"What makes you think aliens aren't doing it already?"
A La the Matrix? Perhaps.
"If they are doing it, we wouldn't care."
Once we knew, we would care.
"Because we couldn't notice - anymore than the rats do."
They don't? How do you know?
"Those rats will definitely do a lot better than the rats that I called the exterminator on last week."
Not necessarily. Are they confused, frightened, in pain? Dead might be better.
"The main problem with your argument is that you are granting greater capabilities to the rats than they have. I'm not talking about hypothetical souls, I'm talking about comprehensive power. The rats are not smart enough to understand any of what we are proposing doing to them."
Smart is only part of the issue. What about what happens to them as these things are done to them? What do they experience? Are we right in doing it to them? Why is this needed?
"Secondly, as below, as above fails many ways. It is not transitive. Just as humans ascribe greater rights to a intellectually challenged human than we do to mammals and greater rights to mammals than we do to bacteria (you don't hear about bacteria abuse cases), intelligent aliens should grant greater rights a talking, tool using humans than they do to non-talking, non-tool using mammals. If they don't, then they are no better than criminals that abuse animals."
It succeeds in many ways. And why does it have to be transitive.
We do ascribe greater rights as creatures climb in intellectual capability.
Why should that allow us the right to tamper?
And are we being criminals that abuse animals in doing things like this?
"Rights are not an all or nothing affair - they are granted based on various factors, including intelligence."
I see your point. Pain and discomfort and utility to the species being so used should be part of those "various factors".