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Do sentient animals deserve rights?

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articles mentioned http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/kanzi-chimpanzee-start-fires-cook-making-world-smartest-monkeys-article-1.998716 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-17116882
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André Pfitzner (2 months ago)
Super intelligent beings does not need to kill less intelligent beings for food. They can create food using nanotechnology. If they kill, it will be for other reasons.
phillip galea (4 years ago)
empathy, advanced cognitive reasoning, the ability to rise above natural instincts, use of tools stone age or better, use of spoken language or other form of communication that allows for the communication of complicated ideas. all a must to be considered sentient. We are the only sentient life on this planet.
Matt Smith (5 years ago)
Crows and ravens are at the pinnacle of avian intelligence. Elephants are actually extremely intelligent as well. I don't jnow if they're up there with cetaceans, but they show as much capacity for interspecies altruism as dolphins. Elephant graveyards are a myth, but they do mourn their dead, sometimes for days, and they've even been known to bury their dead with branches.
captnhuffy (5 years ago)
I have an ex that couldn't start a fire or cook....   And she has more rights than any other species on the planet, including male humans.   And no, Sissy; Melting slabs of bland cheese on stale corn chips in the microwave isn't cooking ... 
David Robinson (5 years ago)
insightful as ever
Colonel Crustacean (5 years ago)
Crows are clever bastards... On a more serious note, I believe that any animal capable of having any kind of sentience deserves some degree of rights. A standard to find for the treatment of intelligent creatures should be found; perhaps not as prominent as human's, but something nonetheless. A little cliché, but how would you suppose these animals we lock up in cages feel? However, we can't mistake this for complete "human" rights; respecting, entirely, these rights would potentially breach a huge food source, or something else. So, rights should be alloted, to some degree, to animals that are seen as sufficiently sentient.
This is an excellent refutation of the absurd concept of natural rights. And of course, if an alien species vastly superior to us decided to keep us as pets in cages akin to what we do to animals in zoos, there would be little we could do to stop that. But of course, what intelligent species would have a such a ridiculous and wasteful habit?
Christie Nel (5 years ago)
I have thought about this and even had hypothetical discussions with people.  I came to the conclusion that people are just naturally speciest (and racist and sexist).  Life is just selfish, because it proved useful in survival.  In the end it is all subjective.
Viewer Discretion (5 years ago)
I say yes! Great vid. Rights are not objective. And although they may exist in language a right only becomes real and enacted through a practice of some sort (ie. of observing the right). And so the rights we should afford to them are about our actual treatment of them (destroy their habitats vs. protect them). Great apes lack the same mutations on the FOXP2 gene, which in humans confers our ability to vocalise at will - while it takes longer to teach great apes sign language there are many videos on YouTube that show their intelligence. One I like is Koko the gorilla who turns away from the movie when it gets to a sad part as child and parent are separated.
Wayne Simmons (5 years ago)
Rights are conceptually grounded in the perceptual reality that in order for human beings to co-exist we must recognize that we live by the use of our own individual rationality. Rights are a social recognition of an ontological fact of our nature. Until Barb Rosa gets a freely chosen thumbs up from an animal for this video, he's pissing in the wind.
+Wayne Simmons "Rights are a social recognition of an ontological fact of our nature."   Are they now, Wayne? And you arrived at this conclusion how, Wayne? Say it. I’ll say it for you, Wayne ... ‘a priori’.   Talk about pissing in the wind, Wayne, and praying to hit the broadside of a barn.
MrEditUndo (5 years ago)
Out of curiosity are you a vegetarian/vegan?
M (5 years ago)
To answer your question ... Yes. "Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or to experience subjectivity. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think from the ability to feel. In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to experience sensations." "responsive to or conscious of sense impressions <sentient beings>" Whether this infers any specific course of action is not clear.  As for your questions about "lower" forms of life being questioned as for their entitlement to rights and their consideration ... the answer to that question is yes too; many ask those questions and many fields study that specific field too.  The general answer is yes, towards the ends of Knowledge and future discovery.  All forms of life should at least be attempted to be preserved ... we never know what use they may have in the future.  I can cite spider thread silk genes being used in goats milk to synthesize bulletproof clothing; and other various kinds of ingenious benefits.  Various plant chimeras for food and the domestic dog being used for more effective cancer detection.  They have rights because they have inherit value; whether or not we recognize that value is up to us. 
phillip galea (4 years ago)
empathy, advanced cognitive reasoning, the ability to rise above natural instincts, use of tools stone age or better, use of spoken language or other form of communication that allows for the communication of complicated ideas. all a must to be considered sentient. We are the only sentient life on this planet.
elliotcheely (5 years ago)
nothing is true and everything is permitted.
