Are humans the only persons on the planet?
Two zoologists and an ethicist have created a stir in the silly season
after Christmas by announcing that dolphins should be counted as
"Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size," says Lori Marino,
a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. "The neuroanatomy
suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has
profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions."
She believes that dolphins are even more intellitent than chimpanzees,
who appear to have the IQ of a 3-year-old child.
Dr Marino and her colleagues will make a
presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science
conference in February. Diana Reiss,
of Hunter College, in New York, will argue that dolphins are cultural
animals who can communicate behaviour, are altruistic and have
self-awareness. Thomas I. White,
a professor of business ethics at Loyola Marymount University in
California who also does research in animal ethics, will present the
philosophical case for regarding dolphins as "nonhuman persons."
The implications of overturning our
speciesist misconceptions are obvious: no more dolphins in theme parks
and on dinner plates. ~ London Sunday Times, Jan 3 ; Nature, Jan 4