Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

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Mark Rowlands, Are animals persons?


Mark Rowlands argues that at least some animals are persons, based on the idea that (i) many animals have a property he calls “pre-reflective awareness,” (ii) the capacity for pre-reflective awareness is sufficient to satisfy the traditional Lockean definition of personhood, and (iii) satisfaction of the traditional Lockean definition of personhood is sufficient for being a person. I agree with (i) and can see that there is a persuasive case for (ii), but I think the case against (iii) blocks the conclusion that animals are persons. I suggest that we may need instead to coin a neologism in order to express Rowlands’s insight; the concept of person is insufficiently malleable to do the job.

Author Biography

Helen Steward is Professor of Philosophy of Mind and Action at the University of Leeds. She is the author of The Ontology of Mind (Oxford: OUP, 1997) and A Metaphysics for Freedom (Oxford: OUP, 2012), as well as many papers on free will, agency, mental causation and ontology of mind. http://bit.ly/mGWS40