Monday, July 7, 2008

Animal Equality

All animals are not equal. I find it much more difficult to hit an innocent puppy than step on a ladybug.

Saletan has written a post on that in slate

GAP is scientifically honest. And science doesn't show mental parity between great apes and human adults. What it shows, as the group's president acknowledges, is that great apes "experience an emotional and intellectual conscience similar to that of human children." Accordingly, the Spanish proposal doesn't treat apes like you or me. It treats them like "humans of limited capacity, such as children or those who are mentally incompetent and are afforded guardians or caretakers to represent their interests.

Their justification?

(Apes) enjoy a rich emotional and cultural existence in which they experience emotions such as fear, anxiety and happiness. They share the intellectual capacity to create and use tools, learn and teach other languages. They remember their past and plan for their future. It is in recognition of these and other morally significant qualities that the Great Ape Project was founded.

But there is a problem. Once you open the door of rights to non-humans, then you have to start judging ALL living beings on a spectrum, where the question of rights becomes a QUANTITATIVE question rather than a BINARY choice between all rights and no rights. What happens when the rights of very intelligent animals conflicts with that of very unintelligent humans? Whose rights win out? For example, would it be justified to destroy an ape habitat to make way for a facility to house the mentally ill?

Should rights be proportional to intellectual capacity? It would be difficult to argue otherwise if apes were granted rights but mice weren't.

In that case, would rights be apportioned more to racial groups that are more intelligent?

Disturbing questions. Only more justification for the singularity.


Sleep said...

Ive considered questions like these myself (not the racial one ... come on man, youre not that cold are you?) and concluded that there is no answer science can give us.

Just because the apes have the same intelligence as kids doesnt mean they should have the same rights as kids though. And I dont think anyone believes that they should ... this is just a way for animal rights activists to take the moral high ground on the issue of testing medical products on apes. And there, too, I think the issue is way too cloudy for me to come down firmly on one side or the other.

Sleep said...

Also, can you please give me your email address? Im not going to send you insults or anything ... I just would like to discuss some issues regarding Transhumanism and Im tired of being bound to replying to things you write instead of actively starting the conversation myself.

No, Im not the best penpail in the world, I know that. That's how come it's taken me so long to realize that your old email address is no longer valid. But I promise I will have interesting things to say and I'll be prompt with my replies, at least for so long as it is until I've either got a fulltime job or am a fulltime student again. (One or the other of those things is going to happen soon.)

Sleep said...
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Johnson said...

Again, once you take religion out of it, what separates stupid humans from really smart animals?