Thursday, March 31, 2011

Should We Treat our Close Genetic Siblings the Same? [Serge]

I hope the boss enjoyed his stay in our fair state at the best university in the nation. As a follow up, it is only in places like the University of Michigan where ideas such as the Great Ape Project can be conceived. Since academia believes that human are really no different than other apes, the Great Ape Project believes that we should give advanced primates the same type of "human" rights that we now deny to human beings in the fetal stage of development. Here is a page describing the gorilla, which shares 97.5% of our DNA, as a peaceful vegetarian who shows great emotion.

Should we grant gorillas the same human rights as we do newborn humans? If we do, I believe we have a big problem. You see, in the wild, gorillas travel in packs of a dominant male and many females. When the male dies or gets beaten in a fight, the new dominant male tends to do something that the peaceful description of these animals neglected to mention. The new male will brutally kill all of the infants that the other male had fathered. Gorilla infanticide is widely known and is not in dispute.

This may be related to high rates of infanticide documented among mountain gorillas at Karisoke. Infants deprived of protection by an adult male are almost certain to be killed and as a tactic to protect against this, females join new groups in the absence of a silverback (Watts 1989). Until recently, infanticide had only been recorded among mountain gorillas; direct evidence now exists for eastern lowland gorillas and indirect evidence has been recorded among western lowland gorillas (Stokes et al. 2003; Stoinski pers. comm.).

So, if we grant gorillas the same rights that we have as human beings, should we not hold them to the same moral standard as we do a human being that would exhibit this behavior? If a human man began a new relationship and the first thing he did when he moved in was to kill all of the children who lived in the house we would consider him a moral monster of the highest sort. However, when one of our "closest genetic relatives" exhibits this behavior we don't treat them the same way. If they are deserving of human rights, we should this be so?

Still think there is little difference between human beings and other animals?

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