Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Are Dolphins People? What are "People" Anyway?


As a psychotherapist, I'm interested in many aspects of living of all living things, including the earth sciences, and to this end, am a member of a scientific community listserve.

Recently, Alla Katsnelson, news editor at The Scientist, online magazine of the Life Sciences, posted something that especially resonated for me regarding Tim's interactions with the cetacean Scientist-Healers who hold leadership roles on "Borrowed From Angels" (as documented in The Risen.)

Alla writes: "Studies are increasingly showing that dolphins are more intelligent than we've given them credit for, and research reported in the last few days suggests they’re more intelligent than chimps. Yet a recent documentary called The Cove describes dolphins being regularly slaughtered for food.

"Do we need to change how we think about these creatures, and provide them with special protection? And what does the phrase 'non-human persons' — a phrase used to describe the status they should have — actually mean?"

One scientist responded, "Yes they should be protected. Indeed, what does 'person' mean? This is long overdue. We keep finding more and more about how similar other species are to us, breaking down the psychological barriers of us and them. The Precautionary Principle applied to ethics/morality (in this case regarding other species) should be even more stringent than applied to ecology/biology in which it is often not applied strongly enough."

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