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News From The Nonhuman Rights Project:

12 December 2017, 4:30 pm
<p>In November I traveled to Stockholm and Helsinki to lecture about the work of the Nonhuman Rights Project, to engage in Q&A sessions with audiences following showings of Unlocking the Cage, and to meet the Swedish and Finnish lawyers, legal scholars, and law students who have so diligently been working to lay the foundation for... <a class="view-article" href="">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">A Proposal for a New Taxonomy of Animal Law</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>

5 December 2017, 9:36 pm
<p>Scientific evidence of nonhuman animals’ cognitive and emotional complexity is a vital part of the Nonhuman Rights Project. We bring it into court (in the form of affidavits submitted by ethologists and other animal experts) to help us demonstrate why it makes no sense to continue to treat all nonhuman animals as “things” under the... <a class="view-article" href="">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Encouraging Respect for Animals Through Children’s Nonfiction: An Interview with Nancy Castaldo</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>

28 November 2017, 5:15 pm
<p>After a lengthy and rigorous evaluation process, Animal Charity Evaluators has again designated the Nonhuman Rights Project a Standout Charity in its December 2017 Updated Charity Recommendations. The NhRP is one of nine Standout Charities and the only organization among the 12 ACE recommends that is working to secure actual legal rights for nonhuman animals. “Attempting... <a class="view-article" href="">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">NhRP Designated an ACE “Standout Charity”</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>

18 November 2017, 3:41 pm
<p>NhRP Executive Director Kevin Schneider appeared on Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co. to discuss the NhRP’s work in relation to the Trump administration’s decision to reverse a ban on importing “elephant trophies.” As Kevin said on air in response to host Stuart Varney asking about how his grandchildren will be able to appreciate elephants if... <a class="view-article" href="">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">The NhRP’s Kevin Schneider: To Truly Protect Elephants, We Need to Recognize Their Rights</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>

13 November 2017, 8:20 pm
<p>For over 200 years, Americans have held captive members of one of the most cognitively and emotionally complex species on earth: elephants. In 1796, an elephant named Old Bet was brought from India to the US where she was purchased by Hackaliah Bailey, the founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus, and transported around the country... <a class="view-article" href="">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">It’s Time to Recognize Elephants’ Personhood And Rights</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>

13 November 2017, 8:19 pm
<p>I ask upon what pinnacle do we base human life and well-being that denies all rights whatsoever to every species but our own? … Those who refuse to help erect the milestones are not on the march. – Lord (Douglas) Houghton (1898-1996) Today is a momentous day for elephants that many of us in the... <a class="view-article" href="">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Friends of Lucy’s Lori Sirianni: Why We Support Recognition of Elephants’ Nonhuman Rights</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>

13 November 2017, 8:19 pm
<p>Every week, CompassionWorks International (CWI) observes, investigates, and reports on the unforgivable levels of abuse suffered by elephants currently confined to the circus. At each and every circus performance, the elephants can be witnessed in a state of agitation or despair. They rock back and forth, make repetitive head movements, or engage in other stereotypical behavior,... <a class="view-article" href="">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">CWI’s Carrie LeBlanc: We Must Lift the Law Out of the 19th Century and Recognize Elephants’ Rights</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>

13 November 2017, 8:19 pm
<p>Elephants are better than us. From their earliest moments in the wild, they learn the meaning of family, and they are taught empathy, proper communication, etiquette, survival skills, and love. Female elephants stay with their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins for life. Each member of the family plays an integral part in promoting loyalty... <a class="view-article" href="">View Article</a></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Save Nosey Now’s Barbara Lovett: Elephants Aren’t Ours To Use and Abuse</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">Nonhuman Rights Project</a>.</p>

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The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness*

On this day of July 7, 2012, a prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and computational neuroscientists gathered at The University of Cambridge to reassess the neurobiological substrates of conscious experience and related behaviors in human and non-human animals. While comparative research on this topic is naturally hampered by the inability of non-human animals, and often humans, to clearly and readily communicate about their internal states, the following observations can be stated unequivocally:

· The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the correlates of consciousness.

