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The province of jurisprudence naturalized

Towards Modest Naturalization of Personhood in Law

Tomasz Pietrzykowski

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1 Personhood from the Legal Perspective

1In the law, a person is usually defined as anyone regarded as capable of holding rights, duties and responsibilities of his own. The law confers such status and decides who deserves to be treated as a person and for what reasons. Traditionally, the law grants rights and duties to human beings (although for most of history, it by no means meant that all human beings were regarded as persons) and so-called juristic persons. The latter include various organizational entities such as corporations, associations, states, or municipalities.

  • 1 For more details, see Pietrzykowski 2016a: 51.

2Regulations concerning who counts as a person in law vary in time and place. Many groups of human beings have not been recognized as independent legal subjects; the best-known examples are slaves, women, children or people punished with so-called “civil death” (exclusion from the protection of the law). In most respects, they have been practically reduced to the category of property or objects of unlimited powers of others. Similar differences concern entities granted the status of a juristic person. There is no reason to think that no further changes are to come in this respect. An interesting example is the recent recognition of the juristic personhood of a river in New Zealand.1

3Thus, at first glance, it may seem that the legal approach to personhood does not follow the philosophical tradition in which personhood is identified mainly with rational agency. A person, to quote the definition proposed by early-medieval thinker Boethius, is conceived as rationalis naturae individua substantia (individual substance of a rational nature). Later, philosophical accounts of personhood became associated with the notion of conscious self-determination typical in normally developed, mature human beings.

4All of that seems rather distant from the above conceptualization of personhood in legal discourse. In my opinion, however, it would be a rather superficial conclusion. Even if the legal concept of a person involves a strong element of conventionality, it does not mean that the notion is not based on strong and profound philosophical assumptions underlying a given legal order and lawmakers’ decisions. It is true that, ultimately, the law itself exercises power to formally confer or deny the status of rights-holder to such an array of entities as a given lawmaker find appropriates. Relevant legal determinations rely on a certain worldview that includes beliefs about the nature of reality, particular kinds of entities as well as certain goals and values promoted by the law. One may say, then, that legal rules necessarily reflect certain philosophies, without which their content would not make much sense.

5A complete set of such philosophical underpinnings of a legal order and the content of its rules and concepts are rarely directly or unequivocally articulated anywhere in the legal texts. They are, rather, manifested by the ways in which the law forms concepts and tries to regulate matters and how lawmakers and lawyers think and solve the problems they face in the practical operation of the law. Thus, the philosophy of a legal order remains the “background” of the legal system and legal practice itself. Its beliefs, values, goals, and images of the world constitute sociocultural roots from which stems the actual shape of the judicial system. Hence, their reconstruction requires a deliberate analytic effort reaching beyond, or rather below, the normative level of legal texts and technical legal terms.


2 Philosophical Underpinnings of the Legal Approach to Personhood

  • 2 This kind of recognition seems to be postulated by Article 6 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of (...)
  • 3 Pietrzykowski 2016b: 13ff.

7Some philosophical assumptions of law concern the determination of whose interests should matter in the law and why. These assumptions guide and explain the regulations of personhood found in actual legal rules and decisions. In my opinion, one of the key philosophical foundations of at least contemporary Western legal orders is the belief that the law ultimately serves the interests of human beings, and the community of law is actually composed of the people a comprised in a given society.2 This is a point of view I have elsewhere dubbed Juridical Humanism.”3 It relies on the widely shared concept of inherent human dignity as the basis of recognition of the personhood of all, but principally only humans. The notion of human dignity reflects the uniquely human capabilities of reason and moral action.

8Therefore, the sole fact of being human is considered as the only precondition relevant for the law, of having one’s subjective interests that matter legally and should be taken into account in all legal decision making. Therefore, every human deserves recognition as a person by law solely by virtue of membership in the human race. What follows from this position is the claim that there is an objectively ascertainable metaphysical gap between persons and the rest of the world. Humans are believed to be so different from any other creatures that the law is morally justified to regard their good as the superior concern for the law. In this sense, Juridical Humanism seems to imply a rather strong version of human exceptionalism.

9In view of the above, there appears to be a principal difference between the nature of personhood attributed by law to people and the one it confers on organizational entities. The recognition of the latter as separate holders of rights and duties is derivative and based on essentially pragmatic grounds. Namely, such recognition is supposed to serve as a tool to better realize some of the needs and interests of human beings. The goal of recognition of any organizational entity as a legal person is the satisfaction of interests of human persons. To do that, there might be strong instrumental reasons to allow some collective human activities to be pursued in the form of entities that hold their own, separate rights and obligations (distinguished from individual rights of obligations of people involved in their establishment or operations).

