Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2018

Honors Major Advisor

Carrie Figdor

Thesis Mentor

Diane Jeske


John Rawls’s approach to political philosophy, like other contractarian theories, is non-sympathetic to those who don’t qualify as moral persons.[1] Mark Rowlands challenges this position in “Contractarianism and Animal Rights” by arguing that species, as well as strength, class, intelligence et al. is a natural asset that ought to be hidden behind the veil of ignorance. As such, parties in the original position must extend the principles of justice to non-human animals as a matter of personal interest. I argue that criticisms of Rowlands’ claim are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of personhood, and so what it means to be a proper recipient of justice. The aims of this paper are threefold: first, to discuss various criticisms of Rowlands’ essay; second, to establish an alternative definition of personhood; and lastly, to explore the implications of what an expanded account of rights might entail.
[1] Moral personhood in the Rawlsian sense will be discussed at greater length later on


Rawls, Original Postion, Animal Rights, Personhood

Total Pages

31 pages


Copyright © 2018 Michael Corazza