Thursday, April 27, 2006



Hominid rights in Spain

The Great Ape Project is a campaign to extend basic human rights and legal protection to the Great Apes (Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Gorillas, and Orangutans) on the basis that they generally share the morally significant characteristic of personhood. While there's obviously individual variation, the average Great Ape has around the same mental abilities as a human child. We extend at least partial legal recognition and protection to the latter, and to humans a lot further down the personhood spectrum (newborn babies and the severely mentally disabled, for example) - so why not to apes? So far, the GAP has succeeded in getting bans on hominid research in several countries, but now they look to be on the verge of a real success, with Spain's government announcing its intention to legislate for hominid rights:

The Spanish Socialist Party will introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies calling for "the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings." The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans.

According to another article, the bill will bar the enslaving of Great Apes, as well as cruel treatment. So, it's not complete legal equality (and I wouldn't expect it to be), but rather a recognition of the basic rights to life, liberty, and freedom from torture or cruel and unusual treatment.

14 comments:

Well I think its a start anyway though I'm not sure I'd take the sharing human genes thing as the necessary basis for it. When/if we have a singularity and sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence develops I'll be fine with that having rights too.

Posted by Make Tea Not War : 4/27/2006 08:34:00 AM

my conscience is forcing me to oppose this type of legislation.

where would the world be without such great films as "Every Which Way but Loose"?

exploitation of great apes by making them smoke till they get cancer and get drunk till they get cirrhosis for our enjoyment is a fine tradition we should not be toying with.

Posted by che tibby : 4/27/2006 10:35:00 AM

I think we should only proceed with this legislation as soon as Charlton Heston gets his ape rights on the planet of the Apes - but I fear they'd have to wrench it out of those monkey's cold dead hands first.

Posted by Uroskin : 4/27/2006 02:28:00 PM

nah, the apes will f[stuff] it up once they actually get their hands on nukes.

and besides, charlton is a damn fool. he gets locked in a change with a girl who is obviously not an enormous and scarey guy only called 'dagger', but he wants out.

insane.

Posted by che tibby : 4/27/2006 09:27:00 PM

Chimps and gorillas are clearly past the human toddler level in terms of intelligence and I don't have any problem with granting them some sort of limited human rights.

Posted by stephen : 4/28/2006 08:40:00 AM

This is indeed a good start and a logical extension of the research bans in place in several countries (including NZ).

Along with MTNW, however, I wonder if criteria based on human-ness will turn out to be problematic. True, research by people like Gordon Gallup seem to show that great apes have many of the cognitive attributes we assign to 'people'. But what if such conclusions are refuted? Would that mean we could torture apes again with a clear conscience?

I find Peter Singer pretty persuasive when he argues that it's an animal's capacity to suffer which should determine whether it belongs inside our "moral circle" and deserves some rights. This means potentially inviting a lot more animals in though and would open a bigger can of moral worms.

Posted by Jarvis Pink : 4/28/2006 08:50:00 AM

PC Gone Mad.

Posted by Wayne Mapp : 4/28/2006 09:20:00 AM

Yes, the "x% of genes in commom" is the weakest part of the argument. One reason being is that it is wrong to conclude that x% genes = x% human. It's in the small % difference that the difference lies clearly.

Singer's view is more cogent a points to the core of the issue.

Posted by neil morrison : 4/28/2006 09:46:00 AM

whoops... did i say 'change'? i obviously meant 'cage'.

and welcome to the party wayne. although i am surprised. you think you'd be the first in line for this set of rights.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/28/2006 09:50:00 AM

I support it, on the basis that there's an overlap in terms of sentience. After all, most great apes would outscore the majority of National MPs on IQ tests, yet we don't cruelly treat National MPs in inhumane experiments, the 2002 NZ General Election aside.

Incidentally, I think someone's impersonating Dr Mapp, and that's
scary. A Drag Wayne *brrrrr*...

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/28/2006 10:13:00 AM

On reflection I may be convinced to support hominid rights, but only on the condition that they are subject to a three month probation period when they take up employment.

We don't want great apes taking employers to court when it is found they are not doing the job properly, and business is already too restricted by red tape, compliance costs, human rights legislation and other such PC Nonsense as it is.

Trust me, I just want to improve the employment prospects for marginal employment prospects such as our simian friends.

Posted by Wayne Mapp : 4/28/2006 10:29:00 AM

have you ever seen donna and wayne in the same room?

think about it.

Posted by anonymous. : 4/28/2006 11:51:00 AM

I believe Wayne Mapp is demonstrating a clear internal contradiction in National Party policy. Surely, if he wished for a non-PC market solution for our simian co-habitors he would free up the market for voluntary experimentation on apes and chimpanzees. To me, the PC over-regulation of this nanny Labour government has seen many of these creatures thrown out of gainful employment in zoo tea parties, circuses and scientific establishments. Merely supporting bring Simian rights into line with the existing legislation is a clear Violation of Ayn Rand's principles - viz: "Government "help" to simians is just as disastrous as government persecution... the only way a government can be of service to simian prosperity is by keeping its hands off."

Posted by Sanctuary : 4/28/2006 12:01:00 PM

Has Dr Mapp raised this because some of his own colleagues are closet simians? I've always had my doubts about whether Richard Worth actually got to the opposable thumb stage...

Craig Y

Posted by Anonymous : 4/29/2006 10:59:00 AM