Commentary Type

Open Commentary


Mark Rowlands, Are animals persons?


Mark Rowlands’s (2016) target article invites us to consider individuals in a broad subset of the non-human animal world as genuine persons. His account features animals reacting to salient environmental stimuli as Gibsonian affordances, which is indicative of “pre-reflective self-awareness.” He holds that such pre-reflective self-awareness is both “immune to error through misidentification” (Shoemaker, 1968) and a necessary precursor to reflective consciousness and personhood. I agree. In this commentary I hope to extend Rowlands’s work with a view in which agency is an even more fundamental precursor and one can (and should) consider individuals throughout the entire animal kingdom as agents.

Author Biography

Linda A.W. Brakel is a psychoanalyst and an adjunct faculty member in Psychiatry and Philosophy at the University of Michigan. Her work is interdisciplinary, at the intersection of philosophy of action, philosophy of mind, and psychoanalysis. Brakel is the author of three (and co-author/co-editor of three more) books and about 50 academic articles. https://lsa.umich.edu/philosophy/people/affiliated-scholars/brakel.html