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Discovering Philosophy

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Running Head: DISCOVERING PHILOSOPHY 1
Discovering Philosophy
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Discovering Philosophy
Dolphins are mammals, which live in the water. They look like fish owing to their
adaptation of their aquatic environment, just as their close relations, which are whales. They are
a collection of marine mammals and range into different species and classes. Despite the fact that
dolphins look more like fish rather than mammals, these are the second most intelligent creatures
on earth, second only to their counterparts in the mammalian family, the human beings. The
dolphins also have a high sense of reasoning, as well as high levels of intellectual capabilities as
compared to other creatures on the universe. As such, most analysts and philosophers argue out
on the possibilities of considering dolphins as persons and uphold upon them all the
characteristics of personhood, as well as, all the rights that come along with being a person, just
like those accorded to normal human beings (Linzey, 2009).
Thomas White in his epic analysis about discovering philosophy outlines a number of
factors that constitute personhood. This includes eight major principles that are that a person

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DISCOVERING PHILOSOPHY 2
must be alive; a person must be aware of his or her environment; a person must have emotions
and feelings, and the ability of a person to feel both negative and positive emotions. Other
aspects of personality are that a person usually has a sense of self; a person recognizes other
persons, and a person having control of their own behavior, as well as, a person having a variety
of sophisticated cognitive abilities. He further argues that a person should have all these
characteristics, and any other creature with similar features gains rights and privileges for
consideration of personhood (Merrill, 1998).
In consideration of all these aspects laid out to outline the personality of an individual, it
is almost natural to consider dolphins for personhood. Dolphins have similar senses that are as
close to the aspects of personhood as compared to their mammal counterparts, the human beings.
This is because a dolphin possess all the features of personhood, such as being alive, being aware
of its surroundings and environment, having feelings and emotions, as well as, feeling both
negative as well as positive sensations. A dolphin feels negative sensations such as grief, anger
and disgust, as well as, feeling positive sensations such as happiness, joy and enthusiasm. All
these aspects point further to the reality of considering dolphins as persons since they have
similar feelings and practices that warrant personality. In addition, dolphins also have a sense of
self, whereby they are able to recognize themselves and be aware of their senses and personality
(Torchia, 2007).
The debate of considering dolphins goes further to explore other aspects of personhood
such as being in control of one’s behavior. A person controls how he behaves, either as an
individual or as part of a group. Dolphins also perform in similar manner, as they are able to
control their behaviors despite being animals. Unlike other animals, which excrete anyhow even,
where they eat, for example, a cow can excrete on the same grass that she is eating, thereby
begging the question of intelligence or lack of it in some common herbivores. A dolphin

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DISCOVERING PHILOSOPHY 3
recognizes other dolphins, as well as, recognizing other fellow members of its species. This is a
common aspect of personality as an individual lives in a society, and as such, should pay
recognition to other members of the society in order to facilitate harmonious co-existence
(White, 2006).
The final aspect of personhood that draws dolphins much closer to the class of human
beings is their possession of a variety of sophisticated cognitive abilities. This means that the
dolphins are able to perform various tasks just as their human counterparts. Dolphins are able to
play a number of tricks, such as flying high into the air from the water, as well as, perform
exceptionally in a number of other cognitive and intellectual activities. This makes a dolphin
more of a human being than a fish, or an aquatic animal. The dolphin is also able to control its
breeding, do things that intelligent human beings do, and even outperform some humans in the
tests of intelligence. As such, all aspects point to the dolphin gaining recognition for personhood.
However, other critics who argue that possession of all the eight aspects of personhood do not
guarantee a creature to attain the status of personhood (White, 2009).
The main reasons why many critics disregard the issue of bestowing the status of
personhood on dolphins is the fact that dolphins are marine creature, and all marine creatures are
not persons. This is because a normal person, now considering a human being, cannot live in
water because human beings are warm-blooded animals. It is therefore queer for another warm-
blooded animal such as a dolphin to live in water throughout its life yet still attain the status of
personhood. The shape of a dolphin also cuts down on its consideration to personhood. This is
because a dolphin looks more like an intelligent fish rather than a stupid human being. Therefore,
strict comparison of a human being to a dolphin might seem like an offensive attack on the
individual involved. Nonetheless, these critics also argue that other animals can perform similar

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Just what I was looking for! Super helpful.

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