  • 4 See Digesta, 1.5.2 (quote from Codex Hermogenianus).

10Even in ancient Rome, where the distinct personhood of collective bodies originated, lawyers were clear that, as Roman jurist Aurelius Hermogenianus established, “hominum causa ius omnes constitutum est” (human cause is behind all law).4 This principle, together with the idea of inherent dignity and equal value of all people, is the essence of the contemporary Juridical Humanism as the philosophical background of the contemporary legal approach to personhood.

3 Contemporary Natural Sciences and Their Implications

  • 5 See e.g. Dennett 1995; Elżanowski 2010: 13ff.

11Juridical humanism as conceived in the set of philosophical assumptions outlined above falls into more conspicuous tension with the facts discovered and explicated by modern natural sciences. The gradual recognition of emerging disjointedness between the worldview behind the law and the contemporary scientific outlook of the world is part of a larger and long-lasting process of cultural “digesting” of the Darwinian revolution in biological sciences. Despite the 150 years that have passed from the first publication of Darwin’s epoch-making “Origin of Species,” the range and depth of its significance for self-understanding of human beings is far from being fully grasped.5

12One of its implications that remains deeply underestimated is the prevailing conception of personhood and human exceptionalism rooted in the belief in an unbridgeable gap between our species and any other kind of creature. From the scientific perspective, however, being a person is not a question of a metaphysical status or possession of mysterious non-empirical qualities such as “dignity” or “reason.” It comes down to the set of properties of an embodied mind allowing a given creature to manage its affairs in a complex, self-conscious manner in which it can deliberately create and execute plans as well as choose, pursue and reflect upon its own goals or values.

13All such properties of the mind (jointly constituting the mental abilities of a person) at least causally depend on relevant neural structures of the brain. In a philogenetical sense, these neural structures have emerged in the course of biological evolution while ontogenetically, they gradually develop in the course of individual coming to age. What is important, however, is that those qualities in both those aspects admit in degrees and exhibit species and individual variations. From this perspective, one can talk about a kind of a central case of a person. It is a typical adult human being, capable of relatively conscious and deliberate control of his or her behavior.

14At present, the only actual examples of full-fledged persons we are aware of are some human beings. Nonetheless, all qualities so conceived as personhood can be found developed to various degrees in individual human beings. These qualities depend mainly on age, but may also display other individual differences irrespective of the question of maturity. Moreover, all of them are to some extent present in many species of non-human creatures. Similarity of many psychological capabilities results from the fact that they are effectuated by particular structures of a human brain having more or less direct counterparts in other species of animals (in particular, evolutionarily closely related to us, such as other mammals).

15Most structures of our brain (especially subcortical structures responsible for, i.e. basic emotional reactions, pain and pleasure, motivation to undertake and continue to strive for a desired goal, etc.) are products of the same evolution that shaped the brains and mental qualities of other animals that are our evolutionary close or further kin. Considerable similarities of this kind include not only hominids, other primates, as well as the rest of mammals, but to some extent at least all other species of vertebrate animals.

  • 6 Stanovich 2004: 31ff
  • 7 See e.g. Kahneman 2011.

16Simplifying the complex picture of evolutionary origins of particular kinds of mental qualities and their underlying neural structures, one could distinguish two basic layers of person-making qualities. They are strictly integrated into our mind, but the qualities of the latter may be fairly described as a combination of affective and motivational mechanisms processed largely by subcortical structures of the brain and neocortical regions related to reflective self-consciousness. The latter is responsible mainly for inhibiting and executive control over the affective reactions underlying basic motivational chains, triggering desires, needs, and will to act. On this basis, the reflective self-control exercised by frontal lobes of the neocortex allows for more deliberate, “reasonable” calculation and selection of one’s behavioral reactions.6 The combination of those two kinds of mental processing also underlies two strands of thinking: intuitive (“fast”) and conscious, analytic (“slow”).7

  • 8 See MacLean 1982: 291ff.

