Live Video Chat: Should Animals Have Legal Rights?

Last week, an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York counties in an attempt to get judges to declare that chimpanzees are “legal persons” and free them from captivity. The suits are the opening salvo in a coordinated effort to grant legal personhood to a variety of animals across the United States.

On Friday, I moderated a live video chat for Science with two experts on opposite sides of this very contentious issue. One, Steven Wise, is the president of the NonHuman Rights Project and a vocal proponent of animal rights. The other, Richard Cupp, is a law professor at Pepperdine University in California and an influential voice in the anti-personhood movement. Both care about animals, but they have very different ideas of the best way to improve their welfare. Our chat was wide ranging–covering everything from what rights for animals would look like to whether Neanderthals, computers, and space aliens should be granted human rights. It was a fascinating and passionate discussion. I hope you’ll check it out!

–David Grimm, author of the forthcoming book, CITIZEN CANINE: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs.


2 Responses

  1. A very illuminating discussion with well thought out views from both sides; not surprisingly professor Cupp argues (quite convincingly) for a welfare approach guided by human responsibility; but as Steven Wise points out, and as anyone dealing with animals is painfully aware of, there is a long history of human-directed animal abuse and cruelty which has steadily increased to the present day with cruelty that is unparalleled to any other period in human history; quite frankly the welfarist position just doesn’t work because the human species in general lacks the very moral responsibility and conscience which would allow animals to be treated with respect and dignity…and it would only be worse without our present day laws protecting animals….which are still woefully lacking but getting better than they were in the past; at the root of the issue is the view of animals that much of society holds(in this part of the world, at least) which is largely based on anthropocentric philosophy, religion and culture which argue that humans are the measure of all things, which if one believes to be true is nothing to brag about or be proud of.

  2. I am not going to hold back. There should be rights for sex with dogs. I think it should be legal but it should have some rules Like for one. 1 you can have sex with the dog but you can’t abuse the dog at the same time. 2 you must tell police. 3 you must take the dog to the vet every mouth. 4 the dog must be 2 years old. 5 the dog must be medium to large. 6 the human and dog must be up-to-date on shots. 7 the dog must be ok with it. 8 you can’t force the dog. 9 you can’t fuck a male dog. 10 the dog can’t be pregnant. 11 it must be your own dog. 12 when the dog dies it must have a proper grave. 13 you are the dog can’t have a disease. 14 the dog must be feed and water and in a proper living space. 15 you can’t force other people to have sex with dogs.

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