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"Maybe we'd be better off saying certain categories of animals deserve a higher level of ethical and legal consideration."

Ethicists use the term animal welfare (as opposed to animal rights) for this reason. No one at least at this point thinks that animals should be allowed to vote, which is what equal rights for animals would imply.

Nobody said anything about equal rights, just rights. That's why they want to encourage discussion, to figure out what rights they would be given.

Surely this is mainly due to the language barriers though? If we could fully communicate, what then?

Not sure what fully communicate would mean? Do you suppose that dolphins have some untapped literary and rhetoric ability that once man figures out how to decode, we will be exposed to the a whole host of new great works?

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