Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Habeas corpus hearing for U.S. chimpanzees could change ethics radically for human beings

Jane Goodall, please take note. None other than Rolling Stone magazine has just published on the groundbreaking legal case of two chimpanzees being granted a hearing in a habeas corpus application in the U.S., with the hearing coming up late in May 2015. This is not only a huge step in the potential advancement of rights for apes, it has a potential to radically alter the ethical context for human beings. This is because ethics as we know it is basically for relationships between human beings, within the privileged circle of humanity (from which women, children and aboriginals, etc. were once excluded but are now included), and does not extend outside that privileged circle, to "objects" and "things." In the chimpanzee hearing, a university research centre will have to argue to the contrary, that apes are things and objects that can be owned and used like slaves without their consent and have no right to freedom. If this habeas corpus application is successful, that privileged circle will extend to the first time outside homo sapiens. Coincidentally, I am scheduled to give a paper at a critical thinking conference in San Francisco in July on this topic and had dinner recently with Steven Wise, the brilliant and compassionate U.S. animal rights lawyer who is pursing the case through his foundation, the Nonhuman Rights Project.

Rolling Stone article:
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