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Science

Should Dolphins Be Treated As Non-Human Persons? 785

Hugh Pickens writes "Dolphins have long been recognized as among the most intelligent of animals, but now the Times reports that a series of behavioral studies suggest that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self, can think about the future and are so bright that they should be treated as 'non-human persons.' 'Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size,' says Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University. 'The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions.' For example, one study found that dolphins can recognize their image in a mirror as a reflection of themselves — a finding that indicates self-awareness similar to that seen in higher primates and elephants. Other studies have found that dolphins are capable of advanced cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, artificial language comprehension, and complex social behavior, indicating that dolphins are far more intellectually and emotionally sophisticated than previously thought. Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, has written a series of academic studies suggesting dolphins should have rights, claiming that the current relationship between humans and dolphins is, in effect, equivalent to the relationship between whites and black slaves two centuries ago."
Businesses

Our Low-Tech Tax Code 691

theodp writes "After establishing that nothing can excuse Joe Stack's murderous intentional plane crash into an IRS office, a NY Times Op-Ed explains the reference in Stack's suicide note to an obscure federal tax law — Section 1706 of the 1986 tax act — which the software engineer claimed declared him a 'criminal and non-citizen slave' and ruined his career. Interestingly, a decade-old NY Times article on Section 1706 pretty much agreed: 'The immediate effect of these [Section 1706] audits is to force individual programmers ... to abandon their dreams of getting rich off their high-technology skills.' Section 1706, the NYT Op-Ed concludes, 'is an example of how Congress enacted a discriminatory law that hurt thousands of technology consultants, their staffing firms and customers. And despite strong bipartisan efforts and unbiased studies supporting that law's repeal, it remains on the books.'"

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