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Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Commentary Type

Invited Commentary

Thread

Mark Rowlands, Are animals persons?

Abstract

The Rowlands target article makes a case, based on John Locke’s metaphysical argument, that personhood can be applied to many species beyond a few nonhuman primates. The problem with this argument is that personhood has an open-ended list of defining attributes and can, at best only be partially applied to nonhuman species. Therefore, a dichotomous distinction cannot be made between qualifying and non-qualifying species. Instead, between-species comparisons must be based on observational and experimental procedures to demonstrate the extent to which human mental attributes are shared with other species. This would allow a more informed view about the appropriateness of personhood in nonhumans.

Author Biography

James King is Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Arizona. His research has focused on primate behavior including complex learning, infant development, behavioral laterality, and most recently personality and subjective well-being. http://bit.ly/JamesKingArizona