The Nonindividuation Argument Against Zygotic Personhood
Guenin (Louis M.)
Source: Philosophy - 81, Jul2006, Issue 317
Paper - Abstract

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  1. A widely circulated objection to the use of human embryos solely as means — as in embryonic stem cell research — consists in the thesis of zygotic1 personhood2, the thesis that every activated human oocyte and any developmental successor is a person for purposes of the duty not to kill.
  2. Some philosophers stand opposed to zygotic personhood because they demand some cerebral attribute (e.g., reason or self-awareness) for personhood.
  3. Others have replied to zygotic personhood by arguing that an embryo less than two weeks old is not even a human individual, and therefore could not be a person. For many scientists and others, the latter argument’s attack on individuality has clinched the case for embryo use.
  4. In this paper, I study this argument, its shortcomings, the prospects for rehabilitation, and where things stand in its aftermath.

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