Why do people have rights in the first
place? Suppose future space exploration discovers a planet
populated by highly intelligent beings, with an exquisitely rich
culture dating back several millennia, who look not at all human.
Wouldn’t it make sense to recognize them as rights-bearing
creatures anyway? And wouldn’t that make more sense than
attributing human rights to mannequins—which look very much like
humans, but have no human capacities? A question like that might
seem too fanciful, writes A. Barton Hinkle. But from chimpanzees to
artificial intelligence, science is raising important questions
about just who, and what, has rights.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/18/a-barton-hinkle-on-nonhuman-rights