Are chimps deserving of some human rights?

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KimPossible's picture
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Are chimps deserving of some human rights?

Now lets take out of the fact that the chimp's living conditions are better now, then they used to be, because overall, that does not get to the question i really want to debate. What i want to debate is if chimps are deseving of any 'human-like' protections that are typically not given to other animals. Is owning a chimp different than owning a rabbit? Yes or no? Do they approach a level of personhood that makes them worthy of a more strict consideration of the environment they are living in when overseen by humans?

Interestingly enough (for me) this chimp and its owners don't live that far away from where i grew up.

Chimps Are People, Too? Lawsuit Will Test That Question : The Two-Way : NPR

Is a chimp, living as a pet in the home of Patrick and Diane Lavery in Gloversville, N.Y., really enslaved and entitled to his freedom? Does the 26-year-old Tommy, who scientists argue is cognitively similar to humans, deserve some of the same rights as Homo sapiens?

Those questions are at the center of a lawsuit (pdf) filed in the State of New York Supreme Court in Fulton County, N.Y., on Monday.

As The New York Times puts it, "this is no stunt." Instead it is the culmination of a legal strategy that's been years in the making. The lawsuit was filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project, which has been working to change the common law status of some "non-human animals" from "things" to "persons."

The lawsuit uses a cornerstone of the legal system to seek this change. The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a writ of habeas corpus, which historically compels a judge to call upon a person's captor to explain why he has a right to hold the person captive.

"More specifically, our suits are based on a case that was fought in England in 1772, when an American slave, James Somerset, who had been taken to London by his owner, escaped, was recaptured and was being held in chains on a ship that was about to set sail for the slave markets of Jamaica," Michael Mountain, of the Nonhuman Rights Project wrote in a blog post. "With help from a group of abolitionist attorneys, Somerset's godparents filed a writ of habeas corpus on Somerset's behalf in order to challenge Somerset's classification as a legal thing, and the case went before the Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench, Lord Mansfield. In what became one of the most important trials in Anglo-American history, Lord Mansfield ruled that Somerset was not a piece of property, but instead a legal person, and he set him free."

The motion filed on Monday argues that Chimps are being treated by the law as slaves, but it also argues that the law right now already gives legal personhood to nonhumans: Domestic animals, for example, who are the beneficiaries of trusts and, of course, it also extends some human legal rights to corporations.

Also, the motion argues, leading scientists say that "... Chimpanzees possess such complex cognitive abilities as autonomy, self-determination, self-consciousness, awareness of past, anticipation for the future and the ability to make choices; display complex emotions such as empathy; and construct diverse cultures. The possession of these characteristics is sufficient to establish common law personhood and the consequential fundamental right to bodily liberty."

The Nonhuman Rights Project is asking the judge to order Tommy free and that he be sent to a sanctuary where he can be properly taken care of.

The Times spoke to the man who keeps Tommy:

"Patrick C. Lavery, the owner of Circle L Trailer Sales in Gloversville, where Tommy lives, said he heard about the petition from reporters' telephone calls. He said from his home in Florida that he had complied with all state and federal regulations, that Tommy had a spacious cage 'with tons of toys,' and that he had been trying to place him in sanctuaries, but that they had no room. He said he had rescued the chimp from his previous home, where he was badly treated.
"'People ought to use common sense,' he said. Of the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group he was not aware of, he said, 'If they were to see where this chimp lived for the first 30 years of his life, they would jump up and down for joy about where he is now.'"
David Favre, a professor at Michigan State University College of Law and an expert on animal law, tells Reuters that this is the first time a habeas petition has been filed on behalf of a non-human animal. That means this is novel and predicting an outcome could be tricky.

The Nonhuman Rights Project also said it was filing similar suits in two other New York jurisdictions seeking "identical relief on behalf of chimpanzees unlawfully detained."

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No. They should be treated like any other animal. Not cruelly, but like an animal because that is what they are.

