Candidates for Near-Personhood

Gary E. Varner

in Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199758784
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949465 | DOI:
Candidates for Near-Personhood

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“Near-persons” are like persons insofar as they have a robust, conscious sense of their past and future, and this ability gives their lives special moral significance in comparison to “merely sentient” individuals which lack this ability. This chapter surveys the available scientific evidence for episodic memory, mirror self-recognition, and the use of a theory of mind and certain other kinds of planning in a range of non-human animals. This chapter concludes that while “the usual suspects” (great apes, elephants, and cetaceans) are good candidates for near-personhood, there is at least one surprising “contender” (scrub jays) and that we may one day have strong evidence for a much wider range of mammals and birds.

Keywords: persons/personhood; animal cognition; episodic memory; mirror selfrecognition; planning; theory of mind

Chapter.  18409 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy

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