Persons and Animals

  • Danny Frederick
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism book series (PASTCL)


I discuss the metaphysics and epistemology of personhood. Taking a lead from Immanuel Kant I consider the distinguishing marks of persons to be critical rationality, moral agency and self-consciousness. Unusually for a discussion of freedom, I relate the good of animals to their absolute needs. I argue, in line with evolutionary theory and against Philippa Foot, that that an organism’s absolute needs depend upon its individual nature, not some hypothesised nature of its species. I contrast persons with other animals, explaining how a person’s possession of critical rationality entails that persons have to discover their individual natures for themselves and that, given their fallibility, they have to proceed by guessing, testing and deciding. As a consequence, to find fulfilment, persons need freedom to experiment in an open society. I emphasise the importance of fulfilment in contrast to happiness and I criticise philosophical theories of authenticity, specifically those expounded by Michael Lynch and Charles Taylor.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danny Frederick
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarYeovilUK

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