Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1-1-2019


The debate over ape personhood is of great social and moral importance. For more than twenty-five years, attorney Steven Wise has been arguing that animals who have cognitive complexities similar to humans should be legally granted basic rights of au- tonomy. In my view, granting personhood status and other rights to great apes are at- tainable goals. But how should we go about it? My worry is that Thompson’s suggest- ed strategy relies on Kantian ethics, in particular on Kant’s notion of autonomy. In fact, I am worried about Kantian ethics in general because of its influence on morality and ultimately on our legal system.


Originally published as, Alvaro, C. "Missing the Apes of the Trees for the Forest" ASEBL, Volume 14, Issue 1, January 1, 2019, pp. 36-38,

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