David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The concept of the person is widely assumed to be indispensable for making a rights claim. But a survey of the concept's appearance in legal discourse reveals that the concept is stretched to the breaking point. Personhood stands at the center of debates as diverse as the legal status of embryos and animals to the rights and responsibilities of corporations and nations. This Note argues that personhood is a cluster concept with distinct components: the biological concept of the human being, the notion of a rational agent, and unity of consciousness. Use of these component concepts (in lieu of the concept of the person) in legal reasoning would promote greater systematicity and coherence.
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