Paradigms and personhood: A deepening of the dilemmas in ethics and medical ethics

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 20 (2):141-160 (1999)
There are many calls for a definitions personhood, but also many logical and Wittgensteinian reasons to think fulfilling this is unimportant or impossible. I argue that we can consider many contexts as language-games and consider the person as the key player in each. We can then examine the attributes, presuppositions and implications of personhood in those contexts. I use law and therapeutic psychology as two examples of such contexts or language-games. Each correlates with one of the classic “theories” of ethics-deontology and consequentialism. But each is a large enough cluster to consider them as paradigms in a sense related to Thomas Kuhn's notion in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Showing the presuppositions about and “takes” on personhood together with the connections involved in the paradigms deepens the dilemmas we already know to be present.
Keywords person  paradigm  deontology  law  psychology  ethics  dilemmas  language-games
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009965317097
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