Dolphins are people, my friend.
Dolphins deserve to be treated as non-human “persons” whose rights to life and liberty should be respected, scientists meeting in Canada have been told.
A small group of experts in philosophy, conservation and dolphin behaviour were canvassing support for a “Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans”.
They believe dolphins - and their whale cousins - are sufficiently intelligent and self-aware to justify the same ethical considerations given to humans.
The move is based on years of research that has shown dolphins and whales to have large, complex brains and a human-like level of self-awareness.
This has led the experts to conclude that although non-human, dolphins and whales are “people” in a philosophical sense, which has far-reaching implications.
Here’s what I wrote about personhood rights for dolphins in my book on human rights back in the mid-2000s:
Rather than adopt a speciesist line here, let me add that it is not impossible – though it might be a bit far-fetched at this point in time – to imagine a time when people will also speak of the ability of dolphins or chimps to imagine entirely new descriptions of the world. Until that time, however, it seems quite plausible for Rortyans to speak of a single, indivisible unit of human rights: the mind.
So, basically, it’ll be fascinating when people have to confront the argument that adult dolphins have rights that human fetuses don’t have.