Once and Future Persons
Carter (William)
Source: American Philosophical Quarterly, 17, Jan. 1980, pp. 61-66
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Austin's thesis1 deserves attention when we run up against vexing questions as to whether certain "borderline" entities – a human fetus2 or infant, say, or an adult who has been irreversibly incapacitated but not killed in an automobile accident – is a person3. Can it happen in such cases that statements ascribing personhood "fit the facts" more or less loosely?
  2. It has been suggested by David Lewis and Derek Parfit, among others that there may be degrees of personhood4. Should that be so, there may be cases in which the "fit" between the facts of the situation and statements predicating personhood of some entity is "loose."
  3. The fact may be that the survivor of an accident is a person to some extent only. Should we think that a statement is true if and only if it fits, or corresponds to, the facts, and also think that the "fit" may be more or less loose, we will be well on the way to allowing that statements are true to the extent that they fit the facts.
  4. Regarded in this, all too hazy, light, there may be a point to the claim that there is some truth, but some truth only, in statements saying of certain entities that they are persons.
  5. The idea that there are gradations or degrees of truth poses tough problems in logic and semantics5. These problems are not addressed in this paper. It is the thesis that there are degrees of personhood6 that is the focus of attention.



In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: That Footnote 4: Footnote 5:

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