The Metaphysical Status of the Embryo: Some Arguments Revisited
Oderberg (David)
Source: Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2008): 263-76
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. This paper re-examines some well-known and commonly accepted arguments for the non-individuality of the embryo1, due mainly to the work of John Harris.
    1. The first concerns the alleged non-differentiation of the embryoblast2 from the trophoblast.
    2. The second concerns monozygotic twinning3 and the relevance of the primitive streak.
    3. The third concerns the totipotency of the cells of the early embryo4.
  2. I argue that on a proper analysis of both the empirical facts of embryological5 development, and the metaphysical importance or otherwise of those facts, all three arguments are found wanting. None of them establishes that the embryo6 is not an individual human being from the moment of conception.


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