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)


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
Whole Brain Emulation Roadmap Now Available from FHI

The Future of Humanity Institute, founded and run by IEET founder and chair Nick Bostrom, has just published a roadmap of the scientific research and technological innovations required to eventually completely model the human brain in software.

Two New Special Issues from JET

The IEET and the editors of the Journal of Evolution and Technology (JET) are pleased to announce the publication of two special issues of JET, one brought together by Sky Marsen with the intention of publishing a book on transhumanism, and the other a collection of papers from the IEET’s May 2006 Human Enhancement Technology and Human Rights conference at Stanford University. Together they represent the wide array of issues at play in the debate over human enhancement and our transhuman future, from the daily lived experience of pushi...

Anne Corwin
Facing the Quasi-Autonomous Robot Monsters Under The Bed by Anne Corwin

“Autonomous robots” have some people very spooked. But what does it mean to be an autonomous, decision-making entity in the first place?

J. Hughes
Pondering the Future of Death Over A Mojito by J. Hughes

Next May, several hundred neurologists and philosophers will gather in the resort of Varadero, Cuba, for the fifth International Symposium on the Definition of Death. At first sight, defining death might not seem like something that requires much scientific or philosophical attention. Look more closely, though, and the line between life and death is rapidly becoming increasingly fuzzy.

George Dvorsky
Martine’s mindfiles by George Dvorsky

Martine Rothblatt has an interesting idea. Unfortunately, I don’t think her idea is going to work.In our cybernetic and virtual world of the future, says Rothblatt, genes are not going to matter so much. Instead, we’ll be concerned about ‘bemes’— a fundamental, transmissible, unit of beingness.

Russell Blackford
Consciousness emerges? by Russell Blackford

Via David Chalmers’ blog,I came across this review by Jerry Fodor of a new book by Galen Strawson and others: Consciousness and Its Place in Nature: Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism?.

Poll: Should apes be granted the rights of human children?

This poll ran for more than two weeks, and generated a lot of votes, which went better than 2-to-1 for “Yes!”

Russell Blackford
Fenton to Habermas and bio-cons:  Human nature is not fixed by Russell Blackford

The November-December 2006 issue of The Hastings Center Report contains an important article by Elizabeth Fenton, entitled “Liberal Eugenics and Human Nature: Against Habermas”, the thrust of which is to attack - and demolish - the distinction made by Habermas and other bioconconservative thinkers between the natural and the artificial.

Jamais Cascio
Bioprinters vs. the Meatrix by Jamais Cascio

One of the odder manifestations of the fabrication future may well revolutionize the world of medicine—and quite possibly change how we eat and offer a new way to fight global warming, too.

Anne Corwin
All Kinds of Potential Minds by Anne Corwin

One trap that must be avoided with regard to thinking about cognitive enhancement, artificial intelligence, and the “medicalization” (or lack thereof) of existing neurophysiological variations in sentient creatures is that of working under the (possibly unconscious) assumption that the range of possible self-aware processing mechanisms that can be thought of as “minds” is far narrower than it actually is.

Russell Blackford
On cyborg citzenship - where I have a problem by Russell Blackford

My friend James Hughes has a great narrative to tell about the expanding circle of recognition of rights to all persons, irrespective of sex, race, culture, and even species and physical substrate. According to this narrative, we will ultimately accord citizenship - and the legal rights that go with it - to non-human persons and then to non-biological persons such as advanced, fully-conscious artificial intelligences. We will realise that it is Lockean personhood, rather than species membership, that accords full moral considerability.

George Dvorsky
Sue Savage-Rumbaugh on the welfare of apes in captivity by George Dvorsky

Tomorrow, on August 14, Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh will be giving a presentation about the welfare of apes in captivity at a conference oraganized by the Animal Behavior Society. Savage-Rumbaugh, who is a lead scientist at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa (a world-class research center dedicated to studying the behavior and intelligence of great apes), is the first and only scientist doing language research with bonobos.

George Dvorsky
Constructing the case for enhancement at Stanford by George Dvorsky

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights (HETHR) conference at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The conference, which was sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics (CCLE), and the Stanford Law School (SLC), brought together a diverse array of thinkers who spent the weekend ruminating over the challenging issues surrounding human enhancement.

George Dvorsky
The speciest Spike by George Dvorsky

Spiked Online clearly has an agenda in favour of promoting animal experimentation and they’re masking it by using their “science section” as a guise for their pro animal torture propaganda.

Wrye Sententia
Diagramming Sentences of Value: Evolving Human Rights and the Terms of Geoethical Nanotechnology by Wrye Sententia

Talk at 1st Annual Workshop on Geoethical Nanotechnology, July 20, 2005 by Wrye Sententia, Ph.D., Director, Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethic.

J. Hughes
The Death of Death by J. Hughes


The current definitions of brain death are predicated on the prognostic observation that brain dead patients would quickly die even with intensive care. But this is now shown to be untrue[1],[2],[3],[4].

Neuroremediation technologies and advances in intensive care will make it increasingly possible to keep alive the bodies of patients who would currently be classified as brain dead, and recover much of the memories and capabilities that we currently consider irrecoverable.

J. Hughes
The Intelligent Other in Science, Fantasy and Horror Fiction, 1895 to the Present by J. Hughes

Images of non-human intelligence in popular culture reflect our attitudes about the desirability and feasibility of a liberal democratic society. This study tests for a trend toward more positive depictions of non-human intelligence in popular culture, reflecting the gradual expansion of rights and inclusiveness of American liberal democracy. A second, more pessimistic, hypothesis of growing misanthropy also suggests there will be a positive trend in depictions.

Examples of depictions of non-human intelligence are collected from the...

J. Hughes
Hirntod und technologischer Wandel by J. Hughes

Personale Identität, neuronale Prothesen und Uploading

Biotechnologien, die es bereits gibt und deren Entwicklung wir voraussehen können, greifen in unser Verständnis des Lebens ein und zwingen dazu, die Grenzen zwischen Leben und Tod neu zu ziehen. Das ist heute immer weniger eine philosophische oder religiöse Aufgabe, sondern ein praktischer Bestandteil der Lebenswirklichkeit, die stets neuen Anlaß zu Auseinandersetzungen provoziert und zeigt, wie stark die Techniken buchstäblich in das Leben eines jed...

J. Hughes
Aliens, Technology and Freedom: Science Fiction Consumption and Socio-Ethical Attitudes by J. Hughes

As we enter the 21st century, we do well to consider the values implicit in science fiction, the principal arena of future speculation in popular culture. This study explored whether consumption of science fiction (SF) is correlated with distinctive socio-ethical views. SF tends to advocate the extension of value and rights to all forms of intelligence, regardless of physical form; enthusiasm for technology; and social and economic libertarianism. This suggests that consumers with these socio-ethical views would be attracted to the SF genre,...

J. Hughes
Buddhism and Medical Ethics: A Bibliographic Introduction by J. Hughes

with Damien Keown

This article provides an introduction to some contemporary issues in medical ethics and the literature which addresses them from a Buddhist perspective. The first part of the article discusses Buddhism and medicine and outlines some of the main issues in contemporary medical ethics. In the rest of the paper three subjects are considered: i) moral personhood, ii) abortion, and iii) death, dying and euthanasia. The bibliographic references appended to the article will be updated periodically (contributions are welcome...