MultiShadow1979 (5 years ago)
As George Carlin said.. _"You have no Rights.. that's all we've ever had in this country is a list of temporary privileges.. and if you read the news even badly, you'd know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter and shorter.."_
PsychologicalCynic (5 years ago)
"Rights", like all other man made constructs, are just that. A man made construct, nothing really objective to be put with them other than subjective/cultural etiquette and standards that might be universally held in a specific region at best.  To answer your question on me as an individual: No. I don't believe they deserve rights. If I'm hungry and I see something I'd like to eat, it's life, every "right" it had, ends on the spot. One big thing I have on the kind of etiquette spoken of is reciprocation. If the animal doesn't respect my "rights" why should I give a damn about theirs?   If I have an interest in killing it and eating it, I will. If I don't I wont. I don't have an interest in killing for sport or killing because I can, and I sure as hell don't have an interest in torturing animals or starving them, but I wouldn't say it's because they have "a right" to not be tortured, it's because I personally see needless suffering as morally wrong. 
Tim Landers (5 years ago)
As a cybernetician I deal with quantifying intelligence on a daily basis.  A rough measure of intelligence is the complexity of the system.  I often use simplified neurons which don't have recharge times like human neurons; However that which influences a neuron can be modeled as individual inputs, thus a human neuron is equivalent to a number of simplified neurons.  It takes at minimum 4 neurons to create a neural network that steers towards or avoids a region that is different than surrounding space.  This is a fact, one can demonstrate it mathematically via matrix multiplication.  A larger neural network of just 32 neurons can steer its chassis toward "food" and away from or towards competition depending on if they have more or less threat -- Using genetic programming these can evolve in under a hundred generations from random mutation and selection pressure. The point is that capacity for intelligence is quantifiable, it depends on the number of neurons -- More neurons more complexity of the system.  You are not special. A human has around 100 billion neurons.  Many worms have 11 or fewer.  When I mothball my very complex neural network simulations I consider it on the order of squashing a bug.  However, this is not because I am so much more advanced than the bug or simulation's neural complexity.  My allocation of concern for the individual's wellbeing is dependent upon the system's complexity -- Its capacity for intelligence.  If I were a vastly more intelligent creature with 100 billion human brains worth of thought processing, I would still recognize the human as a "sentient" being, possessed of the abilities to think complex thoughts, have fear and wonder, and explore -- Much as dogs and cats have. Humans have more intelligence than other animals, and this is what gives them special consideration over the others.  For each creature one can quantify their capacity for intelligence -- Not all creatures utilize their capacity to the fullest.  Humans have the greatest complexity among Earth's individual creatures, and thus their freedom of exploration has the most potential to create more complexity still. When you think in terms of overall complexity of the universe, problems of ethics become a simple matter of quantifying the complexity.  Were I an advanced ethical alien, I would not compare the human to myself when prescribing rights.  I would quantify the system's capacity for awareness.  If it were worm level intelligence, I may not have any qualms about eating them -- Though I would not make them extinct needlessly.  One of my ethical cornerstones is that which is good increases the complexity and exploration of the universe. This is a good test: Does the creature know it is not free?  A cockroach does not contain the complexity required to comprehend such concepts.  A chimp does, a dog does; Fish in too small of an aquarium do, but they can not comprehend the difference between one side of the glass or the other in a meaningful way. Development of Language is another tier of intelligence.  Prairie dogs have a form of language, as do crows.  The more advanced the creature is, the better their language is at describing their place in the universe.  Crows can shout, "danger".  An ape may know of or describe its jungle and past experience, a human can pontificate upon the cosmos, origin of the universe and quantum physics -- Ancient humans could only comprehend their planet.  The accuracy to which the beings can describe their place in reality is a measure of intelligence. You can talk to gorillas through sign language.  You can ask them what they do or do not desire.  Limiting their exploration of the universe hinders the complexity of the universe.  