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I think that animals have a right to be treated in a way that is appropriate to their needs. I don't know a lot about chimps, but I believe that keeping them in a cage in a house with some toys is probably not appropriate for the chimp, although I do have some sympathy that it sounds like this couple "rescued" the chimp from a bad situation and are doing what they can as a stop gap measure until they can get him into a sanctuary. I don't think that chimps really qualify for "human" rights though. And assuming that they do qualify, what does that mean in a real world scenario? Right now the lawsuit is alleging that the couple is keeping him in "slavery", but what is the alternative? You can't just let a chimp go free in the middle of the US; that could be very dangerous to both humans and the chimp. And even if you could return him to his natural habitat, who knows if, having been raised in captivity, he is equipped to survive on his own in the wild. So from a pratical standpoint, I think that he's certainly not "competent" to be released under his own recognizance, so that leads us back to providing him with a habitat that is appropriate to his needs, which would almost certainly include some sort of captivity, such as a sanctuary.

ETA: Have any of you ever seen the documentary "Project Nim?" It's sooooo sad. It's sort of relevent in that it is the true story of what happened to a chimp when humans tried to raise him as if he was human. Chimps are not human, and trying to raise them as such is not doing them any favors. That doesn't mean exactly that they have no rights under the law, but I can't see saying that they have "human rights" because their needs are different.

http://www.npr.org/2011/07/20/138467156/project-nim-a-chimps-very-human-very-sad-life

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I think that animals have a right to be treated in a way that is appropriate to their needs.

I think this is the tricky part....because, correct me if I'm wrong, there is no distinction, legally speaking between say, rabbits and chimps. Who gets to oversee and define the needs of each individual animal.

I can sort of see a case for doing something in regards to chimpanzees because surely, given their cognitive abilities to keep one under such conditions is definitely cruel. I'm pretty sure studies show that chimpanzees have the cognitive abilities equivalent of a 6 year old.

Legally, there should be a way to do something about this IMO and I think brushing it off as "just an animal" is not good enough.

While i don't really know if i'm keen on giving chimps personhood....those bolded paragraphs really spoke to me. I guess i don't think they are like 'any other animal'...while theyare not human, they might be worth of a class of their own somehow. Animals yes...but, animals with...distinction? I don't know. Their self awareness is not the equivalent of a common pet's.

And i don't think the suggestion would be to just release them into the wild.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

I think this is the tricky part....because, correct me if I'm wrong, there is no distinction, legally speaking between say, rabbits and chimps. Who gets to oversee and define the needs of each individual animal.

I can sort of see a case for doing something in regards to chimpanzees because surely, given their cognitive abilities to keep one under such conditions is definitely cruel. I'm pretty sure studies show that chimpanzees have the cognitive abilities equivalent of a 6 year old.

Legally, there should be a way to do something about this IMO and I think brushing it off as "just an animal" is not good enough.

While i don't really know if i'm keen on giving chimps personhood....those bolded paragraphs really spoke to me. I guess i don't think they are like 'any other animal'...while theyare not human, they might be worth of a class of their own somehow. Animals yes...but, animals with...distinction? I don't know. Their self awareness is not the equivalent of a common pet's.

And i don't think the suggestion would be to just release them into the wild.

But there's the rub, isn't it? From a practical standpoint, what does it mean that they have personhood? Maybe I'm misunderstanding the article, but we're they alleging that the chimp was being kept "as a slave" because he was being kept...er....for lack of a better way to express it, without his consent? Otherwise, why "slavery?" If they grant him personhood, do they then have to turn around and declare him incompetent to see after his own needs in order to continue keeping him in some form of captivity? And in that case, what is the point of the whole exercise?

ETA: What I am trying to say is that he doesn't have to be granted personhood if all we are trying to do is move him to a habitat that is appropriate for a chimp. The fact that they are trying to grant personhood implies to me some sort of autonomy, but in reality I don't think that we are actually able to grant the chimp with autonomy - I assume he would still be held in captivity, just captivity that is more appropriate to a chimp, such as a sanctuary.

