Commentary Type

Open Commentary


Mark Rowlands, Are animals persons?


I argue that Rowlands’s concept of pre-reflective self-awareness offers a way to understand animals as Social Selves. It does so because it departs from the orthodox conception of self-awareness, which is both egocentric and logocentric. Instead, its focus is on the relation between consciousness and a person’s lived body, her actions and goals. Characterizing persons as pre-reflectively self-aware beings in Rowlands’s sense offers a much more useful conceptual tool to interpret social behaviour in animals.

Author Biography

Judith Benz-Schwarzburg is Senior Researcher at the Unit for Ethics and Human-Animal Studies of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna. Her work focuses on socio-cognitive abilities in animals and their ethical relevance (for culture, language, theory of mind, and morality in animals). https://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/messerli/science/ethik/staff/judith-benz-schwarzburg/