July 23, 2008
Apes, legal personhood and the plight of Nim Chimpsky.
8 years ago
Can't listen at the moment, so sorry if my comments are not a propos. I think the key point is that chimps are sophisticated creatures and certainly capable of a very high level of suffering; so they ought to be treated decently and with respect. But trying to get them human rights seems to me confusing and liable to weaken the case. Legal personhood, as I understand it, is more or less exactly the bit of human legal status that chimps don't need. Corporations and other bodies have legal personhood; it allows ownership of property, contractual obligations, and so on, without any rights to welfare or whatever. If I'm wrong I hope one of m'learned monkey friends here will explain the position properly.
You can read the transcript on the page, Pleg. It's quite interesting. The point about the Austrian chimp, Matthew, is that with legal personhood he could be given a legal guardian. In this event, he could avoid being sold off as an "asset" because a "mysterious businessman" is prepared to pay for his upkeep if the funds are managed by his guardian.
Doh! But what's the point of giving him legal personhood merely in order to take all the relevant rights away again immediately and confer them on a legal guardian? He's still in effect an asset of his guardian, isn't he - it's just that the guardian's rights are now entrenched. Is that good for the chimp? Maybe, maybe not at all; but either way his legal personhood is effectively a fiction. I think the reference to "clever hands phenomena" is a misunderstanding for
> misunderstanding for Clever Hans That makes sense. I was wondering why "clever hands" sounded familiar but somehow wrong.
has personhood, why not Nim?
In other news:
New Zealand Grants a River the Rights of Personhood
^Yes. De facto personhood should extend to preserving the best things left <:(!)
Better rivers than corporations.