Non-human (also spelled nonhuman) is any entity displaying some, but not enough, human characteristics to be considered a human. The term has been used in a variety of contexts and may refer to objects that have been developed with human intelligence, such as robots or vehicles.
Animal rights and personhood
In the animal rights movement, it is common to distinguish between "human animals" and "non-human animals". Participants in the animal rights movement generally recognize that non-human animals have some similar characteristics to those of human persons. For example, various non-human animals have been shown to register pain, compassion, memory, and some cognitive function. Some animal rights activists argue that the similarities between human and non-human animals justify giving non-human animals rights that human society has afforded to humans, such as the right to self-preservation, and some even wish for all non-human animals or at least those that bear a fully thinking and conscious mind, such as vertebrates and some invertebrates such as cephalopods, to be given a full right of personhood.
The non-human in philosophy
Contemporary philosophers have drawn on the work of Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Claude Lévi-Strauss (among others) to suggest that the non-human poses epistemological and ontological problems for humanist and post-humanist ethics, and have linked the study of non-humans to materialist and ethological approaches to the study of society and culture.
Sandra the Orangutan
Sandra (born February 14, 1986, in Rostock Zoo in East Germany) is an orangutan, currently living in the Center for Great Apes in Florida after being moved from the Buenos Aires Zoo in 2019. Sandra is a zoo-born, hybrid orangutan of the two separate species of Borneo and Sumatra orangutans. In Germany, Sandra, then called Marisa, was transferred to a second zoo in Germany, then transferred to Argentina on September 17, 1994. In the Buenos Aires Zoo the name of the orangutan was changed to Sandra.
Sandra had a baby girl called Shembira or Gembira, who was born on March 2, 1999, and was transferred to Xixiakou Wild Animal Park, Rongcheng, Sandong, China in 2008. During the amparo court case in Buenos Aires in 2015, it was revealed that an attempt by the Buenos Aires zoo to mate Sandra with an orangutan named Max failed because Sandra preferred instead to sit outside in the rain and snow.
On December 18, 2014, Sandra was termed by the court in Argentina as a "subject of rights" in an unsuccessful habeas corpus case regarding the release of the orangutan from captivity at the Buenos Aires zoo. The decision turning down the habeas corpus application also led to the court's direction to prosecute alleged cruelty by the zoo through the prosecutor's office in Buenos Aires in 2015. The brief "subject of rights" statement left the status of the orangutan Sandra as a "non-human being" uncertain legally, until on October 21, 2015, Justice Elena Amanda Liberatori ruled in an amparo case with Sandra that the orangutan is "una persona no humana" or "a non-human person" and ordered the city of Buenos Aires to provide what is "necessary to preserve her cognitive abilities". A few days after the decision, both sides said they would appeal.
The term non-human has been used to describe computer programs and robot-like devices that display some human-like characteristics. In both science fiction and in the real world, computer programs and robots have been built to perform tasks that require human-computer interactions in a manner that suggests sentience and compassion. There is increasing interest in the use of robots in nursing homes and to provide elder care. Computer programs have been used for years in schools to provide one-on-one education with children. The Tamagotchi toy required children to provide care, attention, and nourishment to keep it "alive".
- "the definition of nonhuman". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- Laurie, Timothy (2015), "Becoming-Animal Is A Trap For Humans: Deleuze and Guattari in Madagascar", Deleuze and the Non-Human eds. Hannah Stark and Jon Roffe.
- Whatmore, Sarah (2006), 'Materialist Returns: Practising Cultural Geography In and For a More-Than-Human World', Cultural Geographies, 13, pp. 600-09.
- Nick Bilton (May 19, 2013), "Disruptions: Helper Robots Are Steered, Tentatively, to Care for the Aging", The New York Times, retrieved 2013-05-24