Philosophy - Only Human Beings Can Be Persons

Topics: Turing test, Alan Turing, Humans Pages: 2 (601 words) Published: May 4, 2013
‘Only human beings can be persons’

The statement that only human beings can be persons raises many arguments for and against. For example what is defined as a person, and the extent of personhood as a matter of degree and what are the sufficient enough features of being a person. My position on this matter is that I believe that yes, only human beings can be persons, due to reasons which I will discuss later on in the essay. I shall defend my claim by arguing that neither animals nor computers have the required characteristics of personhood in which a human has. I will also explain how personhood is a matter of degree. Some of the main characteristics of being a person are having self consciousness, being able to use, understand and manipulate language, having beliefs and rationality and having emotions. Computers could be said to be able to communicate with persons and have a sense of personhood about them, therefore this argument goes against the claim that only human beings can be persons. The Turing test is a test which Alan Turing devised as a way to show the world that computers can be seen as persons. A man was at a computer on a chat room with a wall in front of him, on the other side of the wall was either a human or a computer, the man would ask the same questions to each condition and would have to decide which one was a computer. However, an argument against this is the Chinese Room shown by Searle. This is when there is a man in a room with a Chinese symbol translator book and someone outside of the room who is sending in notes, the man in the room replies back but doesn’t understand the language; he is just using a translator. This shows that anything can process symbols and make it as if they have a mind and understand language; however they don’t as they are just using a translator to write messages back. And only genuine understanding of the language is genuine mindedness. Certain animals have been proven to have emotions and communicate...
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