- During the last decade there has been a growing body of literature about the ethics of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and suicide. In spite of the claims of philosophers like John Rawls and Kai Nielsen, who assert that ethics can and ought to be done without metaphysics, the central issues emerging in this body of literature involve, crucially and essentially, a treatment of metaphysical themes — the nature of being human, personhood and personal identity.
- Ultimately, one’s views on these matters will merely elaborate the more basic metaphysical question, Are human persons substances or property-things? Unfortunately, among ethicists who treat end-of-life issues there is a widespread trend of avoiding serious metaphysical analysis in conjunction with these issues. Often, what follows are not conclusions purged of metaphysics but rather conclusions guided by an inadequate metaphysical perspective implicit (or supposedly implicit) in natural science.
- The thesis of this chapter is that strict philosophical naturalists and Christian complementarians are united by the inner logic of their views in depicting human persons as property-things and that this depiction has serious, troublesome implications for the ethical issues mentioned in the last half of this book. To justify this thesis we will do three things:
- Describe strict philosophical naturalism and the view of human persons implied by it
- Describe Christian complementarianism and the view of human persons implied by it
- Present a brief description of a representative example of a Christian complementarian view of human persons developed explicitly in light of ethical issues
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