In regards to keeping an animal in a manner consistent with his needs, I don't think that is a problem from a legal stand point. I think we recognize that different animals have different needs and it is cruel to keep an animal in a habitat that does not fit its needs, even if we don't specifically spell out in the law that each animal has a right to X, Y, and Z. I mean, this is going to sound like a very silly example, but a fish needs a bowl, where as a puppy needs space to move around and play. We may not actually spell out in the law that it's illegal to keep a puppy trapped in a dry aquarium, but if animal enforcement officers found a puppy that had been trapped in a small bowl or aquarium I'm sure they would remove the animal from the environment. I don't think we have to go so far as to declare that puppies have human rights in order to determine that they have a right to be kept in an environment that is compatible with their needs. I guess I'm not entirely understanding what makes chimps and puppies different in this debate.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

But there's the rub, isn't it? From a practical standpoint, what does it mean that they have personhood? Maybe I'm misunderstanding the article, but we're they alleging that the chimp was being kept "as a slave" because he was being kept...er....for lack of a better way to express it, without his consent? Otherwise, why "slavery?" If they grant him personhood, do they then have to turn around and declare him incompetent to see after his own needs in order to continue keeping him in some form of captivity? And in that case, what is the point of the whole exercise?

I think what they are trying to do is leverage whatever existing laws there are...to find a route to better treatment (and probably to set a precedent going forward).

ETA: What I am trying to say is that he doesn't have to be granted personhood if all we are trying to do is move him to a habitat that is appropriate for a chimp. The fact that they are trying to grant personhood implies to me some sort of autonomy, but in reality I don't think that we are actually able to grant the chimp with autonomy - I assume he would still be held in captivity, just captivity that is more appropriate to a chimp, such as a sanctuary.

I don't know....are there laws? Not that its the best resource but the group behind this lawsuit seems to suggest there are not. They claim his treatment, as it stands right now, is perfectly legal. So the quesiton is, should it be? And if not, how would be laws be defined? How would you differentiate between keeping a rabbit in a clean cage and a chimpanzee? Or is there no reason to bother.

In regards to keeping an animal in a manner consistent with his needs, I don't think that is a problem from a legal stand point. I think we recognize that different animals have different needs and it is cruel to keep an animal in a habitat that does not fit its needs, even if we don't specifically spell out in the law that each animal has a right to X, Y, and Z.

I'd be skeptical that if the monkey is kept in a clean cage that there is any existing law that could be used to declare this unfit. I would like to see what that law is.

I mean, this is going to sound like a very silly example, but a fish needs a bowl, where as a puppy needs space to move around and play. We may not actually spell out in the law that it's illegal to keep a puppy trapped in a dry aquarium, but if animal enforcement officers found a puppy that had been trapped in a small bowl or aquarium I'm sure they would remove the animal from the environment. I don't think we have to go so far as to declare that puppies have human rights in order to determine that they have a right to be kept in an environment that is compatible with their needs. I guess I'm not entirely understanding what makes chimps and puppies different in this debate.

Well maybe this is where the issue of ownership comes in. Because if we are, by law, allowed to own chimpanzees (which is seems that we are...at least in NY state? I don't know the finer details of this)...what type of environment could possibly be fit for a chimp in a typical household. Or how does one successfully argue that this environment is not fit for this animal. Its not really a matter of space alone...as we do keep other pets in probably similar ratios for cages/aquariums....its an issue of cognitive awareness. I think thats where the problem is or at least thats what this group is trying to argue.

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Also, about not releasing it into the wild....even if it has personhood..that would not be proper care, anymore so than dropping a child off on the corner and never returning for them. A child is a person, just not one capable of caring for themselves.

So you can still honor ones personhood, without 'setting them free'.

Now i'm not saying i am a proponent of giving a chimpanzee any type of personhood (although you could convince me that some distinction needs to be made for high functioning animals)..I'm just saying why i don't think granting it personhood automatically means you need to let it go and die because it can't care for itself.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

I don't know....are there laws? Not that its the best resource but the group behind this lawsuit seems to suggest there are not. They claim his treatment, as it stands right now, is perfectly legal. So the quesiton is, should it be? And if not, how would be laws be defined? How would you differentiate between keeping a rabbit in a clean cage and a chimpanzee? Or is there no reason to bother.

If there aren't laws that state that an animal should be kept in an environment that is consistent with that species' typical needs, then I would be all for a law that states that. Certainly I think there is a reason to bother - it's cruel to keep an animal in a habitat that is not suited to the needs of that species. I guess I'm just hung up on the whole "why personhood?" peice of it. Because again, I would say that no matter which type animal we're talking about, they should be kept in a manner that is consistent with their species needs, but I still don't entirely see how bestowing "personhood" on the animal plays in to that.

