- In this paper, I examine alternative views of personhood and how they affect our understanding of life and death.
- Building on David Wiggins's insight that our concept of person tries to hold in a single focus our nature as a biological being, a subject of consciousness, and a locus of moral values, I argue against views that try to reduce persons to one of these aspects at the expense of the others.
- Thought experiments1 that have been prominent in the literature on personal identity are criticized on grounds that they sunder persons from the moral and cultural context in which they appear and ignore an essential relational aspect of persons.
- I argue for a substantive view of persons that understands persons as "constituted by" but not identical to human organisms, and that treats persons as having essential relational properties.
- Persons are thus beings whose nature is not determined entirely by their biology or psychology but is, in part, a matter of individual, moral, and cultural construction.
- I argue that such a view provides the best theoretical grounding to answer the more practical, bioethical questions concerning the beginning and end of life.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)