Natural Kinds and Unnatural Persons
Kitcher (Patricia)
Source: Philosophy - 54:541-547 (1979)
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. What is the status of the classification "person?"
  2. In a recent paper David Wiggins proposes the surprising thesis that "person" is very like a natural kind1 term. ("Wiggins (David) - Locke, Butler and the Stream of Consciousness: And Men as Natural Kind", 1976).
  3. Wiggins' view is surprising, because computers, aliens or dolphins might someday be counted as persons and these entities are constitutionally very different from "homo sapiens".
  4. Although novel, I think Wiggins' approach to the classification "person" is very nearly right. I offer modification of the natural kind2 accounts of "person" which I believe shares the impressive advantages of this account, while avoiding its difficulties.

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