Well maybe this is where the issue of ownership comes in. Because if we are, by law, allowed to own chimpanzees (which is seems that we are...at least in NY state? I don't know the finer details of this)...what type of environment could possibly be fit for a chimp in a typical household. Or how does one successfully argue that this environment is not fit for this animal. Its not really a matter of space alone...as we do keep other pets in probably similar ratios for cages/aquariums....its an issue of cognitive awareness. I think thats where the problem is or at least thats what this group is trying to argue.

Maybe a better solution would be to make a law that says that private owners aren't allowed to own chimps? I know there are other types of non-domesticated animals that are against the law to own. I wouldn't be opposed to putting chimps on that list.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

Also, about not releasing it into the wild....even if it has personhood..that would not be proper care, anymore so than dropping a child off on the corner and never returning for them. A child is a person, just not one capable of caring for themselves.

So you can still honor ones personhood, without 'setting them free'.

Now i'm not saying i am a proponent of giving a chimpanzee any type of personhood (although you could convince me that some distinction needs to be made for high functioning animals)..I'm just saying why i don't think granting it personhood automatically means you need to let it go and die because it can't care for itself.

But with humans, the assumption is that over the normal course of the child's lifetime they will be granted autonomy once they reach adulthood, or else if they cannot (due to disability) I believe that has to be established specifically in court. Presumably no chimp of any age can be given autonomy, at least not within the US. We don't have the ecosystem for it. Wink

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

If there aren't laws that state that an animal should be kept in an environment that is consistent with that species' typical needs, then I would be all for a law that states that.

I think that is really generic and too open for interpretation, don't you? How do you define what a species typical needs are considering that its taken completely out of its normal environment. THink of all the animals that people keep as pets.

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I forgot to respond to some of the other things that you brought up. About the personhood, i agree that there is something that feels not right about using that term...however I think chimpanzees possess a lot of the characteristics that we use to define ourselves as unique or special. I mean if you asked someone for a non religious reason as to why humans are special....what do you feel like they would say. Maybe some would say the only thing that makes us special is that we are the most powerful and most intelligent, but i remember my favorite debate, the burning building/saving your dog or stranger debate many people argued that there is something particularly special that sets humans apart and most didn't limit it to just being powerful.

If those are qualities that we find to be worth distinguishing (the ones I bolded in the article) then i would think there would probably be something particularly terrible about being held captive like this.

I agree with the putting chimps on the list of animals you can't own...i don't know why they are not on the list already, but i think that list varies from state to state. I would think the reasons for some animals being illegal are very different...probably some sort of environmental protection or health thing.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

I think that is really generic and too open for interpretation, don't you? How do you define what a species typical needs are considering that its taken completely out of its normal environment. THink of all the animals that people keep as pets.

I'm sorry, I don't understand what you are arguing - are you saying that we would need to write into the law what each species specifically needs, or are you saying that defining other animals as "persons" somehow clarifies and alleviates that need, or something else?

"KimPossible" wrote:

I forgot to respond to some of the other things that you brought up. About the personhood, i agree that there is something that feels not right about using that term...however I think chimpanzees possess a lot of the characteristics that we use to define ourselves as unique or special. I mean if you asked someone for a non religious reason as to why humans are special....what do you feel like they would say. Maybe some would say the only thing that makes us special is that we are the most powerful and most intelligent, but i remember my favorite debate, the burning building/saving your dog or stranger debate many people argued that there is something particularly special that sets humans apart and most didn't limit it to just being powerful.

If those are qualities that we find to be worth distinguishing (the ones I bolded in the article) then i would think there would probably be something particularly terrible about being held captive like this.

I agree with the putting chimps on the list of animals you can't own...i don't know why they are not on the list already, but i think that list varies from state to state. I would think the reasons for some animals being illegal are very different...probably some sort of environmental protection or health thing.

