«Anthropoid Rights and Paternalism»
Anti-animalists allege that, since humans alone are capable of engaging in some sort of higher-order practical reasoning and of being led in their behaviour by moral values, non-human animals may not be treated as persons. I argue that such a view is wrong. The difference is just one of degree. Freedom is just one value among others, not the supreme one; the differences of treatment humans and other anthropoids are entitled to do not hinge upon the question of paternalism, since humans, too, have to be treated paternalistically sometimes, at least in certain respects. Admittedly, every paternalistic action impinges on the concerned agent's freedom, thus clashing with the value of liberty. Hence, either it is unjustified or else a conflict of values arises. But there are many such conflicts, or dilemmas.
One of the good things of being good or fair to our cousins the apes is that we gain a deeper insight into ourselves. We are apes after all. What is the end of their lives is also the end or goal of ours: to live, and to live well; to secure such a life both for ourselves and others.
I am not erasing or obliterating differences of degree. Nor am I denying that they may be important when confronted with moral dilemmas. How much important are they? After recent research we now know that in most relevant respects the discrepancy between humans and other apes is small. They are much more human-like than we were used to think. And we are much more ape-like than we had fancied to imagine.
- WordPerfect 5.1