If it does not hinder the exploration sufficiently of a more complex race, then the lower life should know the freedom they can be given -- either real or false. One thing to understand is that what humans call "feelings" are ancient instincts implanted by evolution over tens of millions of years, some impulses go all the way back to when you were fish; Most can be traced back at least to your 6 million year old ancestors that are shared with chimps and other apes.  Feelings exist in genes and are expressed as brain structures which give rise to pattern matching of situations to evoke certain responses.  It's quite beautiful to know how your ancestors would have felt in your shoes -- They scream wordlessly in your mind as feelings, as in your ape cousins. There is no bar for sentience.  That is a line arbitrarily drawn in the sand.  Self reflection is a ridiculous measure based on an arbitrarily placed definition of "self". Realize that you are truly a selfless being -- a part of everything in the Universe: Any cognition at all is thus self reflection.  However the capacity for certain concepts and states of awareness can be quantified -- Not all minds are created equal.  The capacity for awareness scales from the single neuron capable of detecting and reacting to a single energy level variation, all the way up to humans -- and soon beyond when mind to machine and mind to mind interfaces are utilized. I know that cows have friends, and fears, and joys.  I would eat them anyway.  Some would balk at this once gaining understanding as I have, but humans have evolved as omnivores.  In the future you may have bodies that do not require your consumption of other intelligent beings, but now is not that time.  One must make do with the life and planet one has been born into.  I would appreciate the sacrifice of life in my food, and try to eat free-range animals who live happy lives, and meet death as painless as possible. When it comes to other apes?  Yes, they should have some rights.  They are not as smart as you or I, yet, so they may not be granted the right to be elected officials or to vote on issues they can not understand -- However, there are basic ethical principals that should be observed for all complex systems; Such as extinction, torture and imprisonment decreasing the complexity of the universe needlessly.  Note that complexity exists not only physically in the genetic world, but is also emergent in the electro/chemical states of all the creatures' minds. Some day you humans will attain the ability to convey the fact of this simple universal truth to your children at conception through your genes... Today you have only rudimentary feelings of what is good or bad to give them at that level.  Reason with your ancestors by consulting your instincts, evolution was no fool even if irrational at times -- where the wills of your genes and your mind diverge, go with the latter.
Great read, Tim, and thank you for taking the time to type all of that out.   In paragraph nine, which begins with, “One thing to understand is that what humans call feelings...”; I hold these very same ideas, but what you are referring to as “feelings”, I call ‘emotions’.  Same, same, in your book, or different?
[email protected] (5 years ago)
Rights should be for citizens only.
gnumss (5 years ago)
have you saw a episode called to serve man from the twilight zone the original series of the 1960 if not i recommend you to watch it :)
Classic Episode.  Unforgettable!
TMac473 (5 years ago)
Cute creatures that aren't a threat to us or that we can relate to easily are the ones I think that humans would give rights to like you say.  What about A.I.?  What if in a few years we have computers that start showing sentience?  Will we be giving robots rights?  Only if they look like us or are even more neotenous than us I suppose.  Just like the very concept of "love" and "god" and other things people dream about and make money off of... rights are something that people want to believe in but that don't actually exist or if they do... they have many limiting conditions that apply to them.
ted michael (5 years ago)
Human right is based on Agency, Reciprocal Accountability. Reciprocal responsibility means that you, as a holder of a particular right, are held responsible for respecting the similar and equal rights of others.  A violation of reciprocal responsibility opens you to criminal and civil liability. No right exists without this attending responsibility. The problem with animal rights is that animals are incapable of recognizing and respecting reciprocal responsibility. The concept of "animal rights" is an enviro-fantasy based on a misguided and ill-considered desire for animals to be happy. We have a responsibility to animals, not to mistreat them or cause them undue pain or suffering. There are, and should be, laws against animal cruelty. But to ascribe "rights" to animals goes against the concept of reciprocal responsibility which is inherent in the very definition of rights. Those who cannot respect rights cannot hold them...ergo, no rights for animals.
olieolis (5 years ago)
+Wayne Simmons Atta Boy, Wayne. 