At the root of it, obviously humans are animals too. I don't think that we are separate from animals. Having said that, just as a fish has different needs from a dog, we have different needs from other animals. My problem is not with recognizing the sort of inherent dignity of different species or thinking that it is okay to treat them cruelly, it's more that I associate "personhood" with rights that seem kind of ridiculous to confer upon a species that has no appreciation or concept or need of them. For example, I believe that all people have the right to free speech. I realize that not all governments recognize that right, but I don't think that means that the people who live in those countries don't have that right, only that they are being denied their rights. What use does a chimp or a fish or a puppy have of the right to free speech? I know how ridiculous I sound right now, but I'm just trying to illustrate by that to me "personhood" is kind of a loaded term that just doesn't seem to make much sense in reference to other animals. I would say another right that persons have is the right to life; the right to not be intentionally killed by other persons. I don't know that most of us have the moral conviction to say that if animals are persons, they have the right to life. Vegetarians and vegans, sure, but the rest of us are trampling all over the right to life of cows and chickens and pigs and fish on a daily basis, and I would even say that it's not actually immoral of us to do so (given that we treat the animals humanely before and during the slaughtering process) because we are omnivores by nature, and this is our place on the food chain. Once we start trying to break down the barriers between persons and other animals, things get pretty complicated pretty quickly.

None of that means that I think you should treat chimps in a way that is cruel or contrary to their nature. I absolutely believe that they are sensitive and intelligent creatures that should be treated with dignity and respect. I just don't think that they are "persons" and I still don't understand exactly how deeming them "persons" is even supposed to help them.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I'm sorry, I don't understand what you are arguing - are you saying that we would need to write into the law what each species specifically needs, or are you saying that defining other animals as "persons" somehow clarifies and alleviates that need, or something else?

Well the way you worded, i think it would be very hard to justify we do that for many animals that we keep captive as 'pets', as most are completely removed from their natural environment and put into a situation that hardly resembles it at all....so how can you say this chimp's needs are not being met, but some parrot's needs living in a bird cages or on a perch are? How could we justify clipping wings or deskunking as skunk (yes people do this) I think you can't just write into law "oh well you need to meet the animals needs' and then expect people, law enforcement, or citizens to know what that even means in the context of keeping pets.

As to why I think this personhood thing...or something like it might alleviate the problem better, is that I think making the distinction that this regulation is being made because of the high intelligence of the animal....you know have a context around it, about what you are trying to fix. If you are saying that the animal has human like characteristics then it becomes pretty obvious that keeping it in a cage is bad. We keep non human like things in cages all the time....but would never consider doing that to a human. I guess to me the self-aware thing is pretty big, a distinguishing factor in what you need to provide to an animal.

At the root of it, obviously humans are animals too. I don't think that we are separate from animals. Having said that, just as a fish has different needs from a dog, we have different needs from other animals. My problem is not with recognizing the sort of inherent dignity of different species or thinking that it is okay to treat them cruelly, it's more that I associate "personhood" with rights that seem kind of ridiculous to confer upon a species that has no appreciation or concept or need of them.

Personhood is not granted to humans once they can appreciate it it or understand why they need it. Thats not a qualifying factor to personhood. Some are never aware of their need for it nor can appreciate it.

For example, I believe that all people have the right to free speech. I realize that not all governments recognize that right, but I don't think that means that the people who live in those countries don't have that right, only that they are being denied their rights. What use does a chimp or a fish or a puppy have of the right to free speech?

It doesn't, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a use for other things that are granted with personhood. Like bodily Liberty, which is what this group who filed the lawsuit wants, or ultimately wants to exercise on behalf of the chimp.

I know how ridiculous I sound right now, but I'm just trying to illustrate by that to me "personhood" is kind of a loaded term that just doesn't seem to make much sense in reference to other animals. I would say another right that persons have is the right to life; the right to not be intentionally killed by other persons. I don't know that most of us have the moral conviction to say that if animals are persons, they have the right to life.

I understand what you are saying...they are not equivalents, and there are some things we grant to humans that we do not want to grant to any animal and i agree with that. But i actually do like the idea that there should be a distinction between highly intelligent animals and the rest actually. Or certain animals and the rest.

Vegetarians and vegans, sure, but the rest of us are trampling all over the right to life of cows and chickens and pigs and fish on a daily basis, and I would even say that it's not actually immoral of us to do so (given that we treat the animals humanely before and during the slaughtering process) because we are omnivores by nature, and this is our place on the food chain. Once we start trying to break down the barriers between persons and other animals, things get pretty complicated pretty quickly.

Maybe it gets complicated but i think its worth considering. I guess i dont' think chimpanzees are the same as cows and i see value in protecting them in a different manner. I think anything self aware needs to be treated differently.

None of that means that I think you should treat chimps in a way that is cruel or contrary to their nature.