17Most broadly speaking, affective consciousness corresponds to such mental phenomena as sentience, sense of pain and pleasure, as well as basic emotional reactions such as fear, joy, satisfaction, curiosity, etc. Relevant neural structures are evolutionarily older and emerged long before human beings and their brains. They share considerable parts of subcortical circuits with many other species of animals, the brains of which are in many other respects less complex and developed than in humans. In this sense, the structures of the so-called limbic system within the brain that is responsible for processing affective reactions are–in renowned neuroscientist Paul MacLean’s terminology–at least a “paleomammalian” part of our brains.8 On the other hand, the neocortical areas of the brain allowing for complex forms of reflective self-consciousness are relatively recent evolutionary developments, almost unique for human creatures. Their simplest forms are detectable in some great apes, but they are still far from the level in which they are present in ordinary, adult human beings. Thus, as leading neuroscientist Jan Panksepp puts it, humans remain similar to animals at the bottom of the brain and become very different at the top of it.

  • 9 Basic moral reactions have been observed among apes, dolphins or rats; cultural transmission of le (...)

18One must be aware, however, that both kinds of person-making qualities are present to various degrees in human, as well as many non-human, brains, and the level to which they possess particular capabilities overlap to some extent. This is why it may be said that no human capacity would not be, at least to some degree, present also in some animals, including rudimentary forms of even such apparently uniquely human phenomena as morality, culture, or normativity9. Moreover, with respect to any single feature that could be potentially contemplated as distinctly human, at least some animals exhibit it to a higher degree than do at least some human beings.

4 Radical vs. Modest Naturalization

19The developments of science and their results for contemporary knowledge on the nature and origin of human capacities underlying the traditional conception of a person have many implications for philosophy and law. Recent discoveries in natural sciences (in particular cognitive and comparative neuroscience) bring about a new wave of attempts to naturalize the concept of personhood. In radical versions, the ideas of naturalizing the approach to personhood postulate to abandon the concept of human dignity as a metaphysical superstition and replace it with a set of factual attributes of the mind. In such view, there is nothing inherently person-making in the mere fact of being a human creature (membership in a certain biological species).

20Instead of the belief in metaphysical personhood as an inherent aspect of being a human creature, naturalistic approaches to personhood claim that there are just some psychological qualities that make a given creature a person deserving an appropriate moral status. The relation between being a person and humanness is not inherent but contingent. It is a fact that such qualities are usually possessed by creatures belonging to the human species. Nonetheless, what makes an entity a person are those qualities rather than membership in a class of human beings. The naturalistic approach implies, however, that it is not necessarily true that a human being is a person. Nor is it true that to be a “natural” person, one has to be a human being.

21Radical naturalization of the concept of a person may be attractive philosophically, but it does not seem adequate for legal purposes. This approach as a potential basis for a legal account of personhood may raise two significant objections. The first concerns its practical inoperativeness. It is difficult to make individual and gradual features the main basis of a legal status. Law must reflect certain general categorizations, even if they are based on certain statistical, average qualities of members of given categories. The law regards persons above a certain age as mature and capable of managing their own affairs even if in individual cases, the actual moment of becoming capable of doing so comes earlier or later. Nonetheless, as a matter of principle, law ignores such individual diversions. Otherwise, legal rules would be practically inoperative. It is the same with regarding all human beings as persons on the sole basis of membership in a given biological category, even if the degree to which they possess fully developed person-making qualities may substantially differ. Nonetheless, it remains true that an average, typical human being has such qualities.

  • 10 See e.g. Black 2003.

22Another important objection relates to the obvious risk of a moral setback. Equal recognition of all human beings as persons in law, irrespective of their individual differences, is a momentous ethical achievement of modern legal culture. It is a part of the deliberate moral choice to attribute to all human beings some basic legal status that precludes regarding them as mere objects, property or things. Equal recognition is an aftermath of numerous morally shocking social and legal practices in which some categories of human beings were denied recognition as equals to those who dominated and controlled their lives. One such sad episode in the history of law was 20th-century eugenics. The essence of eugenics was a just deprivation of equal legal status and protection to those who were regarded as not fully morally valuable because of biological defects (including people qualified as mentally retarded, physically crippled, and so on). The infamous “war against the weak” took many forms and degrees, culminating in the massive physical extermination of tens of thousands of “unworthy” people in Germany under Nazi rule.10 All such historical precedents must make legal philosophy extremely cautious in its approach to any view that may lead to undermining the great moral achievement of equal recognition of a moral status of all human beings irrespective of individual differences.

