According to a BBC News report, scientists believe dolphins should have effectively 'human' rights as 'non-persons'
I wonder why should 'rights' be based on perceived intelligence... I wrote down some notes from a book some time ago on the subject of animal intelligence, i'll jot them down here as I thought it was interesting...
“The term intelligence has many different meanings and often used in a very superficial way. First, any kind of ‘intelligence’ reflects only the particular aspect of behaviour which was actually observed and tested under given conditions. Second intelligence was originally invented as a measure for individual variability in flexible problem-solving abilities (in humans). This means that it is questionable to use the concept of intelligence in a comparative perspective e.g. by looking for breed differences in animals or arguing that one species is more or less intelligent than another. The reason for this is simple. Each species has evolved different abilities and individuals experience a different aspect of the environment in which they grow up. Thus it is particularly difficult to design a task that can pose a problem that is similar to members of different species. This is because differential genetic and environmental inputs will also influence the mental potential of the individual to solve the task. Thus it seems to be wiser to retain the use of intelligence in its original meaning, to describe variability among individuals belonging to a genetically well-characterized population, e.g. breed or species. All other use of ‘intelligence’ should be replaced by reference to difference in cognitive abilities.”
I also remember reading a study comparing snake and mouse intelligence by their ability to navigate through a maze. it was concluded that the mouse was more intelligent having much greater skill at navigating through the maze than the snake but was later reviewed and deemed unfair as the study was conducted in favour of the mouses evolutionary abilities as it would naturally tackle complex tunnel systems whereas such a task is alien to the snake.
If by 'rights' they actually mean protection I have to consider that other animals will fear and hurt in the same manner regardless of 'intelligence' so why should intelligence really come into it, I suppose it's because using terms like intelligence somehow makes an animal 'more human' we can relate to them better that way and almost feel that we must treat them more human too. That's not to say i'm against giving dolphins greater protection or anything like that lol, but any 'rights' given to an animal will never be 'human' rights as our rights rely on us also understanding that we must not violate the rights of others and if we do there are penalties to pay for it. This can't be communicated to animals so the best we can do is grant them more protection from humans.