Steven Wise: Chimps have feelings and thoughts. They should also have rights
Steven Wise - Animal rights lawyer
By challenging long-held legal notions of “personhood”, Steven Wise seeks to grant cognitively advanced animals access to a full spectrum of fundamental rights. Full bio
or the cars you own.
to my book or my car.
named James Mollison
"James & Other Apes."
how every single one them,
die before his eyes.
a great legal wall
from legal persons.
are invisible to judges.
the capacity for legal rights.
are the legal persons.
for an infinite number of rights.
are legal things.
synonymous with a legal person.
are not synonymous.
over the centuries
were sometimes legal things.
struggle over the last centuries
through that wall and begin to feed
and have them become legal persons.
limited to human beings.
legal persons who are not even alive.
that corporations are legal persons.
was a legal person,
of the Sikh religion was a legal person,
the indigenous peoples of New Zealand
that a river was a legal person
of lush, brown hair,
I wanted to speak for the voiceless,
and defenseless the trillions,
as an animal protection lawyer.
to accomplish something
I was trying to defend,
was they had, at least some of them,
that we could open up again in that wall
nonhuman animals through that hole
of being legal persons.
very little known about or spoken about
or legal rights for a nonhuman animal,
to take a long time.
would take about 30 years
a strategic litigation,
to punch another hole through that wall.
that it only took 28.
to begin was not only
and teach classes, write books,
to get down to the nuts and bolts
was figure out what a cause of action was,
is a vehicle that lawyers use
a very interesting case
in London called Somerset vs. Stewart,
had used the legal system
to a legal person.
eventually wrote an entire book about it.
when he was kidnapped from West Africa.
named Charles Stewart in Virginia.
brought James Somerset to London,
he was going to escape.
was to get himself baptized,
a set of godparents,
responsibilities of godfathers
with Charles Stewart.
but then James dropped out of sight.
then hired slave catchers
not back to Charles Stewart,
that was floating in London Harbour,
in the slave markets
years of life that a slave had
swung into action.
of the court of King's Bench,
a common law writ of habeus corpus
that English-speaking judges can make
by statutes or constitutions,
is called the Great Writ,
who are detained against our will.
to bring the detainee in
for depriving him of his bodily liberty.
a decision right off the bat,
was a legal thing,
for a writ of habeus corpus,
that he would assume,
was indeed a legal person,
and James's body was brought in
over the next six months.
said that slavery was so odious,
and he ordered James free.
underwent a legal transubstantiation.
out of the courtroom
who had walked in,
they had nothing whatsoever in common.
the Nonhuman Rights Project,
what kind of values and principles
did they imbibe with their mother's milk,
do they use every day,
and we chose liberty and equality.
to which you're entitled
protects a fundamental interest.
in a common law country,
life-saving medical treatment,
your self-determination and your autonomy.
of right to which you're entitled
in a relevant way,
they have the right, you're like them,
draw lines all the time.
at the bare minimum you must --
to a legitimate end.
argues that drawing a line
and self-determining being
to find the jurisdiction
filing our first suit.
who our plaintiffs are going to be.
was on our board of directors,
intensively for decades.
cognitive capabilities that they have,
that human beings have.
and we began to then canvass the world
in chimpanzee cognition.
Scotland, England and the United States,
100 pages of affidavits
that they were conscious.
that they're conscious.
They know that others have minds.
and that they can live.
and they will live tomorrow.
They remember what happened yesterday.
a chimpanzee, especially alone.
to our worst criminals,
without even thinking about it.
with human beings,
even when they're not required to do so.
They understand numbers.
or to stay out of the language wars,
and referential communication
to the attitudes of those
a social culture.
in the Ivory Coast
these rocks to smash open
to learn how to do that,
and they found
this way of doing it,
for at least 4,300 years
in the state of New York.
we could even get our suits filed.
You see him behind me.
We found him in that cage.
that was filled with cages
trailer lot in central New York.
storefront in western Massachusetts.
anatomical research at Stony Brook.
suits all across the state of New York
writ of habeus corpus argument
these common law writs of habeus corpus.
to Save the Chimps,
sanctuary in South Florida
with 12 or 13 islands --
where two dozen chimpanzees live
the life of a chimpanzee,
that was as close to Africa as possible.
our Lord Mansfield.
litigation campaign. We shall.
is that they're not the end,
the end of the beginning.
About the speaker:Steven Wise - Animal rights lawyer
By challenging long-held legal notions of “personhood”, Steven Wise seeks to grant cognitively advanced animals access to a full spectrum of fundamental rights.
Why you should listen
Using a long-term litigation campaign based on existing habeas corpus law, Steven Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project are redefining the playing field for animal rights law. While the high-profile New York lawsuits Wise has initiated on behalf of captive chimpanzees have yet to bear fruit, they’re only the first stage of a strategy that is changing the conversation about animal rights.
Wise’s work with the Nonhuman Rights Project is the subject of Unlocking the Cage, a forthcoming film by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker.
Steven Wise | Speaker | TED.com