I think any animal that is being held as a pet, except for highly domesticated ones is probably be treated in a way contrary to their nature, yet i admit i don't have the same desire to protect a snake as i do a chimpanzee.

I absolutely believe that they are sensitive and intelligent creatures that should be treated with dignity and respect. I just don't think that they are "persons" and I still don't understand exactly how deeming them "persons" is even supposed to help them.

I think they feel it is the qualities that we identify as human ones, that are what make the chimpanzee deserving of some rights that are not extended to other, less intelligent animals.

Here is an excerpt from a blog post on their site:

We are arguing that Tommy is being detained in violation of his right to bodily liberty and that he should be released to a reputable sanctuary. There he will live out his days with many other chimpanzees in an environment as close to the wild as possible. We have filed additional lawsuits on behalf of all the known chimpanzees in New York State, including Kiko, a chimpanzee who was exploited for years in the entertainment business, and Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees being used in experiments at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. We had intended to include three other chimpanzees in our lawsuits, but within the past eight months they all died before we could give them their day in court.

Courts recognize that a sufficient, though not necessary condition of a fundamental right like bodily liberty is the possession of certain qualities. With over half a century of scientific evidence to support our legal arguments, and affidavits submitted in support of our lawsuit by an international group of the world’s most respected primatologists, our lawsuits set out to establish that chimpanzees possess such complex cognitive abilities as autonomy, self-determination, self-consciousness, awareness of the past, anticipation of the future, and the ability to make choices; that they display complex emotions like empathy; and that they construct diverse cultures. The possession of these characteristics is sufficient to establish personhood and the consequential fundamental right to bodily liberty.

Our arguments establish that extending legal personhood to all the known chimpanzees in New York is strongly supported by law, science and history. In fact New York law does not limit legal personhood to just human beings. Courts have also routinely extended rights to non-human entities such as corporations.

It is important to note that we are not trying to give human rights to chimpanzees. Human rights belong to human beings. We are advocating for chimpanzee rights for chimpanzees, beginning with the fundamental legal right to bodily liberty.

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Also here is an interesting excerpt from wikipedia about what personhood means in american law

Personhood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A person is recognized by law as such, not because he is human, but because rights and duties are ascribed to him. The person is the legal subject or substance of which the rights and duties are attributes. An individual human being considered to be having such attributes is what lawyers call a "natural person."[20] According to Black's Law Dictionary,[21] a person is:
In general usage, a human being (i.e. natural person), though by statute term may include a firm, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers.
As an application of social psychology and other disciplines, phenomena such as the perception and attribution of personhood have been scientifically studied.[22][23] Typical questions addressed in social psychology are the accuracy of attribution, processes of perception and the formation of bias. Various other scientific/medical disciplines address the myriad of issues in the development of personality.

So it is written in a way that already acknowledges that personhood does not equate to an actual human. Obviously they are pushing the boundaries of this, but its fair to say that to equate legal personhood to 'being human and having all the human rights that go with it' is innaccuarte.

ETA: there is also another part to the article about non-human animals and various beliefs on the subject of personhood. It also mentions other countries such as India, Germany and New Zealand that have granted rights to animals.

I actually think the philosophy is sound, that certain species can reach a certain level of intellect that distinguishes them from other animals....the simple fact that they are not identical to humans or at the same level of humans shouldn't mean we don't consider their special circumstances. I can definitely see how any generic law about keeping animals could fall short of helping this type of animal out.

So after sorting this all out, i think i get it now. Legal personhood should not be equated with 'human' or 'human rights'....legal personhood does give you the ability to recognize an certain entity has rights....it does not mean that they have to be identical rights to a natural human. If anything would prevent this from gaining social support, it would likely be a misunderstanding of what the term means (I didn't really get it until i read the wiki article, and even now i just think I get it). Although i would imagine its well understood among legal professionals.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

Well the way you worded, i think it would be very hard to justify we do that for many animals that we keep captive as 'pets', as most are completely removed from their natural environment and put into a situation that hardly resembles it at all....so how can you say this chimp's needs are not being met, but some parrot's needs living in a bird cages or on a perch are? How could we justify clipping wings or deskunking as skunk (yes people do this) I think you can't just write into law "oh well you need to meet the animals needs' and then expect people, law enforcement, or citizens to know what that even means in the context of keeping pets.

