Transhumanism: Pushing “Rights” for Non-Human “Persons”

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Feb 4, 2013   |   11:49AM   |   Washington, DC

Transhumanism is not just about transforming humanity. Part of the movement seeks to redefine what it means to be a “person” extending personhood rights to any kind of intelligence, artificial or otherwise. (This, of course, means that humans without a sufficient intelligence, determined by elite minds, would not qualify as persons.)

Yale is hosting a conference to discuss non-human personhood. It is called The Personhood Beyond the Human conference and the transhumanist group The Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies has the details:

Personhood Beyond the Human

December 6-8, 2013

Yale University

Sponsors: Nonhuman Rights Project, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, Yale Animal Ethics Group, Yale Technology and Ethics Working Group

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.” 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? Given pending advances in genetic engineering and computing having a clear agenda for what criteria are necessary for personhood, and what we owe persons, may soon become even more complicated.

The Personhood Beyond the Human conference will tackle these questions and take a hard look at our evolving notions of personhood by analyzing them through the frameworks of neuroscience, behavioral science, philosophy, ethics, and law. Special consideration will be given to discussions of nonhuman animal personhood, both in terms of understanding the science and philosophy behind personhood, and ways to protect animal interests through the establishment of legal precedents and by increasing public awareness.

The conference will be co-sponsored by the Nonhuman Rights Project and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) in collaboration with the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, the Yale Animal Ethics Group, and the Yale Technology and Ethics Working Group. The first day of the conference will focus on the philosophical and public policy issues around nonhuman personhood. The second day will focus on the legal cases the Nonhuman Rights Project will be filing in 2013 on behalf of animals, and the legal arguments they will be using.

By the close of the conference, attendees will have gained an enhanced understanding of the neurological, cognitive, and behavioral underpinnings of personhood and those traits required for such consideration; personhood theory; the history of personhood consideration and status (both in terms of philosophical and legal conceptions); and the legal hurdles and requirements for granting personhood status outside of the human species.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE (in formation)

– Peter Singer, Princeton University
– Steve Wise, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project
– Joel Marks Ph.D., Philosophy, U of New Haven
– George Dvorsky, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET)
– James Hughes Ph.D., Executive Director IEET & Public Policy, Trinity College
– Dr. Lori Marino, Psychology Dept and Center for Ethics, Emory University
– Steven Tauber, Dept of Government & International Affairs, U. of S. Florida

When Peter Singer is involved you know that some humans will not be considered “persons” while some animals will be.



Frankly, it is beyond time that the average citizen started taking notice. Pretty soon we might have days old babies without rights and African grey parrots with rights and we will be wondering “How did this happen?”