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Locke on Persons [T]o find wherein personal Identity consists, we must consider what Person stands for; which, I think, is a thinking intelligent Being.

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Presentation on theme: "Locke on Persons [T]o find wherein personal Identity consists, we must consider what Person stands for; which, I think, is a thinking intelligent Being."— Presentation transcript:

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3 Locke on Persons [T]o find wherein personal Identity consists, we must consider what Person stands for; which, I think, is 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: It being impossible for any one to perceive, without perceiving, that he does perceive. Essay, II.xxvii.9

4 Locke on Persons Locke also says: Person, as I take it, is the name for this self. Where-ever a Man finds, what he calls himself, there I think another may say is the same Person. It is a Forensick Term appropriating Actions and their Merit; and so belongs only to intelligent Agents capable of a Law, and Happiness and Misery. Essay, II.xxvii.26

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6 A Common Assumption and a Question Assumption: All (or most all) humans are persons and persons have a Right to Life (have a right to continue to persist). Question: Are there animals other than humans that are persons and thus have a Right to Life [that is (obviously) violated if/when we EAT them?]

7 ‘Burgers “R” Us: On an Apologetics For Carnivores Jim Fahey Rensselaer Department of Cognitive Science (retired) 10/18/2012

8 A Note on ‘Apologetics’ APOLOGY-a formal justification or defense So, what I plan to discuss is: a certain justification for the (admittedly unnecessary) killing of an animal for food by humans that holds that such killing does not violate any intrinsic rights that the animal might possess.

9 Some Assumptions: In What follows I will assume a number of things each of which is controversial: 1.Moral Principles are REAL (objective); 2.RIGHTS are REAL since they derive from Real Moral Principles; 3.Rights Imply Obligations Principle = def. If s has right R, then all who are capable are morally obligated (ceterus paribus) to refrain from violating that right.

10 Interest Theory of Rights If s has right R, then s is capable of having an interest I in that to which R pertains. In short:R  I Note: it is NOT the case that I  R, however, if s has an interest I, then s is a candidate for having a corresponding right R.

11 Note: Minimally, my version of this theory requires that if an entity has a right, it must be capable of being aware of the presence or absence of that to which the right pertains. So, for example, if s has the right to “be free from bodily harm,” s must be capable of being aware of the presence/absence of bodily harm. We have little or no reason to believe that such things as stones or chairs have any awareness at all. Thus, according to ITR (interest theory of rights) neither stones nor chairs are candidates for having rights.

12 Note (cont.) More formally: If stones have rights, then stones have interests. Stones have no interests Stones have no rights.

13 Requirements for the Having of Interests? I believe that a strong case can be made for the following: If something s has (is capable of having) an interest, I, then s is (is capable of being) CONSCIOUS, C. That is: I  C

14 Rights: the Consciousness Requirement R  I I  C ~C ~R

15 Rights of Plants? If plants have rights, then plants have interests. If plants have interests, then plants are conscious. Plants are not conscious Plants have no rights.

16 Persons and the Right to Persist If we accept ITR and that All persons have the right to life (right to persist), that is, 1.s is a person  s has a right to life then it follows from ITR that 2.s is a person  s has an interest in life (s is capable of having an interest in life).

17 Self Consciousness and Personhood What are the requirements for having an INTEREST IN LIFE? In accord with certain traditional accounts of “persons,” a strong case can be made for the view that in order for one to have (be capable of having) an interest in life in the sense at issue, one must be capable of thinking about oneself as an ongoing entity– as a something that has both a past and an anticipated future. If this is the case, then in order for one to have an interest in life it is NOT enough for one to be merely CONSCIOUS – one has to be SELF CONSCIOUS as well.

18 What is Consciousness? What is consciousness? I think it is fair to say that there is no generally accepted answer. Typically, however, we say that consciousness includes such things as: RAW FEELS:feelings such as pain or love; PERCEPTUAL STATES:for example, my "seeing" of a "blue patch of color" when I look out at the Lake; INTENTIONAL STATES: my having of such things as beliefs about things - for example my belief about the Lake that it is cold.

19 What is Self Consciousness? What is self consciousness? One philosopher (D. Hume) attempts to shed light on this as follows: Consciousness is analogous to being in the audience and being aware of what happens on stage. Self consciousness is being aware of yourself-being-in-the-audience-and-being-aware- of-what-happens-on-stage. If you are a self conscious entity, then typically you have the ability to reflect back on your history and see yourself as a something that has a past, a present, as well as a hoped-for-future.