23In the light of such concerns, the solution which seems more promising is less radical: “modest” naturalization of the legal conception of personhood. This solution should preserve the equal status of each and every human being as a person in law, irrespective of individual biological or psychological differences. At the same time, it should open the status of a person or a subject of law for non-human creatures that possess appropriate actual qualities, making them deserve moral and legal respect for their vital subjective interests. Hence, by modest naturalization of personhood in law, I mean the combination of two following claims:

24(i) Each and every human being equally deserves to be regarded as a person in law by virtue of her or his membership in the human race.

  • 11 For more detailed elaboration of problems with distinction between humaness and non-humaness in re (...)

25(ii) Creatures that do not belong to the human race (wholly or partially11) could be conferred a status of a person in law if there are appropriate scientific grounds to regard them as possessing sufficiently developed, self-reflective consciousness. Non-human creatures that do not fulfill this condition but possess affective consciousness sufficiently developed to be plausibly ascribed their own subjective interests inherently related to their individual well-being may morally deserve to be regarded as non-personal subjects of law (rather than mere objects of legal relations arising among others).

26In contrast to radical naturalization of the legal approach to personhood, the modest version of naturalistic view of personhood would not mean, therefore, complete replacement of the current idea of a person (and a subject) in law by the more scientifically based reflection of the sole natural properties of a given biological organism. It would, rather, mean admission of such properties as an alternative set of criteria of conferring a status of a legal person or a non-personal subject of law to creatures that are not eligible to be regarded as a natural person in law because they do not belong to a human species. It amounts to making the current concept of a natural person open for non-human beings rather than reserved exclusively for creatures that are of a biologically human kind.

5 The Idea of Non-Personal Subjects of Law

  • 12 See more Elżanowski & Pietrzykowski 2013.

27An essential part of the modest naturalization of the legal approach to personhood is a separation of personhood from another kind of legal status, namely non-personal subjecthood. The entities to be qualified into this category differ from mere things that are treated by law as objects of property and other kinds of rights held by others. They deserve not to be regarded as things because of their inherent capability of possessing their own genuine interests arising from their sentience.12 It enables them to experience their existence as better or worse (in particular , and therefore gives rise to interests to live the life composed of a sum of experiences as subjectively good as only possible. At the same time, in most situations, they remain under the actual domination of people whose decisions essentially compromise the well-being of creatures exploited for the sake of human ends and interests.

  • 13 On the disctinction between interest-rights and choice-rights and the relation to the criteria of (...)

28Arguably, this concept gives rise to a moral duty to take into account the good of such subordinated creatures and at least seek to balance their subjective interests with human desires and wants that lead to their cruel exploitation. On the other hand, such non-human creatures differ from ordinary persons by their inability to take any advantage of most of the basic rights traditionally associated with the status of a person in law. In particular, they are unable to exercise any choice or rights involving powers to trigger or waive third-person duties deliberately.13

  • 14 Regan 1984: 243ff.

29It means that the long-lasting tradition of regarding personhood as a necessary prerequisite for right-holding should be abandoned. From Roman law up to our times, legal subjecthood has been identified with personhood. Conceptually, however, even if being a person implies being a subject, the opposite does not necessarily hold true; being a subject by no means has to imply being a person. Some creatures, e.g. sentient animals, have their subjective mental states by virtue of whether their existence may be better or worse for them. It makes them holders of interests of their own related to the quality of their lives. Therefore, sentient animals do not fit into the category of mere things. They are certainly – to use Tom Regan’s famous phrase – the subjects of their lives14. This does not mean that they have attributes which make them full-fledged persons. Due to that, animals would not gain any benefits from attributing to them most rights typically associated with the concept of personhood in law.

30The essential difference between things and subjects of law (whether personal or non-personal) lies in the ability to hold one’s own subjective interests, which may count as legal rights. Persons and non-personal subjects of law differ, however, in what kind of rights may be plausibly ascribed to them. A person is principally capable of holding all types of rights–those aimed at protecting the interests of their holder, as well those oriented towards protecting their freedom of choice. In contrast to that, non-personal subjects of law cannot be attributed with any choice-rights, and their status is dedicated solely to protecting their individual interests.

31As such, the essence of non-personal subjecthood of law may be reduced to the legal recognition of one single subjective right only–namely, the right to be considered, or, speaking more precisely, to have one’s individual interests considered as relevant in all decisions that may affect their realization. This does not mean that such interests cannot be compromised in cases of conflict with the rights and interests of others. It means only that the subjective good cannot be ignored and must be balanced with all relevant consideration following the general principle of proportionality applicable in resolving such conflicts.

