Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Rima Basu

Rights Information

Noa S Schachtel


The way the term ‘person’ is used in society implies certain normative expectations surrounding the way one is supposed to view the individual and treat the individual in question. Intuitively, the conferral of personhood generally provides an entity with qualities like high moral consideration and inherent value when compared to non-persons. In determining who should be defined as persons, humans seem like an easy base case for deliberation. However, in analyzing the reasons why humans are moral persons, things get a bit more complicated. Part one of this thesis will be focused on two mental capacity based accounts of personhood, the first being one presented by Harry Frankfurt (Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person), and the second being one presented by Michael Tooley (Abortion and Infanticide). I argue that these kinds of approaches to moral personhood are unsatisfactory in that they exclude certain members of the human community based on arbitrary and speculative conditions. Part two of the thesis introduces a relational account of personhood presented by Hilde Lindemann (Holding and Letting Go: The Social Practice of Personal Identities), and argues that it is a better approach to the question of moral personhood in the way it describes the nature of personhood as socially generated through recognition and response. Additionally, it provides a better framework for the inclusion of not just all humans, but non-human beings as well. By the end of the thesis, I aim to provide strong grounds for the personhood of non-human animals, in hopes of providing them with more moral consideration than the natural world currently has.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.