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Personhood. Debate Cigarette smoking should be banned in public areas Support:Oppose: FishIda JuliusLok Kit.

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Presentation on theme: "Personhood. Debate Cigarette smoking should be banned in public areas Support:Oppose: FishIda JuliusLok Kit."— Presentation transcript:

1 Personhood

2 Debate Cigarette smoking should be banned in public areas Support:Oppose: FishIda JuliusLok Kit

3 Video Project If you haven’t yet, discuss the topic of your project with me today. Projects are due on November 16th. Videos will be shown in class on and November 23 rd and 30th.

4  What is a person?  Why does it matter?  “Human” rights: do you have to be human to deserve human rights?  Restricted rights? Rights of protection, etc. granted to children, the severely mentally ill and others that are not granted full human rights  The right to be counted in utilitarian calculations, i.e. to have one’s pleasure and suffering matter morally

5 What does it take to be a person? 1) A member of the species Homo sapiens People vs. “persons” Brain-dead, talking pig, aliens, computers, robots, apes, dolphins Cyborgs (part human, part machine): how much of a human being can be replaced by machinery or artificial parts before personhood is lost?

6 2) A certain level of intelligence? How to define? Merely quantitative or qualitative, e.g. understanding concepts, having intentionality? Not necessary? Baby, mentally disabled Not sufficient? Intelligent but not sentient computer, deep blue, “zombie”

7 3) Being consciousness and/or having feelings Lower animals, e.g. rabbits, chickens Does consciousness come in degrees? Is a certain degree of consciousness necessary? How to determine consciousness? The Problem of Other Minds

8 4) Moral agenthood Kant: “…rational beings are called persons inasmuch as their nature already marks them out as ends in themselves” (1785) Definition of a person: "a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider it self as it self, the same thinking thing in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness, which is inseparable from thinking, and as it seems to me essential to it" (Kant, Essay on Human Understanding) Kant’s requirements of a person: rationality, autonomy, able to understand moral judgments and choose to act morally, free will Problem cases: Babies, mentally deficient people, apes, dolphins, computers, robots

9 Problem cases Babies, mentally deficient people, apes, dolphins, computers, robots Morally responsible vs. morally considerable – Even if only “persons” are moral agents (hence, morally responsible), “non-persons” may be morally considerable

10 5) Some combination? Having sufficient intelligence, being a moral agent, being conscious, having free will, (being homo sapiens)? What combination would you choose? Are the criteria too strict? Can fulfilling some criteria be sufficient, e.g. either being homo sapiens or being sufficiently intelligent and conscious?

11 Apes and Persons

12 Great Apes Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos Could apes fit all the criteria (except being homo sapiens)? Do apes have: – Sufficient intelligence – Consciousness/self-consciousness – Feelings – The ability to be moral agents – Free will

13 Human-like abilities in apes Self-consciousness – The mirror test – Learning through imitation Tool use Rationality Creativity Communication Social organization Moral sense

14 The Great Ape Project Campaigning for a United Nations Declaration on Great Apes Supported by Peter Singer, Jane Goodall, Richard Dawkins, etc. To create a “community of equals” among people and apes Three goals: Right to life (except in cases of self-defense, etc.) Right to liberty (except where in the ape’s best interest, or where necessary to protect the public) Right to be protected from physical abuse Implications: Ban on using apes in scientific research Ban on eating ape-meat (bush meat) Ban on using apes in circuses, zoos, tv commercials, pets

15 Ape rights success 2007 Balearic Islands (province of Spain) passed world’s first laws to grant rights to great apes 2008 Spanish parliament drafted bill to grant primates right to life and liberty

16 Criticisms Apes cannot enter into a reciprocal legal relationship with people – Apes cannot be held responsible – Apes cannot enter into contracts, obey laws, etc. – Roger Scruton: only humans have duties and thus only humans have rights People have a natural and justifiable tendency to favor their own species Slippery slope

17 Readings Required: Singer, Peter, “All Animals are Equal”, available at: Suggested: Robert Nozick, “Moral Constraints and Animals”, available at: Constraints and Animals.htm The Great Ape Project at:

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