No Monkeying Around: Animals Can and Will Have Human Rights
Dr Alasdair Cochrane has been in the media this week, discussing a court case in the US which is considering whether chimpanzees are entitled to ‘legal personhood’.
Tommy the chimp could be entitled to legal personhood according to an animal rights lawyer, Steven Wise, who is looking to extend rights historically reserved for humans to other intelligent animals.
In a new article for The Conversation, Dr Cochrane, Lecturer in Political Theory, argues that "basic human rights should not be extended to all things, but certainly should be extended to all other animals who possess conscious life."
Dr Cochrane was also featured in an article on the court case in the London Evening Standard earlier this week.
Speaking on the case, Dr Cochrane said: “The question being considered is whether human rights can transcend the species divide. While all societies have provided some legal protections in respect of animals, they have so far remained steadfast in their view that the human species merits quite different and far greater provision.
“Traditionally the justification for this human chauvinism was the fact that we humans alone possess souls. More recently, it has been based on our cognitive complexity. But as the advanced powers of other animals, such as chimpanzees, becomes better understood, it is little surprise that the legal wall that divides humans from other animals is being chipped away. It is my view that it is just a matter of time until it crumbles.”