Human Rights for Animals?

by Allen Leigh, contributor

The Fall 2013 issue (pp. 4-5) of the Bostonia, the Boston University (BU) Alumnus magazine, has an interesting article entitled Should Chimps Have the Rights of People? This article concerns the activities of Steven Wise, a BU law graduate (1976), who is the author of two books entitled Rattling the Cage and Drawing the Line. Wise is also president of the NonHuman Rights Project. Wise says animals deserve legal personhood.

In answer to a question from Bostonia, Wise said the following.

There are a million species of animals. I have studied fewer than a dozen. Based on my research and discussions with scientists, it appears likely that at least some great apes, cetaceans, and elephants posses cognitive abilities that the Nonhuman Rights Project believes are sufficient for legal personhood. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list.

As an active Latter-day Saint, I disagree with Wise. I believe animals are not humans, regardless of their cognitive abilities. The basis for my belief is from the LDS definition of a “soul” that is given in the Doctrine and Covenants.

And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. (D&C 88:15)

I believe the “spirit” referred to is the spirit child of our Father in Heaven, and I don’t believe that animals have a spirit child of God. I do believe that we should protect and care for animals, but I don’t believe animals are humans and thus deserve the rights of humans. Animals do have bodies composed of physical and spirit matter, but they do not have spirit children of God. People have all three.

This entry was posted in great apes, mormonism, other animals, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Human Rights for Animals?

  1. rogerdhansen says:

    This is a tough subject for me. I’ve had short but close encounters with all of the great apes except bonobos. In the 1960s, I saw Snowflake, an albino gorilla that was housed in the Barcelona Zoo. It was very disconcerting. For me, it’s hard not to relate to these animals that we share so much DNA with. Unfortunately the great apes are dwindling in numbers due to loss of habitat and wonton killing. They need to be granted some sort of legal protection.

    I’ve also spent a little time watching elephants in the wild, and would like to spend some time observing whales. The whaling industry bothers me a lot. Here I side with Green Peace. There is plenty of evidence that animals can experience love and pain.

    The LDS Church believes in the resurrection of animals. Doesn’t this place them in a lofty status? Doesn’t this imply some sort of preexistence and spirit?

    The issue of nonhuman rights is an interesting one. There are at least three areas where the issue becomes particularly germane to transhumanists and futurists: (1) possible cognitive enhance of great apes (and other intelligent animals) thereby moving them closer to sentience; (2) evolution of robots toward sentience; and (3) the merging of human sentience with robotic bodies.

    On December 6-8, 2013, Yale University will be hosting a conference titled “Personhood Beyond the Human.” The conference is going to explore “evolving notions of personhood by analyzing them through the framework of neuroscience, behavioral science, philosophy, ethics, and law.” This issue of nonhuman rights is one that will not be going away.

  2. Text taken from youtube :Temple Worshippers Society was formed with the twin objectives of Temple Protection and Cattle Protection. Since its inception, Temple Worshippers Society has been focussing on the Government’s mismanagement of Temples, their properties and endowments, interference in worshipping patterns, total disregard to Gau Samrakshana, etc. We are committed to restoring our Temples and its endowments from the evil clutches of the Government, rightfully for management by Hindus themselves. Towards achieving the second objective, this documentary is our first step to stop cruelty to cattle, while being transported in millions to Kerala. It is our earnest desire that viewers should protest strongly through emails and letters to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to stop allowing Tamil Nadu from being a transit point for illegal cattle mafia. All that we ask the Government is to enforce the rule of law – the laws pertaining to transportation of Animals, true to its words, spirit and content. The Government should rescue the animals and house them in Temple lands endowed by generous devotees for running Goshalas. Every temple in Tamil Nadu should house such abandoned cattle and nourish them through the rest of their lives in Goshalas earmarked as endowments for such purpose.

  3. Pingback: Granting “Personhood” Status for Great Apes | Tired Road Warrior

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