A group of scientists is advocating for a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans, which would recognize dolphins and whales as “non-human persons,” thereby endowing them with the same legal rights to life and freedom as humans. The proposal, discussed at last week’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, cites advances in cetacean research as proof of the mammals’ advanced cognitive abilities—abilities so sophisticated that experts say harming or killing them is as ethically unsound as harming or killing human beings. Ethics professor Tom White from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, an advocate of the declaration, says, “The science has shown that individuality—consciousness, self-awareness—is no longer a unique human property. That poses all kinds of challenges.”
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