Living on the Edge: The Margins of Legal Personhood, Symposium Foreword

10 Pages Posted: 29 May 2009

See all articles by Kimberly Kessler Ferzan

Kimberly Kessler Ferzan

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Date Written: May 26, 2009


In January 2008, at the Association of American Law Schools' annual meeting, the Jurisprudence Section conducted a panel on "The Margins of Legal Personhood." The goal of this panel was to draw (or sever) connections between and among different "marginal" entities: the psychopath, the animal, and the embryo or fetus. As is perhaps immediately apparent, these entities are not marginalized in a political sense, but rather lie at the margins of our moral and legal communities. Prima facie, they may have some, but lack all, of the capacities necessary for full membership. Because they live on the edge, we must question whether they may be held responsible and whether they have rights. And, throughout our analysis, we should remain consistent - the test for one entity should apply to another, absent some principled distinction between them. The articles in this symposium take seriously these concerns with regard to animals, abortion, and psychopathy. This brief Foreword serves both to introduce the ideas presented in the articles and to attempt to draw connections between them.

Keywords: rights, psychopath, animal rights, abortion

Suggested Citation

Ferzan, Kimberly Kessler, Living on the Edge: The Margins of Legal Personhood, Symposium Foreword (May 26, 2009). Rutgers Law Journal, Vol. 39, No. 2, Winter 2008, Available at SSRN:

Kimberly Kessler Ferzan (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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