Commentary Type

Open Commentary


Mark Rowlands, Are animals persons?


Rowlands provides an expanded definition of personhood that preserves the requirement of unity of mental life from the orthodox definition but argues that implicit unity of mind is sufficient for conferring personhood. This allows more or all animals to be considered persons. Implicit unity of mind may be a bridge too far for those who endorse the orthodox account of personhood, and for good reasons. More fundamentally, who gets to decide what personhood entails or that personhood per se matters to such other issues as who receives legal or moral status and consideration? Perhaps we should worry less about definitions of personhood and more about whether and why (all) animals deserve certain kinds of treatment by human animals.

Author Biography

Gwen J. Broude is Professor of Cognitive Science at Vassar College. Her research interests include the application of cross-cultural and evolutionary theory to human mind and behavior. She also has an interest in phenomenological approaches to mind. https://cogsci.vassar.edu/bios/broude.html