Sunday, December 18, 2011

Are animals persons?

Are animals persons? Bioethicist Jessica Pierce argues they are not.
The concept "personhood" should only be introduced when we are trying to solve purely human questions (e.g., when is it appropriate to discontinue medical treatment?), not human-animal questions (e.g., what separates humans from animals? what makes a person a not-animal?). We need a more nuanced moral vocabulary-that much is certain. Should there be a concept of "animalhood" that allows us to affirm the qualities in animals that accord them moral value, that transform them from objects into subjects? This might be better than "personhood," since we really aren't arguing that chimps and whales are exactly like humans in the relevant respects, or, for that matter, that whales are like chimps. So maybe we need the terms "whalehood" and "chimphood" and possibly "doghood" (remembering, of course, that even these terms encourage us to overlook uniqueness).
What do you think? Read the entire article here.

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