RE “WHO you calling smart” (Ideas, Feb. 2):
Psychologist Justin Gregg invites us to question the notion that dolphins are uniquely intelligent among non-human animals, and thus any claim that they have a unique moral status above the other species.
He rejects this argument, but for the wrong reasons. It is morally wrong to harm or kill any sentient animal unnecessarily, whatever its level of intelligence. A chicken or pig has as much interest in avoiding pain and death as a dolphin. If it isn’t necessary to harm or kill them, we are obligated not to.
Why, then, do many people think dolphins deserve more rights than chickens or pigs? There might be many explanations. But as a practical matter, if we were to recognize the rights of the animals we raise for food and other nonessential uses, we would realize we could not justify their exploitation.
Recognizing the rights of dolphins changes little for the average American. Since we do not need to consume animal products to be happy and healthy, recognizing the rights of other animals means that we should become vegan and stop supporting animal use.