Animal Rights

Trying to set a criteria for defining the rights we allow to non-human entities provides an interesting debate. The word, “intelligence” is usually used, but that is not simple to define and may not be adequate. Intelligence is often measured by ability to perform analytic reasoning. But just performing calculations or retrieving knowledge may not be considered intelligence. We often like to link the quality of intelligence to some form of “wisdom” in how knowledge and analysis is applied. This can also be called ethical reasoning.

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as ‘non-human persons’

Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.

Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.

Dolphins as Non-Human Persons

What makes the assertion of dolphin personhood so important is that the first recognition of personhood rights in a non-human, even if limited, will have tremendous, spectacular ripple effects. If we accept dolphins are non-human persons, say, with limited rights akin to that of a human child then here are some logical conclusions one might be able make:

1. Dolphins could have limited sovereignty rights, making the oceans they patrol effectively their territory. The ocean might become a UN protectorate.

2. Dolphins would no longer be in zoos and aquariums. It would be tantamount to imprisonment.

3. Alternatively, state funding for the study of dolphins would skyrocket. To ensure the law is accurate and neither a farce nor insufficient, a very accurate, very clear understanding of dolphin intelligence would be needed.

4. Dolphin deaths would become literal murders and deaths resulting from fishing would become genocide.

Common bottlenose dolphin – []

Common bottlenose dolphins are widespread, active and very acrobatic. They are extremely sociable and sometimes hunt their prey (fish, squid and shrimp) in teams.

Life: Bottlenose dolphins mud-ring feeding – []

A pod of bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Florida have developed a remarkable hunting strategy in order to catch fish. Another awesome thing about this technique is that only one female in the pod can create this ring, and it’s always anti-clockwise.

Self Awareness
Beyond Turing

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