every crow that falls"?

And, as with every extension of "rights," how meaningful is it if it simply becomes another "unfunded mandate"?  A "right" that goes, all too often, unremedied?  A set of rights which we can't even meaningfully enforce or guarantee over wide swaths of the planet for our (arguably) even more-deserving fellow humans?  The old, why-should-we-spend-money-on-a-space-program-when ... problem, dressed up in King Kong habiliments.

No reason not to have some fun with this notion, but I don't find it an entirely silly one.

  
Kristine



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Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2008,14:36   

The Great Ape Project

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Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

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"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
Lou FCD



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2008,15:03   



Quote
killing time the nu-skool way, by damonabnormal


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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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J-Dog



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(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2008,15:34   

I'm am 100% for rights for all great apes.  If there are no rights for apes, then anyone can go and experiment on DaveScot, whether he approves it or not.

If we don't have his cheesy-poof-stained finger on the UD bannination button, the world as we know it could come crashing to a sudden halt.  I'm just not ready for that.

Casey Luskin is another total monkey boy that could be the focus of another evil darwinistic experiment.  Some professor at KSU, or an evil, mad chemist in the UK for example, could try to get him to grow a new set of gonads, to replace the ones he either lost or had removed.

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Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

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Steviepinhead



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2008,15:54   

And then there's our current president.

Where's he gonna be once executive privilege expires, without rights for great apes...

Well, he may need a waiver to even make the cut, but still.

  
Amadan



Posts: 1332
Joined: Jan. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: June 26 2008,18:04   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ June 26 2008,15:54)
And then there's our current president.

Where's he gonna be once executive privilege expires, without rights for great apes...

Well, he may need a waiver to even make the cut, but still.

Gotta agree, it's a close thing



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"People are always looking for natural selection to generate random mutations" - Densye  4-4-2011
JoeG BTW dumbass- some variations help ensure reproductive fitness so they cannot be random wrt it.

   
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 27 2008,23:00   

Quote (Amadan @ June 26 2008,10:11)
The rationale (if that is the word) seems to be that Cheetah shares [insert some impressive number here] percent of his (her?) genome with us. Or vice versa.

Not merely genetic similarity, but also their ability to experience a range of complex emotions.  From the article:
Quote
The project was started by the philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri, who argued that the ape is the closest genetic relative to humans – that it displays emotions such as love, fear, anxiety and jealousy – and should be protected by similar laws.

To me the latter seems far more important than genetic similarity.
Quote
To which I answer: So bloody what? Does that give apes rights? If the closeness of their relationship has moral implications (and I don't think it does), those implications affect how humans (who are moral actors) deal with apes (who ain't).

We confer rights on humans who are not moral actors (infants, the severely mentally ill, etc.).  If it's legitimate to grant rights to humans who haven't "earned" them through moral agenthood, why should apes be required to "earn" them this way?
Quote
Now you could say that you can't enforce morality, only punish its breach, and that rights give a means to prevent those breaches happening. But in this case, that only adds up to allowing some third party to call in the animal welfare people. It hardly needs to be dignified with the term rights.

Amplifying on the point I made above, does that mean that you think that infants should not have rights?  They are utterly dependent on third parties to defend their rights, just as apes would be.

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And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
Quidam



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Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2008,08:02   

This is not about Human Rights for apes.  No one is proposing that apes should be fully protected by the International Human Rights laws.

It's about giving apes more rights than other animals (which also have rights).

All of these rights are 'human rights' in that we demand them for ourselves.  Apes get a subset, other animals get a subset of that.

We classify animals on their cognitive capacity and ability to feel pain, so that it is acceptable to boil a lobster alive but not a dog; catch fish with a hook but not deer.  

This legislation limits some of the things we can do to apes as a result of the increasing awareness and understanding of their similarity in thought processes to us.

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The organized fossils ... and their localities also, may be understood by all, even the most illiterate. William Smith, Strata. 1816

  
keiths



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2008,16:42   

Hey Lou (FCD),

I think you accidentally moved a couple of comments from this thread to the Bathroom Wall:

skeptic

keiths

Could you move them back?

Thanks,
keiths

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And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
Amadan



Posts: 1332
Joined: Jan. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2008,17:05   

Quote (keiths @ June 27 2008,23:00)
 
       
Quote
The project was started by the philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri, who argued that the ape is the closest genetic relative to humans – that it displays emotions such as love, fear, anxiety and jealousy – and should be protected by similar laws.