· The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions generates corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-human animals. Wherever in the brain one evokes instinctual emotional behaviors in non-human animals, many of the ensuing behaviors are consistent with experienced feeling states, including those internal states that are rewarding and punishing. Deep brain stimulation of these systems in humans can also generate similar affective states. Systems associated with affect are concentrated in subcortical regions where neural homologies abound. Young human and nonhuman animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. Furthermore, neural circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).

· Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in particular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.

· In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical feedforward and feedback processing. Pharmacological interventions in non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious behavior in humans can lead to similar perturbations in behavior in non-human animals. In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness. Evidence that human and nonhuman animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.

We declare the following: “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

* The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was written by Philip Low and edited by Jaak Panksepp, Diana Reiss, David Edelman, Bruno Van Swinderen, Philip Low and Christof Koch. The Declaration was publicly proclaimed in Cambridge, UK, on July 7, 2012, at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals, at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, by Low, Edelman and Koch. The Declaration was signed by the conference participants that very evening, in the presence of Stephen Hawking, in the Balfour Room at the Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, UK. The signing ceremony was memorialized by CBS 60 Minutes.

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness can be downloaded Here

News From the IEET:

  • What Happens When We Design Babies?

    In this episode we discuss the prospect of designer babies. As genetic engineering and reproductive technologies continue to advance, parents are likely to gain unprecedented control over their offspring. We discuss some of the recent progress in germ line engineering and speculate about the degree of manipulation that might be possible in the near term. But perhaps more importantly, we discuss some of the ethical and policy implications of such advances. Will designer babies pave the way for a healthier and happier society or are we in for a more dystopian outcome?

  • John G. Messerly What Is The Point of Money?

    Wealth is necessary in order to live well, but it is not sufficient. You may have lots of money but live terribly without friends or wisdom. You may have mistaken part of a good life—sufficient wealth to live—with the whole of the good life. For money isn’t an end in itself, it is merely a means to an end.

  • Steve Fuller A Modest Proposal for Suicide as a Facilitator of Transhumanism

    Perhaps the most potent argument against suicide in modern secular societies is that it constitutes wastage of the agent’s own life and commits at the very least indirect harm to the lives of others who in various ways have depended on the agent. However, the force of this argument could be mitigated if the suicide occurred in the context of experimentation, including self-experimentation, with very risky treatments that aim to extend the human condition. Suicides in these cases could be quite informative and hence significantly advance the prospects of the rest of humanity. The suicide agent’s life would most certainly not have been in vain.

  • Hadrian Pourbahman Le progrès doit-il se conformer au droit ?

    Avis d’un juriste sur la question.

    Hadrien Pourbahman est étudiant en droit et membre de l’Association Française Transhumaniste. En début d’année, il avait effectué un stage avec Didier Coeurnelle sur le thème « Vers une reconnaissance d’un droit à la longévité », dont vous pouvez lire le résumé ici.

  • Steve Fuller Tomorrow’s Problem of Good and Evil: The Challenges of Trans- and Post- Humanism

    A conception of evil that carries over from the Abrahamic religions into secular modernity is that of the ‘disorganization of the soul’. The idea here is that evil isn’t something separate from good but something that arises from the malformation or malfunctioning of good parts. Thus, Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost is God’s best angel gone rogue, the template for the villains faced by comic book superheroes. Many if not most mental illnesses, from neurosis to autism, are defined as some sort of ‘disorder’. In a similar but grander vein, cybernetics founder Norbert Wiener regarded entropy – the ultimate expression of disorganization in physics – as the material equivalent of evil, the source of all suffering, decay and death.

  • B. J. Murphy Cyborg Dad Fights to Regain Custody of Children - You Can Help

    There is no doubt anymore that informational science and technologies are growing at an exponential pace. As a result, many are beginning to use those technologies to augment and enhance their own biological substrate. It is the first time in history where there is now a growing population of cyborgs whom live among us.

  • What will humans look like in 100 years?

    We can evolve bacteria, plants and animals — futurist Juan Enriquez asks: Is it ethical to evolve the human body? In a visionary talk that ranges from medieval prosthetics to present day neuroengineering and genetics, Enriquez sorts out the ethics associated with evolving humans and imagines the ways we’ll have to transform our own bodies if we hope to explore and live in places other than Earth.


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