If elephants aren’t persons yet, could they be one day?

#1
https://aeon.co/essays/if-elephants-aren...be-one-day

INTRO / EXCERPT: . . . Cows don’t gauge how to respond to sights, sounds and smells by carefully studying the subtleties of one another’s reactions (which is why they can startle each other into stampeding). When you’re with a herd of cows, you’re basically alone.

Stand or walk among a herd of elephants, however, and you’ll appreciate how different the experience is. Even the most peaceful group feels electric with communicative action. There’s continuous eye contact, touching, trunk and ear movements to which others attend and respond. Elephants engage in low-frequency vocalisation, most of which you can’t hear, but you can certainly see its effects. If you’re fidgety, for example, all the adult elephants will notice and become uneasy. Typically they take their cues from their female leader, the matriarch. When you’re with a herd of elephants, you’re not alone at all; you’re in a highly charged atmosphere, shimmering with presence and feeling. To an outside observer, elephants appear to have highly responsive minds, with their own autonomous perspectives that yield only to careful, respectful interaction.

What’s the significance of this contrast? We know that elephants are more social – and far more intelligent – than cows. But the comparison goes far beyond the question of intelligence and alertness. I believe it’s possible that elephants have all the cognitive and emotional capacities it takes to be persons. I’m not claiming they belong to the species Homo sapiens, obviously: rather, I mean they might have the potential to deserve the label ‘person’ in recognition of their particular status or identity. Along with many philosophers, I think that being a person involves something different to being a living organism with human DNA.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that elephants currently express the full range of personal and creative capacities that humans do. But I suspect all that’s missing are certain informational and institutional structures, along with the motivations to innovate upon them. In humans, we know what those structures look like: they are the books, movies, museums and laws that manifest in the world what otherwise exists only in our heads. It might be that there’s a lot going on in the heads of elephants, but they just haven’t been moved to externalise and store it in the environment the way we have.

However, if elephants do have all the raw mental material it takes to be persons, a time could come in the near future when we might draw them into a more expansive kind of personhood. The behavioural economics experiments that a colleague and I are planning to run with a group of semi-wild, female elephants in South Africa should begin to test the plausibility of this arresting speculation.

The idea of according elephants the status of persons might seem ridiculous, or naively romantic, or both. But there are sound reasons for taking it seriously, and I think these reasons are both scientifically and morally important....

MORE: https://aeon.co/essays/if-elephants-aren...be-one-day
Reply
#2
Wow, what utter nonsense. I don't see anything there that dramatically differentiated elephants from other somewhat intelligent social species, like dogs and dolphins.

And what would attributing to them personhood mean for rogue elephants that threaten whole villages? Would they have to be tried in court before they could be put down? Rolleyes
Reply
#3
(Oct 26, 2018 12:06 AM)C C Wrote: https://aeon.co/essays/if-elephants-aren...be-one-day

INTRO / EXCERPT: . . . Cows don’t gauge how to respond to sights, sounds and smells by carefully studying the subtleties of one another’s reactions (which is why they can startle each other into stampeding). When you’re with a herd of cows, you’re basically alone.

Stand or walk among a herd of elephants, however, and you’ll appreciate how different the experience is. Even the most peaceful group feels electric with communicative action. There’s continuous eye contact, touching, trunk and ear movements to which others attend and respond. Elephants engage in low-frequency vocalisation, most of which you can’t hear, but you can certainly see its effects. If you’re fidgety, for example, all the adult elephants will notice and become uneasy. Typically they take their cues from their female leader, the matriarch. When you’re with a herd of elephants, you’re not alone at all; you’re in a highly charged atmosphere, shimmering with presence and feeling. To an outside observer, elephants appear to have highly responsive minds, with their own autonomous perspectives that yield only to careful, respectful interaction.

What’s the significance of this contrast? We know that elephants are more social – and far more intelligent – than cows. But the comparison goes far beyond the question of intelligence and alertness. I believe it’s possible that elephants have all the cognitive and emotional capacities it takes to be persons. I’m not claiming they belong to the species Homo sapiens, obviously: rather, I mean they might have the potential to deserve the label ‘person’ in recognition of their particular status or identity. Along with many philosophers, I think that being a person involves something different to being a living organism with human DNA.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that elephants currently express the full range of personal and creative capacities that humans do. But I suspect all that’s missing are certain informational and institutional structures, along with the motivations to innovate upon them. In humans, we know what those structures look like: they are the books, movies, museums and laws that manifest in the world what otherwise exists only in our heads. It might be that there’s a lot going on in the heads of elephants, but they just haven’t been moved to externalise and store it in the environment the way we have.

However, if elephants do have all the raw mental material it takes to be persons, a time could come in the near future when we might draw them into a more expansive kind of personhood. The behavioural economics experiments that a colleague and I are planning to run with a group of semi-wild, female elephants in South Africa should begin to test the plausibility of this arresting speculation.

The idea of according elephants the status of persons might seem ridiculous, or naively romantic, or both. But there are sound reasons for taking it seriously, and I think these reasons are both scientifically and morally important....

MORE: https://aeon.co/essays/if-elephants-aren...be-one-day

USA law makes companys persons, so it makes sense that living animals should be persons also.
maybe an alpacca should run independantly for president next election.
the vice president can be an offshore tax entity media company
the sec state can be a robotic letter box with flashy led lights.


will the usa be deporting all foriegn animals ?
Reply
#4
(Oct 26, 2018 09:50 AM)RainbowUnicorn Wrote: USA law makes companys persons, so it makes sense that living animals should be persons also.
maybe an alpacca should run independantly for president next election.
the vice president can be an offshore tax entity media company
the sec state can be a robotic letter box with flashy led lights.

will the usa be deporting all foriegn animals ?


Given the ecologists' and even a Green orientation's alarm over the destructive, virulent, and extinction or endangerment-causing potential of invasive animal species... The latter would definitely be one analogy not to use or a comparison not to make with regard to human "invasions" / migrants. Counterproductive in terms of non-Trumpian propaganda goals, anyway.

Though probably much more applicable back in the days of barbaric hordes encroaching upon civilization. Or the reverse of more advanced civilization intruding upon the indigenous cultures of the New World. "Migration of a population to the territory of a differing population" is not universally good or bad. The value judgement (good or bad) does depend upon the contingent circumstances / context and perspectives of the concerned parties (including the era).

A general assessment of such would also be an "averaging" of what took place (kind of like the measurement of temperature) rather than about specific interactions between diverse parties (which would vary from beneficial to detrimental in terms of outcomes). The abstract general assessment would always be conflicting with some of the local slash personal encounters / results at the specific, concrete level. Since as individuals, we unfortunately don't actually live in the idealized "general affairs" version of the world as outputted by data sciences, think tanks, and their interpretations. We experience contact with immediate objects / changes rather than conceptual forms or rational / intellectual objects and their static endurance on record.

~
Reply
#5
No, US law doesn't make companies persons. Rolleyes
It only ensures the free speech rights of individuals who act in concert, through a company. It realizes that a company is only a collection of people, and that denying the company free speech rights hinders the rights of those individuals, both free speech and freedom of association.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Huge mass embedded in moon, & astronomers aren't sure what it is C C 3 51 Jun 15, 2019 11:49 PM
Last Post: confused2



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)