To me the latter seems far more important than genetic similarity.

Is it wrong to treat apes in a way that elicits negative emotions recognisably similar to human ones because "it hurts their feelings" (i.e. for much the same reason that it's wrong to cause them in humans), or simply because the similarity provokes an anthropomorphic response in us humans? Right and wrong (in their moral senses) are not useful measures of apes' behaviour. They apply only to human actions. We condemn the man who beats his dog for a variety of reasons, some rational and some aesthetic, but mainly because cruelty to animals is so easily extended to people as well.
   
Quote
We confer rights on humans who are not moral actors (infants, the severely mentally ill, etc.).  If it's legitimate to grant rights to humans who haven't "earned" them through moral agenthood, why should apes be required to "earn" them this way?

Snip
   
Quote
Amplifying on the point I made above, does that mean that you think that infants should not have rights? They are utterly dependent on third parties to defend their rights, just as apes would be.

There's an important distinction, namely that infants and the incapacitated are recognised as human persons. Rights are sometimes ascribed to non-human persons (e.g. corporations), but I think that's at best a loose use of terminology, and at worst a debasement of the idea of rights. (I'm thinking here specifically of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad) Even in those cases however, the non-human person acts in every way through human agency, and whatever benefit the right confers is ultimately enjoyed by human persons.

It is helpful to think of rights as a type of property. We ascribe those properties to humans mainly (in my opinion) because we would want them for ourselves if or when we find ourselves in similar circumstances. That's why I think there's a category error in talking about rights for animals. Unless Hovind is right about genetic degradation, I'm unlikely to wake up as a gorilla.

Of course, I shouldn't be too rationalistic about it: I'm pretty sure that my dog expects people to treat him well in much the same way that I expect people to treat me well. Those emotions and cognitive faculties evolved for much the same reasons. (Howqever, when I say "Bad Dog!" he just wags the tail a bit faster.)

The REAL question is whether pasta has rights.

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"People are always looking for natural selection to generate random mutations" - Densye  4-4-2011
JoeG BTW dumbass- some variations help ensure reproductive fitness so they cannot be random wrt it.

   
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2008,18:07   

skeptic asks:
Quote
but does that permanently disabled person actually have rights,

Sure.  He or she has the right to live, for example.  
Quote
How do we know what the ape wants?  Who can truly speak for the ape?  ...Any decision we make on their behalf is arbitrary and points to our wants and not theirs.

Over-anthropomorphism is a danger that must be guarded against.  However, it's hardly "arbitrary" to think that an ape would want food, water, and humane living conditions, or that it would object to being vivisected!
Quote
Also, how do we construct a sliding scale of rights on different animals?  Genetically, or on popularity?

Neither, in my opinion. To me, the capacities for experiencing pleasure and suffering are what grant moral significance to an entity.

I don't worry about whether we've violated the rights of a car by dismantling it in a junkyard.  I do object if someone nails a dog's paws to a table and dissects it without anesthesia.  The crucial difference is the dog's ability to suffer, not its popularity or its genetic similarity to humans.      
Quote
I'd come to blows over cruelty to a pet dog and yet I participated in hundreds of beagle necropsies, are the two equal?

No.  A necropsy, by definition, involves a dead animal which is incapable of suffering.  How can you be cruel to a dead beagle?  What matters is what happens to the beagle before death.  
Quote
Who gets to make this determinations?

Society as a whole, via our governments and via our collective moral sensibilities.

I see this as an inevitable next step in the widening of our sphere of moral concerns.  When we lived in tribes, the guys in the next tribe were less than human.  Then we learned that okay,  the guys in the next tribe were human after all, but that the folks on the other side of the mountains were subhuman and unworthy of moral concern.  Then it was those of different religions, different nationalities, different races, or different sexual orientations.  Now we're coming to a consensus that all people are morally significant.  It only makes sense that we would ask ourselves whether the boundary should remain there or be extended further, and on what basis.

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And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2008,18:59   

Quote (Amadan @ June 28 2008,15:05)
 Is it wrong to treat apes in a way that elicits negative emotions recognisably similar to human ones because "it hurts their feelings" (i.e. for much the same reason that it's wrong to cause them in humans), or simply because the similarity provokes an anthropomorphic response in us humans?