20 Self Consciousness and Personhood (cont.) (3) s has an interest in life  s is self conscious. (s is capable of having an interest in life  s is capable of being self conscious.) It would thus follow that if some entity s is NOT self conscious, then s has no right to life and thus is not a person. We thus arrive at:

21 SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS CRITERION OF PERSONHOOD: (4) s is a person  s is self conscious (That is, s is capable (in a relevant sense of capable) of being robustly self conscious.)

22 The Argument thus far: For some entity s, (1) s is a Person  sR Life (2) sR Life  sI Life (3) sI Life  s is Self Conscious (4) s is a Person  sR Life  s is Self Conscious

23 Locke on Persons [T]o find wherein personal Identity consists, we must consider what Person stands for; which, I think, is 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: It being impossible for any one to perceive, without perceiving, that he does perceive.

24 Consciousness without Self Consciousness? Locke (and likely Descartes) thought it impossible to have consciousness without also having self consciousness. That is they believed that C  SC and because of this they believed it likely that No animals are Conscious!

25 Consciousness without Self Consciousness? Today it is more common among animal psychologists to believe that many animals are CONSCIOUS but they are not SELF CONSCIOUS. So while SC  C it is FALSE that C  SC

26 Self Consciousness and (non-Human) ANIMALS Psychologists attempt to devise experiments that provide empirical evidence that an entity is or is not self conscious. One such test is the "mirror test“ (Gordon Gallup). Only a few animals pass the "mirror test."

27 Monkey in the Mirror (NOVA video)

28 Passing the Mirror Test Should we allow that “passing the mirror test” shows that an animal possesses a variety of self consciousness that makes it a candidate for personhood? If so, should we allow further that all entities who pass the mirror test are persons? We should be careful here …(Watson) Mere Self Recognition may not require Self Consciousness of a sufficiently robust sort to be indicative of personhood.

29 Self Consciousness and the Right to Life Nevertheless, I am willing to defend the claim that: If an entity s is capable (in a relevant sense of capable) of sufficiently robust Self Consciousness, then s has the Right to Life s is Self Conscious  sR Life And thus

30 Some Non-Humans Have the Right to Life! … since I think there is little doubt that the self- recognition-behavior exhibited by chimps and orangoutangs provides good evidence that they are in a relevant sense capable of sufficiently robust self consciousness … CHIMPS AND ORANGOUTANGS HAVE A RIGHT TO LIFE.

31 The Bottom Line: The ‘Burger We have little or no evidence that animals such as dogs, cats, cows, chickens, … are self conscious and thus we have little or no evidence that they have a robust interest in life. So while these animals may have some INTERESTS and corresponding RIGHTS (Note that we hold that these animals have the RIGHT to be free from CRUELTY) they DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIFE.

32 The Bottom Line: The ‘Burger Thus, the painless killing of dogs, cats, cows, chickens and the like does not violate their rights and so your ‘burger and nuggets can be enjoyed in “good conscience.”

33 OR CAN IT? NOW, THE STING

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35 The Relevance of a Less Robust Self Consciousness? Remember my claim … If an entity s is capable (in a relevant sense of capable) of sufficiently robust Self Consciousness, then s has the Right to Life. s is Self Conscious  sR Life What if having an appropriate capability of self consciousness requires merely that s has HOPES & DREAMS!

36 The Relevance of a Less Robust Self Consciousness? As Darwin remarked, “can we feel sure that an old dog with an excellent memory and some power of imagination, as shewn by his dreams, never reflects on his past pleasures in the chase? And this would be a form of self- consciousness.” Darwin, C. (1871) The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, p. 62.

37 The Final Bottom Line So perhaps we should worry about our indiscriminate using of cows and chickens, pigs and lambs. With apologies to Yeats … But I, being poor, have only my hopes & dreams, I have spread my hopes & dreams under your feet; Tread softly, because you tread on my hopes & dreams.

38 He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven (W. B. Yeats) HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

39 A Look Ahead: Androids and the Interest Theory of Rights Searle’s Chinese Room and ITR: (1) s is a Person  sR Life (2) sR Life  sI Life (3) sI Life  s is Self Conscious (SC) (4) s is SC  s has Intentional States (5) ~ s has Intentional States (Searle’s Arg. applied to “mere” Turing Machines) (6) ~ s is Self Conscious & ~ sI Life & sR Life & ~ s is a person


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