32In other words, holding the right to be taken into account entails the obligation of all persons to include at least the most vital interests of a given individual as fully legitimate considerations that have to be balanced with all other relevant reasons for action. The range of interests that deserve such consideration may depend on the kind of animal in question, as well as the circumstances of a particular situation. Moreover, it goes without saying that in many cases, animal interests, even the most vital ones, may be outweighed by competing considerations related to the human good. However, all relevant considerations, including subjective interests of each animal protected by its right to be taken into account, have to be fairly compared and tested against the proportionality principle. Making such balancing legally required would make the results and decisions based thereon controllable by an independent judiciary in the same manner as in any other type of decisions in which legally relevant consideration has to be compared and balanced.

  • 15 Hoerster 2004: 96ff

33It is clear that constructing non-personal subjecthood as the capability to hold only one general right to be considered may be controversial. In particular, it may be questionable why non-personal subjects of law should not be the holders of various more specific rights (such as life, liberty, freedom from pain, etc.) similar to, albeit essentially shorter than, the list of rights attributed to persons in law. There are, however, two key arguments in favor of such approach. One relates to the question of why it is important for a person to have a number of relatively precise rights instead of just having their “liberty” or “dignity” protected by law. The answer must consider the fact that the essential feature of a person (whether natural or legal) is an awareness of one’s own legal situation and ability to plan one’s behavior on the basis of the predictable consequences of one’s actions. Thus, the precise and operative rights defining one’s situation are crucial for a person to be able to rationally decide ways of conduct in view of their expected legal effects. Arguably, there is an intimate relationship between the structure of personal rights and the status and capabilities of free, rational agents that may take them into account in deliberate managing their own affairs.15

34Obviously, this advantage of holding rights, which is crucial for persons, does not apply to non-personal subjects of law. To this extent, the point of being a right-holder in the case of persons differs substantially from the case of non-personal subjects. The protection of the interests of the latter is, by its very nature, more paternalistic. It hardly depends on the individual choices and preferences of the right-holder. Their interests must be determined and construed by third persons, who ultimately have to decide which interests deserve to be protected and in what manner. The respective decisions may rely only on the best understanding of species-typical needs and the preferences of a given creature rather than on actual will of the latter. Thus, as opposed to the case of persons in law, there is no point in granting non-personal subjects of law a set of specifically defined rights that would let them rationally plan and self-govern their own legal condition.

35Another argument in favor of one single right is that it allows for more flexibility. Due to its abilities and inabilities, the scope and way of protection of subjective interests of such creatures have to be much less entrenched and fixed than in the case of persons. It is necessary to adjust such protection to the particular situations in a way that would reduce the risk of producing results that would be irreconcilable with the widespread social practices, the immediate eradication of which society is not prepared to accept. This seems to be the fundamental precondition for making a step forward in the level of actual legal protection of those creatures that, due to past moral misconceptions and ignorance, have been treated as mere objects, but which are used for human purposes that cannot be now effectively pursued without interfering with subjective interests of innumerable sentient creatures.

36A minimally realistic approach to the problem of their legal and factual situation must rely on the assumption that there is no chance of human society accepting the complete abolishment of these creatures’ exploitation in the foreseeable future. If it is the case, one has to think in terms of achievable progress in their position and treatment, rather than hoping that their exploitation may simply disappear by virtue of one radical legal reform which grants them a solid set of inalienable rights and prevents them from being used for human ends and benefits.

37In terms of practical effects of the emergence of a new category of non-personal subjects of law, one should note that due to its flexibility, it may turn out that the situation will not change much in their actual treatment, at least in the short term. Nonetheless, the key difference following conferral of such status would be mandatory consideration of all relevant interests in all law-making and law-applying decisions concerning the holders of such subjective interests. Holding the status in question as well as the subjective right it involves, opens - in turn - the way to use all standard procedural tools to have such decisions reviewed and evaluated from the viewpoint of properly balancing all considerations that come into play in particular circumstances.

