Hastings Law Journal


Jessica Berg


What is a person? What responsibilities or obligations do we have to entities that we recognize as persons under the law? These are not simply theoretical questions. Questions of legal personhood have already faced courts and legislatures and are likely to become more relevant as technology advances.

Legal personhood has largely been ignored outside of the corporate context. Yet there is a pressing need to answer the question of what constitutes a person. This Article's focus is on legal status and the ways in which the law should recognize rights and interests of certain entities.

There are two bases for according legal personhood status (either natural or juridicial), and there are distinct rights and protections that flow from each status. In both cases, the right and protections that follow from legal personhood status should be limited by the justification for granting the status in the first place. The Article applies and considers the implications of the proposed framework to various entities including embryos and fetuses, non-human animals, and machines with artificial intelligence.

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