Perhaps as a sign of things to come, first there was the case of the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-human Biotechnology and their moral consideration of plants' rights. Among the natural questions that arise are: What is a plant, and why stop there? Now, a New York Times column reports, the Spanish Parliament granted limited rights to non-human primates. It seems near-certain that the extent of rights and freedoms will be weighed by phylogenetic position and the phenotypic measurement of "human qualities."
There are, of course, other outstanding questions. Will the governments choose to go rank-free? Will they use parsimony? Will they assume that all polytomies are soft? Which species will get shafted because of the Felsenstein Zone?
As we wait for those and other answers, I recommend a perusal of the opening passage of that Times column:
"If you caught your son burning ants with a magnifying glass, would it bother you less than if you found him torturing a mouse with a soldering iron? How about a snake? How about his sister?"