Re: SOC/LAW: Chimp Rights

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2000 - 15:48:26 MST

> >And doing so is not without cost: medical research on chimps
> >has made real differences in all our lives.
> I suppose it must have made some difference for some lives,
> but I have doubts that it is much difference for most lives.
> What evidence would you offer for this claim?

The Foundation for Biomedical Research <>
is a good place to start; they are an advocacy group, but they do
generally have their facts straight.

It is true that most medical research on primates is not done
with great apes but rather with monkeys like tamarins and
macaques [insert generic "slippery slope" argument here]. It
is also true that the number of people who can specifically
trace improvements in their lives to specific uses of primate
medical research are probably few. But to judge the true impact
of this research, you have to include everyone who might have
contracted a disease but for a vaccine tested or researched on
apes (AIDS is a major one but not the only), or who had any such
ancestor, or who benefited from an advance by one of those people,
or who benefited from an advance by someone who was affected by
one of those people...

Just because I didn't personally directly benefit from some
Orangutan on psychotropic drugs or something, I am not willing
to overlook the possibility that I owe some significant part of
my life to someone who did.

>From a rationally selfish point of view, the reason I grant
rights to people is that interacting with people in an environment
of such rights generates advantages for me: specialization, trade,
reciprocity, etc. I live a better life because I choose to support
and work within a system of human rights. When short-term narrow
circumstances change that dynamic--such as when I am being robbed
at gunpoint--I would not hesitate to sacrifice another human life
to save my own because that after all is my final goal: my life.
It may be that I can accrue some benefits by supporting a system
that grants some such rights to apes. I can't enumerate them, but
nor can I rule them out. But unless I can justify this grant in
selfish terms, I find it difficult to support rationally.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:03:25 MDT