38Additionally, the balancing and the external evaluation of its outcomes need to be carried out from the perspective of the interests held by an individual creature. Duty to regard each animal as an individual holder of legally relevant interests may, in time, contribute to a gradual change of deeper socio-cultural attitudes. As a consequence appropriately drafted and sufficiently flexible law may endorse further progress in the position animals and their subjective interests occupy in the thinking and dealings of wider circles of our societies. This does not mean that any law is able to bring quick and radical effects. Ultimately, the extent of its actual consequences will depend on more fundamental socio-cultural processes. The law may, however, either support or impede the pace of their evolution. Establishing a new category of non-personal subjects of law and conferral of such status on beings deserving treatment that respects their interests aims to abolish a considerable legal obstacle for the further moral and social progress.

6 Conclusion

39Purely metaphysical assumptions underpinning the current legal approach to personhood result in a growing gap between the law and contemporary knowledge gathered by such natural sciences as biology, ethology, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology. Thus, reconsidering the way in which law addresses questions of who counts as a person or subject of law and why seems necessary to make the law more consistent with the scientific outlook of the world. Any such reconsideration should, however, carefully avoid risks of undermining some valuable achievements of the Western legal culture that may result from premature and naive radicalisms. Due to the fact that the ideas of personhood are part of the very foundation of our legal order, it is essential that any postulates to reform it are mature and well-thought-out.

40I believe to make the legal conceptual framework more coherent with the state of the art of contemporary natural sciences, it is necessary to distinguish full-fledged persons from non-personal subjects of law and make the latter clearly distinct from mere things. Such an approach amounts to modest naturalization of the concepts of personhood and subjecthood in law. This method combines equal protection of each human being, irrespective of their actual properties, with recognition of an adequate legal status of non-human creatures based on their actual biological features. Doing so assumes that legal status should be partially, albeit not wholly, dependent on the non-metaphysical conception of personhood.

  • 16 Keynes 2008: vii.

41I am acutely aware that such change is tough and perhaps may occur only under pressure of actual cases. There is a need to find legal ways for morally acceptable treatment of creatures, such as sentient animals or human-animal mixtures, about which we undeniably know cannot be reduced to the level of mere things. In order to prepare legal thinking to address such hard cases, legal theory must work out and propose solutions that could be accepted and implemented by law making and law applying authorities. Referring to the remark by J. M. Keynes, one has to be aware, however, that in this case, as in many others, “the real difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.”16

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Tomasz PIETRZYKOWSKI, 2016b: Law, Personhood and the Discontents of Juridical Humanism. New Approaches to the Personhood in Law. Eds. Tomasz Pietrzykowski & Brunello Stancioli. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. 13–23.

Tomasz PIETRZYKOWSKI, 2016c: Beyond Personhood. From Two Conceptions of Rights to Two Kinds of Right-Holders. New Approaches to the Personhood in Law. Eds. Tomasz Pietrzykowski & Brunello Stancioli. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. 147–158.

Tom REGAN, 1984: The Case for Animal Rights. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Keith STANOVICH, 2004: The Robot’s Rebellion. Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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1 For more details, see Pietrzykowski 2016a: 51.

2 This kind of recognition seems to be postulated by Article 6 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaiming that “everyone has the right to recognition as a person before the law”.

3 Pietrzykowski 2016b: 13ff.

4 See Digesta, 1.5.2 (quote from Codex Hermogenianus).

5 See e.g. Dennett 1995; Elżanowski 2010: 13ff.

6 Stanovich 2004: 31ff

7 See e.g. Kahneman 2011.

8 See MacLean 1982: 291ff.

9 Basic moral reactions have been observed among apes, dolphins or rats; cultural transmission of learned skills is present among chimpanzees or some birds, while proto-normative behaviors are discussed as plausible interpretation of relations among members of groups in many species of animals (mainly apes).

10 See e.g. Black 2003.

11 For more detailed elaboration of problems with distinction between humaness and non-humaness in respect of contemporary scientific and technological developments in creating inter-species biological chimeras and hybrids,see T. Pietrzykowski 2015.

12 See more Elżanowski & Pietrzykowski 2013.

13 On the disctinction between interest-rights and choice-rights and the relation to the criteria of legal status, see Pietrzykowski 2016c: 147ff.

14 Regan 1984: 243ff.

15 Hoerster 2004: 96ff

16 Keynes 2008: vii.

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Electronic reference

Tomasz Pietrzykowski, « Towards Modest Naturalization of Personhood in Law », Revus [Online], in print | 2017, Online since 31 August 2017, connection on 21 September 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/revus.3863

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About the author

Tomasz Pietrzykowski

Professor of Law at the University of Silesia (Poland)


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