The former.  (And I would substitute "it causes suffering" for "it hurts their feelings".  We're not merely talking about miffed apes here.)
Quote
Right and wrong (in their moral senses) are not useful measures of apes' behaviour. They apply only to human actions.

We're talking about rights, not responsibilities.  If a human is incapable of distinguishing right from wrong (due to severe mental retardation, for example) we don't consider him morally responsible for what he does.  The same reasoning applies to apes.

See this old discussion at Uncommon Descent: Why No Pet Penitentiaries?
Quote
We condemn the man who beats his dog for a variety of reasons, some rational and some aesthetic, but mainly because cruelty to animals is so easily extended to people as well.

I disagree.  Most of us would regard dog-beating as wrong even if human-on-human violence or cruelty were nonexistent.
Quote
There's an important distinction, namely that infants and the incapacitated are recognised as human persons.

But then you're really just arguing that:

1. Only persons have rights.
2. All humans are persons.
3. Animals are not persons.
4. Therefore humans have rights and animals do not.

It's true if the premises are true, but where have you justified the premises?
Quote
It is helpful to think of rights as a type of property. We ascribe those properties to humans mainly (in my opinion) because we would want them for ourselves if or when we find ourselves in similar circumstances.

It's the Rawlsian "veil of ignorance" idea:  a system isn't just unless we would regard it as just before knowing the role we were to play in it.  A slaveowner might claim that slavery is just, but would he do so if he had to make that judgment before knowing whether he was going to be born as a slaveowner or as a slave?
Quote
That's why I think there's a category error in talking about rights for animals. Unless Hovind is right about genetic degradation, I'm unlikely to wake up as a gorilla.

It's not a question of what is likely.  You're also unlikely to wake up as a refugee in Darfur tomorrow, but that doesn't mean that the plight of those refugees isn't a moral issue.

Again, the Rawlsian approach is appropriate here:  What sort of a system would you consider to be fair, if you had to decide this before knowing whether you would be born as a human or as an ape?
Quote
The REAL question is whether pasta has rights.

Anything formed in the image of His Noodliness the FSM has rights.  Obviously.

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And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2008,20:37   

Quote (keiths @ June 28 2008,17:42)
Hey Lou (FCD),

I think you accidentally moved a couple of comments from this thread to the Bathroom Wall:

skeptic

keiths

Could you move them back?

Thanks,
keiths

It was not an accident.  Skeptic is confined to the wall, though the Ftk AutoFlush 2000 seems to be on the fritz.  He knows this and he's not helping his case with his repeated derailing asides and comments about moderation, which is exactly what put him in the toilet in the first place.

I moved subsequent comments that quoted or responded to him because they look dumb if the original is gone.

Good rule of thumb:

Never quote Skeptic.



 
Quote
The Shrine, by Travis S.


Edited by Lou FCD on June 28 2008,21:43

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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

Work-friendly photography
NSFW photography

   
keiths



Posts: 2041
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 28 2008,21:43   

Quote (Lou FCD @ June 28 2008,18:37)
It was not an accident.  Skeptic is confined to the wall, though the Ftk AutoFlush 2000 seems to be on the fritz.

I see.  And the Ftk AF 2000, when it's working right, does the flush before anyone on the intended thread sees the comment?

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And the set of natural numbers is also the set that starts at 0 and goes to the largest number.  -- Joe G

Please stop putting words into my mouth that don't belong there and thoughts into my mind that don't belong there. -- KF

  
Amadan



Posts: 1332
Joined: Jan. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2008,04:43   

Quote (keiths @ June 28 2008,18:59)
 Anything formed in the image of His Noodliness the FSM has rights.  Obviously.



Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Parmesan

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"People are always looking for natural selection to generate random mutations" - Densye  4-4-2011
JoeG BTW dumbass- some variations help ensure reproductive fitness so they cannot be random wrt it.

   
Bob O'H



Posts: 2132
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2008,08:29   

Quote
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Parmesan

Eh?  Prof. Singer may not be too impressed.

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It is fun to dip into the various threads to watch cluelessness at work in the hands of the confident exponent. - Soapy Sam (so say we all)

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: June 29 2008,14:29   

NOW LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE:  :angry:



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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
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