Nine months
Kingma (Elselijn)
Source: Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. (In Press; 18 November 2018)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. When did we begin to exist? Barry Smith & Berit Brogaard ("Smith (Barry) & Brogaard (Berit) - Sixteen Days", 2003) argue that a new human organism comes into existence neither earlier nor later than the moment of gastrulation: 16 days after conception. Several critics have responded that the onset of the organism must happen earlier; closer to conception.
  2. This paper makes a radically different claim: if we accept Smith & Brogaard’s ontological commitments, then human organisms start, on average, roughly nine months after conception.
  3. The main point of contention is whether the fetus is or is not part of the maternal organism. Smith & Brogaard argue that it is not; I demonstrate that it is. This claim in combination with Smith & Brogaard’s own criteria commits to the view that human organisms begin, precisely, at birth.


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