Personhood is the status of being a person. Defining personhood is a controversial topic in philosophy and law and is closely tied with legal and political concepts of citizenship, equality before the law|equality, and liberty. According to law, only a natural person or legal personality has rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities, and legal liability.[1]

Personhood continues to be a topic of international debate and has been questioned critically during the abolition of human and nonhuman slavery, in theology, in debates about abortion and in fetal rights and/or reproductive rights, in animal rights activism, in theology and ontology, in ethics|ethical theory, and in debates about corporate personhood.[2]


Sondra the orangutanEdit

In December 2014 a court in Argentina declared Sondra, a Sumatran orangutan, to have the right to freedom as a person.

She may look like an ordinary orangutan, but Sandra is a pioneer. The 28-year-old great ape, who has been held captive at the Buenos Aires Zoo for two decades, is legally a “person,” according to an Argentine court.

The ruling came after the animal rights group Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) filed a habeas corpus petition in Sandra’s behalf....[1]

The Nonhuman Rights Project vs. StanleyEdit

In this case, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed on behalf of Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees being held for experimentation at State University of New York at Stony Brook (with president Samuel L. Stanley Jr.).

In April 2015, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe granted the chimps the right of habeus corpus, which is unlawful detention of a person. NhRP argued that this decision effectively recognized the two chimps as people, a thought echoed by Science magazine. The judge later amended her decision to remove the "habeas corpus" right, which left doubt as to the rights of the two chimpanzees.


  1. "Where it is more than simply a synonym for 'human being', 'person' figures primarily in moral and legal discourse. A person is a being with a certain moral status, or a bearer of rights. But underlying the moral status, as its condition, are certain capacities. A person is a being who has a sense of self, has a notion of the future and the past, can hold values, make choices; in short, can adopt life-plans. At least, a person must be the kind of being who is in principle capable of all this, however damaged these capacities may be in practice." Charles Taylor, "The Concept of a Person", Philosophical Papers. Volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, 97.
  2. "Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit", The New York Times, January 21, 2010.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Smallwikipedialogo