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A rather limited set of rights to be sure. Children, unless emancipated, lack a great deal of the rights that adults enjoy.

Perhaps this is the best way to legally consider dolphins. They have approximately the same rights as human children, until any one of them decides to ask for more.




Short of new mutations, no dolphin has ever, is, or will ever be a fully functioning member of society.

Rules of thumb regarding treatment of immature or disabled humans is not at all appropriate.


Fully functioning in society seems to be setting the bar too high; we don't consider that a prerequisite for rights in humans by any reasonable interpretation.

Now, will dolphins ever communicate their desire to achieve greater legal consideration? Not unless we put some more effort into researching communication with dolphins (and even then, I strongly suspect not). Not really a problem though I think.


we don't consider that a prerequisite for rights in humans by any reasonable interpretation.

You miss my point. It's not a requirement for any individual, but it IS a requirement for members of a species in general. Most humans are functioning members of society. The ones that aren't, whether it's temporary or permanent are protected implicitly and explicitly through social contract and the laws we've created.

No dolphin will ever be a functioning member of our society, thus dolphins are not part of society, thus dolphins do not take on the responsibilities of being in a relationship with humans, thus dolphins are not entitled to parallel status.


>"but it IS a requirement for members of a species in general."

Is it? Considering we have never before in recorded history extended such consideration to another species, it seems unlikely that there are existing standards we can look to.

There are many things you can observe "most" humans doing, but that does not mean those things are all prerequisites for special legal and ethical consideration.


>It's not a requirement for any individual, but it IS a requirement for members of a species in general.

How can you possibly make that sort of generalization when there is only one species that is commonly accepted as having rights?


No, it is not a requirement, that is what the discussion is about. If it were a requirement, we wouldn't be trying to decide if it should be a requirement or not. Using a sample size of one to prove a point is absurd.


I'm not saying it's a proof by statistics. It's a requirement in order for the system to maintain logical consistency.

We can do whatever we want. We can give citizenship rights to gummy bears because they look like real bears and bears have two arms and two legs just like people. It would be illogical and counterproductive to any real advancement for society, though.


Reductio ad absurdum isn't helping your case. You haven't made an argument, just assertions. Why would giving some rights to a non-human animal break "logical consistency"? Just saying it does is meaningless, provide an argument.


Do a grep through this thread for my userid. I've made my argument in several places. Basically, acquiring human status requires interactive and consensual participation in a relationship/society.

Exhibiting some rudimentary social behaviors doesn't qualify as accepting the responsibilities along with the rights accorded with status.


Yes, and lots of people pointed out how that argument is just a red herring. You didn't come back with an actual argument, so pointing back to the fallacious one doesn't accomplish anything.


>a fully functioning member of society

What does that even mean?


I don't know, but I do know that if we all accepted that as a standard we would be in a much worse off place as a society since most times I hear the phrase "fully functioning member of society" the implied alternative is usually "penniless hippy".


Not sure where to start. How about if you imagine that a member of Society defined here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society

Participates in one.


If "participates" in society is sufficient for "fully functioning member of society", then at a minimum, trained dolphins who perform in shows are fully functioning members of society. They have complex interactions with their trainers, including fairly high level communication, and they perform work in exchange for goods (fish).


For that matter, you could make a strong case for dogs as well. How many thousands work for us?


What you are suggesting basically just amounts to "dolphins cannot be a part of society because currently society only includes humans, and dolphins are different than humans."

We are proposing a re-definition.


What you are suggesting ...

That's not in the least what I'm suggesting.

Dolphins cannot participate in our society by agreement. They don't understand what participating is. They're captured or born in captivity and then trained to perform a few tricks. They are beautiful and fascinating, but they have no contributions to make to the fiber of our society that can't be made by other animals, machines, or even simple objects.

They are able to do nothing further. Giving them a new status is just semantics. They are fundamentally not functioning members of our society. Not individually. Not as a species.


What I would like to see is a special legal status/recognition given to dolphins. My motivation for wanting to see this done is that I think it would provide a sort of precedence for extending traditionally human rights to things that are not traditionally seen as equals of humans. I think there is a possibility that doing so may become necessary in the future, when "machines" and intelligence begin to blur.


Black people aren't functioning members of our society either, said Jefferson Davis.

Poor people don't contribute to our fiber of society in a way that can't be replaced by machines, said Mitt Romney.




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