Yale University this weekend hosted an event to discuss whether humans are any better than animals and, at the crux of the debate, foster the notion that some nonhuman animals deserve personhood.
Called “Personhood Beyond The Human,” the three-day conference boasted a variety of professors from numerous big-name universities, including a keynote address by Princeton University professor and infamous bioethicist Peter Singer, who has been known to support infanticide and bestiality. Singer spoke on “Who is a person? A Non-Speciesist Answer,” according to the event’s agenda.
Other professors who added to the debate, according to the agenda, included:
Lori Gruen, a philosophy, feminist, gender and sexuality studies professor at Wesleyan University, whose talk was titled “Rethinking Personhood: Recognizing sameness and valuing difference”;
Wynn Schwartz, a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, spoke on “What is a Person and How Can We Be Sure?”;
Robert C. Jones, an assistant philosophy professor at Chico State University, provided his insights on the topic: “What Might a Species-Free Ethics Look Like?”;
and University of Connecticut Assistant Clinical Professor of Law Jessica Rubin, who posited: “How can we practically advance rights for non-human animals?”;
Co-sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and Yale Animal Rights Group, the conference aimed to tackle ethical ramifications for animals that exhibit “awareness, intentionality, creativity, symbolic communication, and the other characteristics of ‘personhood,’ ” the institute’s website states.
“A growing body of research shows that many nonhuman animals, especially great apes, dolphins and whales, and elephants, have self-awareness, intentionality, creativity, symbolic communication, and the other characteristics of ‘personhood,’ ” the website states. “If at least some animals are psychological persons isn’t it time to extend the legal protection of ‘human rights’ from our species to all beings with those characteristics?”