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Legally Human? 'Novel Beings' and English Law

Lookup NU author(s): David Lawrence



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Oxford University Press, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press; All rights reserved. Novel beings-intelligent, conscious life-forms sapient in the same way or greater than are human beings-are no longer the preserve of science fiction. Through technologies such as artificial general intelligence, synthetic genomics, gene printing, cognitive enhancement, advanced neuroscience, and more, they are becoming ever more likely and by some definitions may already be emerging. Consideration of the nature of intelligent, conscious novel beings such as those that may result from these technologies requires analysis of the concept of the 'reasonable creature in being' in English law, as well as of the right to life as founded in the European Convention on Human Rights and the attempts to endow human status on animals in recent years. Our exploration of these issues leads us to conclude that there is a strong case to recognize such 'novel' beings as entitled to the same fundamental rights to life, freedom from inhumane treatment, and liberty as we are.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lawrence DR, Brazier M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Medical Law Review

Year: 2018

Volume: 26

Issue: 2

Pages: 309-327

Print publication date: 01/05/2018

Online publication date: 17/04/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Date deposited: 13/06/2018

ISSN (print): 0967-0742

ISSN (electronic): 1464-3790

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/medlaw/fwy017


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