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Personhood, Ethics, and Animal CognitionSituating Animals in Hare’s Two Level Utilitarianism$
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Gary E. Varner

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199758784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199758784.001.0001

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Candidates for Near-Personhood

Candidates for Near-Personhood

(p.182) 8 Candidates for Near-Personhood
Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition

Gary E. Varner

Oxford University Press

“Near-persons” are like persons insofar as they have a robust, conscious sense of their past and future, and this ability gives their lives special moral significance in comparison to “merely sentient” individuals which lack this ability. This chapter surveys the available scientific evidence for episodic memory, mirror self-recognition, and the use of a theory of mind and certain other kinds of planning in a range of non-human animals. This chapter concludes that while “the usual suspects” (great apes, elephants, and cetaceans) are good candidates for near-personhood, there is at least one surprising “contender” (scrub jays) and that we may one day have strong evidence for a much wider range of mammals and birds.

Keywords:   persons/personhood, animal cognition, episodic memory, mirror selfrecognition, planning, theory of mind

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