Rights of Non-Human Persons
The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) is committed to the idea that some non-human animals meet the criteria of legal personhood and thus are deserving of specific rights and protections.

Mission Statement
Owing to advances in several fields, including the neurosciences, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the human species no longer can ignore the rights of non-human persons. A number of non-human animals, including the great apes, cetaceans (i.e. dolphins and whales), elephants, and parrots, exhibit characteristics and tendencies consistent with that of a person's traits like self-awareness, intentionality, creativity, symbolic communication, and many others. It is a moral and legal imperative that we now extend the protection of 'human rights' from our species to all beings with those characteristics.


The IEET, as a promoter of non-anthropocentric personhood ethics, defends the rights of non-human persons to live in liberty, free from undue confinement, slavery, torture, experimentation, and the threat of unnatural death. Further, the IEET defends the right of non-human persons to live freely in their natural habitats, and when that's not possible, to be given the best quality of life and welfare possible in captivity (such as sanctuaries).



Specifically, through the Rights of Non-Human Persons program, the IEET works to:
  • Investigate and refine definitions of personhood and those criteria sufficient for the recognition of non-human persons.
  • Facilitate and support further research in the neurosciences for the improved understanding and identification of those cognitive processes, functions and behaviors that give rise to personhood.
  • Educate and persuade the public on the matter, spread the word, and increase awareness of the idea that some animals are persons.
  • Produce evidence and fact-based argumentation in favor of non-human animal personhood to support the cause and other like-minded groups and individuals.

Program Director: Rights of Non-Human Persons

George Dvorsky
, who serves on the Board of Directors for the IEET and heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program, is Canada's leading agenda-driven futurist/activist.

The suggestion that we confer human-level rights to non-human persons is an idea whose time has come.



IEET Rights of Non-Human Persons News

Non-Human PersonsRights of Non-Human Persons List - Discussion of issues relevant to the protection of rights for certain non-human beings.


Resources Below is a beginning set of resources for gaining background and learning more about issues of concern to the IEET's Rights of Non-Human Persons program.

Key Rights Links

Nonhuman Rights Project (Steven M. Wise)

The Great Ape Project

Animal Legal Defense Fund

International Marine Mammal Project for the Earth Island Institute

WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals)

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

Greenpeace

Animal Defenders International

Declaration for Rights of Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins



Books (non-fiction)

Animal Liberation, Peter Singer (1975)

Primate Visions, Donna Haraway (1990)

Simians, Cyborgs and Women, Donna Haraway (1990)

The Great Ape Project, Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer (1993)

Kanzi: The Ape at the Brink of the Human Mind, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Roger Lewin (1996)

The Origins of Language: What Nonhuman Primates Can Tell Us, Robbins Burling, Iain Davidson, Kathleen Gibson, and Stephen Jessee (1999)

Rattling the Cage, Steven M. Wise (2000)

Apes, Language, and the Human Mind, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh (2001)

Drawing the Line, Steven M. Wise (2002)

Minding Animals, Marc Bekoff (2002)

When Species Meet, Donna Haraway (2007)

Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation, Gary L. Francione (2008)

Animal Bodies, Human Minds: Ape, Dolphin, and Parrot Language Skills, W.A. Hillix and Duane Rumbaugh (2010)

Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint, Marc Bekoff (2010)

In Defense of Dolphins, Thomas I. White (2007)



Books (fiction)

The World of Ptavvs, Larry Niven (1966)

Uplift Saga, David Brin (1985-1997)

I, Rowboat, Cory Doctorow (2006)

Next, Michael Crichton (2007)



Personhood Media Episode #54 - Sebo on the Moral Problem of Other Minds
Apr 4- 2019

What is TRANSHUMANISM? Dr. Ferrando (NYU)
Dec 24- 2017

What does “POSTHUMAN” mean? Dr. Ferrando (NYU)
Dec 21- 2017

What Happens When We Design Babies?
Nov 20- 2017

What will humans look like in 100 years?
Dec 2- 2016

Robots Must Pay For Their Crimes!
Nov 18- 2016

Being Human In 100 Years
Oct 10- 2016

Neo - Official Teaser Trailer
Sep 26- 2016

Born Poor, Stay Poor: The Silent Caste System of America
Sep 26- 2016

Born Poor, Stay Poor: The Silent Caste System of America
Sep 15- 2016

The Ways That Technology Has Changed the Definition of Death
Sep 13- 2016

Robots Must Pay For Their Crimes!
Aug 16- 2016

Increase Your Productivity by Mastering Singular Focus and Mindful Meditation
Aug 12- 2016

Karen Levy on the Rise of Intimate Surveillance
Aug 10- 2016

The Future of Human-Machine Relationships, HER Movie Review
Aug 6- 2016

Algorithms and Online Dating Won’t Change Your Ancient Brain
Aug 4- 2016

How To Make A Living When Robots Take Our Jobs
Aug 3- 2016

Self-Awareness Is Essential in Comedy and in Life
Jul 25- 2016

Transhumanism for the Mind: Enlightenment for the Future of Humanity
Jul 20- 2016

Could the Solution to the World’s Biggest Problems Be…a Park?
Jul 16- 2016



Personhood Articles
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In 2003, the idea that one might have a freedom to change one’s body and brain as one liked was being discussed in relation to the Transhumanist FAQ. This idea receives much less attention in the current FAQ, where it is largely replaced by a lesser freedom to enhance. This is interesting, because morphological freedom has significant implications.

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As crazy as it may sound, one of the best articles I’ve seen in a long time about the ethics of emerging technologies comes from the pages of Cracked magazine.

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Assuming the technology was robust, reliable, non-intrusive, and affordable—would you want to record your whole life?

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In this week’s episode of LORCs (Links Of Required Clicking), we’re going to focus on items with a very high coolness quotient.

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Continuing our extraordinarily popular series of LORCs (Links Of Required Clicking), we’re back again with a new quartet of links that you simply must click.

Mike Treder
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Freedom stands for something greater than just the right to act however I choose—it also stands for securing to everyone an equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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That’s the question we’re asking in our current IEET reader poll.

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Robots are making remarkable progress, mechanically, but until they can be connected with a smart animal level artificial brain, they won’t be anything close to really revolutionary.

Kyle Munkittrick
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District 9 is one of those films that, when you examine it in pieces, it doesn’t seem that amazing. If you were to ask me about any specific piece of the film: the action, the cinematography, the effects, the acting, the writing, etc. I would say that it might fall in the “good” or “pretty good” category. As a whole, however, the film manages to constantly combine those “good” elements into great scenes and chains so many great scenes together that a truly wonderful and unique story results.

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Martine Rothblatt
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“Some men see things as they are and wonder why.  Others dream things that never were and ask why not?” Robert F. Kennedy

Mike Treder
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Neanderthals are the closest evolutionary cousins to modern humans. We shared the planet with them until about 30,000 years ago when we probably killed them off. Now, as genetic and cloning technologies continue to advance rapidly, we are gaining the ability to actually bring back the Neanderthals—to resurrect them as it were. Should we?

Ben Scarlato
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[Contains spoilers.] How far does personhood and the rights associated with it reach across species? True Blood gives us an intelligent exploration of some aspects of this issue, specifically when that other species is perceived as dangerous, cruel, unnatural, and unholy. Unfortunately though, too often even those who support vampire rights refer to them as not being persons, instead emphasizing that they are essentially human or that vampires are a second species deserving of rights. A much more adaptable framework of rights could be built ...

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