ted michael (5 years ago)
+Law Thor Now you are just playing with words and being intellectually dishonest.  Do children have rights ? yes..,but it is subordinate to their adult guardians and it is not full rights as adult. That is why we don't hold them entirely responsible for crimes they have committed in the same degree as adults. The criminal justice system make this exception for a good reason namely, children are not fully developed beings whom we can expect reciprocal responsibility as a normal human Adult. That is why less culpability attach to a crime committed by a juvenile than to a comparable crime committed by an adult. The basis for this conclusion is too obvious to require extended explanation. Inexperience, less education, and less intelligence make the teenager less able to evaluate the consequences of his or her conduct while at the same time he or she is much more apt to be motivated by mere emotion or peer pressure than is an adult. The reasons why juveniles are not trusted with the privileges and responsibilities of an adult also explain why their irresponsible conduct is not as morally reprehensible as that of an adult. The problem with animal rights is that animals are incapable of recognizing and respecting reciprocal responsibility. If left completely free, animals would habitually engage in acts that would be criminal if performed by human beings. Bears and cougars would attack (assault) people. Dogs would defecate on (vandalize) people's lawns. A million other "criminal acts" would be perpetrated by animals, in violation of others' rights. This leads to one of two outcomes: 1) Humans and animals would necessarily have to have different standards of behavior. Acts against persons or property that would be criminal for humans, would be allowed for animals. In other words, animals would have superior rights to humans. We'd be constantly cleaning up after the criminality of animals, and would effectively be enslaved to creatures that didn't have a second thought to us and our rights. This is backward, to put it mildly. 2) To protect us from the criminal acts of animals, we'd have to imprison animals that "break the law." Since animals don't have the reasoning ability to make rational choices, most animals would eventually end up imprisoned for breaking the law. So we'd be locking up all these "freed" animals...how exactly does that respect their "rights?" At the end of the day, rights comes from your power to assert it and animals have no power over us. Until animals enunciate their rights, they have none. Nature isn't made from rights, Animal don't want our rights. They don't need it and they don't know what to do with them. The rights are some conventions between humans, to give a chance to all humans to receive a fair treatment. But nature isn't fair. Animals should not be treated cruelly, but the "rights" of animals should not be confused with human rights. And yes.....Human right is very much conditional !!
Wayne Simmons (5 years ago)
Well done, Ted.
+ted michael Firstly, Ted, “rights” needed to have been defined at the outset. Re: Paragraph 1 - “Exception That Proves The Rule” is a fallacy, as is “Cliché Thinking”.  Please reacquaint yourself with the former and acquaint yourself with the latter. - Since you appear to be interested in philosophy, there are valid arguments, invalid arguments, sound arguments, unsound arguments, but no “bad” arguments. Re: Paragraph 2 From your opening reply: “Those who cannot respect rights cannot hold them...ergo, no rights for animals.” I took issue with your assertion.  I mounted a counterargument comprised of numerous real-world examples of folks who either do not, or cannot respect rights, yet keep hold of all manner of rights.  You have dismissed my examples, referring to them as an exception.  Then, you moved away from the realm of rights and into the domain of standards. All of this would be fine for a lunch-hour argue-for-the-sake-of-it and let’s take the argument wherever it goes kind of exercise, but I would like to return here to the assertion I took issue with.  May I suggest that you telephone the local Child Protection Service and ask them: ‘Do children have rights or do they have privilege and our sympathy?’  Make no mistake about it; children have rights and they have never had more rights.  Historical Trivia For The Interested: “In 1874, a case involving a young child named Mary Ellen drew attention to the physical abuse of children in North America (Cole, 1985, Ward, 1994).  Mary Ellen was repeatedly beaten by her parents in New York.  Initial attempts to have her removed from her home failed because there was no law against child abuse.  Finally, Mary Ellen had to be rescued by representatives of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals because no such body representing children existed.  Following the Mary Ellen case, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children was formed in New Your State and child abuse legislation was passed.” Once Upon A Time in America, animals had more rights than children.  Today, not one of the two respect rights, yet both have rights.  Works for me.
Last and First Men (5 years ago)
if animals are senitient i.e. humans...   then probably

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