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!