Hoping to put a final end the well-documented abuse of whales and dolphins (or cetaceans, as they are affectionately called by scientists) a group of rights activist at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver has proposed that the sea-faring creatures should be lawfully looked upon as “non-human ‘persons’.”
The mental facilities and capacities of cetaceans are similar to those of us, their two-legged friends, with similarly high intelligence and instinctual skills. It has also been suggested in the Periscope Post that they can also regocnize themselves in mirrors. Other strange “individualistic” (and undeniably human) behaviours that cetaceans engage in include murder, and sexual intercourse for pleasure. Whether or not this establishes dolphins and whales as “human,” depends on what psychological/ethical theorists you agree with.
According to Loria Marino, one of four scientists speaking up at the meeting: “[Dolphins'] basic needs are very much like humans–to be able to stay alive, to not be confined, to make choices and travel, and perhaps foremost, to engage in social interaction.”
A Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans has been proposed by the group, and could have huge human philosophical implications: ”We’re saying the science has shown that individuality – consciousness, self-awareness – is no longer a unique human property. That poses all kinds of challenges.”
The declaration includes statements, according to the BBC, like, “every individual cetacean has the right to life”, “no cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude, be subject to cruel treatment, or be removed from their natural environment,” and “no cetacean is the property of any state, corporation, human group or individual”.
If dolphins deserve the same rights as humans, do they get to vote in the declaration? PETA has already positioned entertainment show whales as plaintiffs in enslavement lawsuits, so who knows what the future has in store for our cetacean brethren. We should probably start now before the ascendance of a Waterworld scenario.