I think that it's possible to a) determine which animals are even suitable to be kept as pets and b) once we have that list of potential pets, identify what domesticated living conditions are acceptable for them based on their natural tendencies. Again, let's say that animal control found a dog that was being kept literally 24/7 in a small dog carrier - based on what we know about dogs, we can say that's not a suitable environment for a dog. From what I know about chimps (admittedly not that much), there really ISN'T a suitable way for a private residence to keep a chimp so that both the chimp and the owner are happy and healthy, so they wouldn't even pass a, let alone need a definition for b. But over all, when we are talking about domesticated animals (which a chimp obviously is not) I don't think it's true that simply because we keep a rabbit in cage, we must be allowed to keep any other pet in a cage, or because we keep a fish in a bowl, we must be allowed to keep any other pet in a bowl. I think (based solely on watching Animal Cops on TLC lol) that we actually already do have teams that are able to make sort of common sense determinations about whether or not a pet's environment is suitable and react accordingly.

Personhood is not granted to humans once they can appreciate it it or understand why they need it. Thats not a qualifying factor to personhood. Some are never aware of their need for it nor can appreciate it.

Certainly not all humans are aware or appreciative of their personhood, but as a species, overwhelmingly we are aware, or at least have the ability to become aware (i.e. your average newborn may not be aware, but he has the potential to become aware.) I don't know that the same would hold true of any chimp anywhere.

Having distinguished that they are ultimately trying to give the chimp "chimpanzee rights" and not human rights, I don't have a problem with that. As I said above, I don't think that private owners should own chimpanzees, and I do think that the chimp should be moved to a sanctuary, so if you want to call that "chimpanzee rights" then that's fine with me. I was just getting thrown by the concept of personhood being applied to the chimp. If you want to set about saying "these animals are particularly intelligent and particularly sensitive to suffering under conditions that might not bother other animals" and then working to ensure that it is illegal to subject chimps to those conditions, I think that's a very worthy cause.

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Yeah but now in light of what legal personhood is, it does sound to me like the way to get chimpanzees, chimpanzee rights...as other countries have done.

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Sorry, after reading the Wiki you posted I still don't really get it (the "personhood" piece, I mean.) I guess they must be on the right track since that is how other countries have done it, but I still don't really get it.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I think that animals have a right to be treated in a way that is appropriate to their needs. I don't know a lot about chimps, but I believe that keeping them in a cage in a house with some toys is probably not appropriate for the chimp, although I do have some sympathy that it sounds like this couple "rescued" the chimp from a bad situation and are doing what they can as a stop gap measure until they can get him into a sanctuary. I don't think that chimps really qualify for "human" rights though. And assuming that they do qualify, what does that mean in a real world scenario? Right now the lawsuit is alleging that the couple is keeping him in "slavery", but what is the alternative? You can't just let a chimp go free in the middle of the US; that could be very dangerous to both humans and the chimp. And even if you could return him to his natural habitat, who knows if, having been raised in captivity, he is equipped to survive on his own in the wild. So from a pratical standpoint, I think that he's certainly not "competent" to be released under his own recognizance, so that leads us back to providing him with a habitat that is appropriate to his needs, which would almost certainly include some sort of captivity, such as a sanctuary.

I pretty much agree with this. I do believe that animals are deserving of a lot more than most people give them. They should be treated as the sentient living beings that they are, and not as disposable toys or inanimate property. The fact that the chimp is living in "a cage" for a while doesn't bother me too much as long as he's being treated in a loving, respectful way while they are finding him a better home, and hopefully he's being let out occasionally for leashed walks, etc. I wouldn't put a 6yo child in "a cage," but you can bet that I would put him in a large enclosure to ensure his, and my own, safety if it became necessary. I imagine this chimp's "cage" is probably pretty similar in size to my living room and I'd never dream of saying that I caged up my kids. I used to put up baby gates to keep my kids safely in my living room (12 x 15) where they had plenty of toys, and no access to electrical plugs or breakable objects or stairs or hot pans; at one point we discussed putting up a second baby gate in the top of each doorway because Weston was learning to climb onto the lower one! :shock:

I wonder if this group is going to start suing on behalf of toddlers strapped into strollers against their will, or on behalf of dogs on leashes, as both of these groups are certainly being more "detained" than this chimp is. :rolleyes: