Thursday, January 1, 2015

What Does "Person" Mean?

There are many ways that we can use the Unitarian Univeralist Principles to guide us to deeper reflection, emodied spirituality, and action.  One of the First Principle Project's goals is to see how a change in the Principles might incorporate the worth of individuals of other species.  Currently the project is emphasizing a change to the First Principle as a means to invite engagement, although suggestions for changing the Second and Seventh have been entertained, as well as adding an Eigth.

Another aproach inlcudes leaving the First Principle as it is, but shifting how we define "person."  For philosophers, "person" is a moral category and how person is defined varies and interweaves with moral consideration, such as in the book, "Can Animals and Machines Be Persons" by Justin Lieber.  In recent times, whether animals can be considered persons has been newsworthy.  In New York state during December 2014, a U.S. court threw out a case where animal rights lawyer Stephen Wise argued that Tommy, a chimpanzee, was a person and was entitled to rights.  In this same month, however, an Argentinian court ruled that an orangutan was a "non-human person" and ordered a zoo to free him.

Regardless of how and when (and if) we change any of our Prinicples, we can use them to invite us into deeper and more compasssionate living.

May the new year of 2015 bring such to you - more joy, more love, more compassion, and more flourishing for all.

Rev. LoraKim Joyner, DVM

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