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Should the same ethical considerations given to human life be extended to animals that have demonstrated the same level as intelligence and self awareness as humans? A panel of experts in animal behavior, conservation, and philosophical ethics believe that "human" rights should be extended to cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). They are seeking support for a "Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans" at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the worlds largest gathering of scientists, currently being held in Vancouver, Canada. There is a large body of well documented research demonstrating "language comprehension, abstract thinking, problem solving, self-recognition and meta-cognition" as well as "startling evidence for complex cultural traditions in many cetacean species, including orcas, sperm whales and humpback whales". As animals that have demonstrated strong evidence of not only human level intelligence but self awareness, cetaceans should be given the same level of ethical consideration that humans have. What reason is there for the continued capture, confinement, and hunting of cetaceans?
You can find half (or perhaps all, can't recall right now) in ants so I don't think they should be given "human" rights. Granted, they are quite smart and they do some remarkable things but treating any animal as "human" is absurd. Even the "large body of well documented research" has been heavily critizised to say the least too. I don't particularly agree with the hunting of this animals though, today it is an archaic practice which should be abolished altogether everywhere. As far as capture and confinement, I don't think this should be altogether stopped. This in particular is not endangering them, it is a bunch of other stuff. If the other stuff which is actually endangering them (say the hunting, pollution and whatnot) there would be no harm in keeping a few of them captive (except perhaps for the few ones that are kept captive).
Could you link to some available criticisms? I am not aware of any studies refuting high level intelligence in cetaceans but it is possible some are out there. If there are there is no doubt available on the internet, even if it is only bibliographical information.
Ants do not exactly have self awareness or the ability for abstract thought. Nor are they capable of complex problem solving. They are capable of relatively complex communication for insects, using pheromones to coordinate with fellow worker or soldiers. Nothing comparable to whale song or dolphin sonar though.
The question this seminar really raises is what actually separates humans from other animals, for what reason do we extend ethical considerations to our fellow men and women. If the scientific evidence available leads us to believe that another species of animals shares these traits, should we not extend ethics to include them? Even if we can not conclusively show that they another species is self aware, if we have enough information to strongly suggest the possibility do humans have a moral obligation to cease destructive behavior?
The point of the seminar is to suggest that cetacean's could be intelligent enough to be self aware, capable of complex behavior guided by forethought rather than instinct, with the potential for individuality. Extending ethical consideration would mean protecting the rights of the individual, not just the group. Confinement would be viewed as an infringement of individual rights, just as confinement of a person would be viewed as criminal. Conservation would move beyond protecting the species to protected individual animals. A fascinating idea, one that truly forces us to think about what makes us human.
I will get around to reading those articles but I'll throw my uninformed two cents in now.
IF, and that is clearly a big if, they are able to show that cetaceans show an extremely high level of intelligence then I could get behind this. By high level, I would expect self-awareness, abstract thought, as well as problem solving skills; so if they prove these mammals are capable of such complex activity then it would be almost asinine to not give them at least a few more protections than other animals.
Though in all honestly, I don't feel very strongly one way or the other at the moment.
I don't really understand why should they have more protection than the others ? That's quite make a discrimination between the species.
And how were these criteria chosen, why all those, why only those ? does all species of cetacean fulfil them, aren't there any other species that show the same level of intelligence ?
Honestly we have enough problem to make our own human rights be respected, it's quite useless to make other for species who if they are that clever should ask for it before we force something into them.
i dont really see the connection between intelligence and rights . does that mean its alright to slaughter species if they are proven stupid ?
Well, as for the ants part I recall reading about ants which not by repetition learned stuff and to boot somehow (almost miraculously some would say) they were able to teach baby ants (or larvae) to do the same (or not to do something). Can't recall where though but it does show a decent bit of unexpected intelligence.
As for the criticism, I recall reading that most of the points made in favor of such a thing were highly subjective. Again, no link for this, sorry about that.
I do think there are a few risks with doing such a thing. As far as I know, we actually know very little of how thought processes work in animals (correct me if I am wrong, eager to learn here). How do we know animals in general are unable to have any form of abstract thought? Maybe they don't have human level capacities however maybe there is a degree of it. If such a thing is approved and then someone comes along and presents evidence that mosquitoes have some level or form of abstract thought and whatnot then we dug ourselves into a shit-hole. Obviously that particular example is most likely an exaggeration however if evidence is presented for something else then we have that more and more species should enjoy such rights.
Valuing animals because their cognition reminds humans of themselves is no different from valuing animals because they look anthropomorphic.
Even if the nature of a dolphin means it should be treated differently to a fish to avoid its suffering, it doesn't mean the dolphin is superior to the fish and should have 'rights', just that its needs are different through its evolutionary history. The fish has its own set of needs to function healthily and without suffering, that's all.
surely they deserve the same rights we possess! animals aren't worse than humans. I'd rather care about animals than humans. there are too many humans who are destroying the planet,if the world preserve them,why not more useful beings?
who are we to decide other beings rights ? this is just man playing god