Feature

A sensible approach to animal rights

A reasonable approach to granting legal rights to animals is to evaluate species on a case-by-case basis. <em></em>

Adam Cohen
The New York Times

Even if primates aren’t people, said Adam Cohen, that doesn’t mean they should have no rights at all. That’s why governments around the world are warming to the idea of treating our nearest evolutionary relatives fairly. Spain’s parliament “recently passed a resolution granting legal rights to apes,” banning research that would harm them and barring their exploitation in circuses. “Granting legal rights to apes is, of course, easy to mock.” And activists don’t help their cause by arguing that apes—indeed, that all animals—should have all the same rights as human beings. A more reasonable approach is to evaluate species on a case-by-case basis, granting animals rights “that are deemed appropriate to their status.” In the case of apes, this would mean broad protection indeed. “Chimps and humans share about 98 percent of their DNA,” and it’s clear that simians have feelings, family and friendship bonds, thoughts, and even “complex communication skills.” Far from diminishing humans, as critics claim, granting rights and respect to apes “would elevate humans at the same time.”

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