Sunday, 24 October 2010

Awareness is one of the key things that distinguishes a person from a non-person.

"Anonymous said...

Awareness is one of the key things that distinguishes a person from a non-person. I believe you become a person when you are aware of consequences, yourself and of others.Without this understanding of a higher level is impossible. No matter the amount of rationalisation, you'll never be able to attribute this to anything in the world."

okay, well if we approach personhood from your angle, i still believe we can attribute person hood to come animals. 
i want you to look at this experiment and tell me that these monkeys are not showing they are aware of what there actions do to others and the consequences that come with it. 
okay, imagine an experiment were you have two monkeys in separate cadges. there are two chains. chain A will give the monkey a load of food, and chain B will only give him a small amount. they let the monkey experiment with this a few times so it established that chain A gives more food and so would pull that when given the choice. however the experimenters then started shocking the other monkey when ever the A chain was pulled. 
after seeing the other monkey in pain when it pulls the A chain stopped out right. as this experiment was carried out on several monkeys to make sure it wasn't a fluke, the results all conform. every monkey stopped pulling the A chain, 2/3 of the monkeys would only pull the B chain that dosnt administer any sock, were as the final 1/3 just stopped pulling any chain, and actively staved them selfs to avoid hurting their companions, one even when with out food for 12 days before reliving its self. 
now this to me shows that they understand what is happening when they pull the chain, yes they get food if they pull the chain, but they will hurt their counterparts at the same time, by choosing not to pull the chain they are demonstrating they are "aware of consequences, yourself and of others." 
your thoughts?
any counter arguments? 
and are you aware of any other experiments like this? if so i would like to hear of them :) 


  1. I believe that all animals have a degree of awareness. Great apes being social animals have evolved a greater level of awareness of all things to be able to exist in this social environment.
    For instance it would be impossible for empathy without this awareness. Humans have evolved one step up on that with our incredible frontal lobe, that allows us to essentially simulate any experience we want in our heads, giving us a great awareness of everything around us.
    Further still, there is variation amongst humans in their level of awareness.

    So yeah, as are most of my conclusions within philosophical matters, it all comes down to a certain degree/level of whatever you are talking about.
    Its just difficult to draw the line at which these things become relevant, such as, at what level of awareness does it qualify something to be a person?

  2. iv spent quite a bit of time thinking about this, and to be honest i can't really disagree with what you have put.
    generally i agree with it.
    but i remain adamant that chimps and other primates not all but some have a level of awareness that deserves the privilege that is person hood.

  3. I don't think you can exactly say that you are not a person if you have no awareness. For example can you say that for 40 years someone has a normal life - they are counted as a 'person' then they have a car crash or some form of accident that gives them severe brain damage and they are no longer 'aware', do they then stop being a person. But to be honest without awareness - yes - somebody can't contribute anything to society.

  4. They lose their personhood as a result of their injuries. Although most people would still treat them as if they were a person.