One of the greatest threats to human exceptionalism comes from the ideology of people who work in the life and environmental science sector, who it seems, take every opportunity to subvert and undermine our self concept as the unique species in the known universe. The latest example can be found on the blog of the science journal Nature describing a session on dolphins to be presented at the upcoming American Association for the Advancement of Science national conference. From the blog:
A way forward in our dealings with dolphins is suggested by Thomas White, of Loyola Marymount University. He calls for the development of an “interspecies ethic” for governing relations between people and the “non-human people” that are dolphins. “Accomplishing this will require considerably more scientific research that demonstrates the cognitive and affective sophistication of dolphins and that uncovers more about the basic conditions that foster the welfare of both individual dolphins and their communities. Yet developing such an ethic could mark a significant turning point in the relationship between humans and other intelligent beings on the planet,” he writes.
No, dolphins are not people. They are delightful higher mammals. Human exceptionalism requires that we treat them humanely based on their capacities—unlike dolphins, we can be held morally accountable for our actions. But it is anti human to claim that they are equivalent to us as “people.” That such attitudes are being presented with a straight face at the prestigious AAAS national conference is a symptom of a serious underlying disease.