Who or What Are We?
Howsepian (Avak Albert)
Source: Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Mar., 1992), pp. 483-502
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. In this essay I critically evaluate the ontological conception of what some embryologists1 are now calling the "human preembryo2," as presently understood by Richard McCormick and Peter Van Inwagen.
  2. Both McCormick and van Inwagen imply that what is commonly referred to as the human preembryo3 could not be a human person. To wit, van Inwagen denies that there are any preembryos4 at all.
  3. Both of these philosophers base their conclusions primarily on the fact that, during the preembryonic5 gestational period, monozygotic twinning6 remains possible.
  4. I argue that given the conditions for being a person put forth by McCormick, and the conditions for being a composite material object suggested by van Inwagen, if what is commonly referred to as the human preembryo7 is neither a human person nor a material object, then neither are we.

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