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18 August 2007



Mary Midgley once wrote that it is absurd that we treat corporations as persons and not dolphins. Midgley is referring to the legal status of a person, here.

I'm no expert in animal psychology, but I do believe they have neurons and count as something more than property (full persons? that's another question)

Entities which consist of a manifold of 'persons' (however we define it) should also count as persons. I do not mean as a judicial or national body, but in terms of when we talk of the natural ecology, or the 'community'. If we are to construe them as a body, we must construe that their interests are not necessarily the ones that are in their own perception.

I like the prospect of thinking capacity as the basis of a criterion of personhood. If we move on from that, we need to make a 'meno test'; in other words, a test of cognitive and perhaps calculative capacities.


Barnaby Dawson

I agree both that animals should be treated as persons and that the notion might well be extended to other groupings.

I think this issue is particularly important in trying to come up with a political philosophy capable of dealing with the intracies that AIs will throw up.

The idea of a meno test is one I've spent some considerable time thinking about from the perspective of voting rights in an AI society. I may have a post on that in the future.

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