Acknowledging non-human persons: reconstituting our conception of personhood
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 10:20 by Rebecca Kovacs
This thesis seeks to reconstitute our conventional conceptions of personhood, and open this privileged status to many non-human animals. I begin with a discussion of the concept of personhood and some of the intricacies of the classification process. Many conventional conceptions require “higher” functions, like language and rationality, for personhood. In Chapter Two I challenge such views. Chapter Three articulates and defends my own conception of personhood. I define persons as those who can directly and personally be harmed. Such beings are subjects with emotions and interests. I discuss evidence that many non-human animals possess these characteristics and, as such, should be classified as persons. In Chapter Four I explore the practical application of my conception and potential policy implications, focusing on issues around the confinement of non-human animal persons in zoos and aquariums.