Are Nonhuman Animals Persons?

Michael Tooley

in The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780195371963
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Are Nonhuman Animals Persons?

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This article considers the concept of persons as the central issue in moral status debates. It finds questions about whether members of one or more nonhuman species of animals are persons among the most difficult philosophical questions we face today. It locates the difficulty in two sources: how the concept of a person should be analyzed, especially the properties that give an entity a right to continued existence; and how to determine which psychological capacities and which forms of mental life adult members of nonhuman species have. It argues that the fact that something is a continuing subject of experiences and has mental states that are psychologically connected over time is crucial to creatures having moral status and having a right to continued existence.

Keywords: moral status debates; nonhuman species; continued existence; psychological capacities; mental states

Article.  20225 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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