Commentary Type

Open Commentary


Mark Rowlands, Are animals persons?


Rowlands (2016) concentrates strictly on the metaphysical concept of person, but his notion of animal personhood bears a moral dimension (Monsó, 2016). His definition of pre-reflective self-awareness has a focus on sentience and on the lived body of a person as well as on her implicit awareness of her own goals. Interestingly, these also play a key role in animal welfare science, as well as in animal rights theories that value the interests of animals. Thus, Rowlands’s concept shows connectivity with both major fields of animal ethics. His metaphysical arguments might indeed contain a strong answer to the question of what we owe animals as persons.

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/