When does a person begin?

Social Philosophy and Policy 22 (2):25-48 (2005)
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Abstract

According to the Constitution View of persons, a human person is wholly constituted by (but not identical to) a human organism. This view does justice both to our similarities to other animals and to our uniqueness. As a proponent of the Constitution View, I defend the thesis that the coming-into-existence of a human person is not simply a matter of the coming-into-existence of an organism, even if that organism ultimately comes to constitute a person. Marshalling some support from developmental psychology, I give a broadly materialistic account of the coming-into-existence of a human person. I argue for the metaphysical superiority of the Constitution View to Biological Animalism, Thomistic Animalism, and other forms of Substance Dualism. I conclude by discussing the single implication of the Constitution View for thinking about abortion. Footnotesa Thanks to Gareth Matthews and Catherine E. Rudder for comments. I am also grateful to other contributors to this volume, especially Robert A. Wilson, Marya Schechtman, David Oderberg, Stephen Braude, and John Finnis.

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Author's Profile

Lynne Rudder Baker
PhD: Vanderbilt University; Last affiliation: University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Citations of this work

Animalism.Andrew M. Bailey - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (12):867-883.
Personal Identity and Ethics.David Shoemaker - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Persons and the metaphysics of resurrection.Lynne Rudder Baker - 2007 - Religious Studies 43 (3):333-348.
On Hylemorphism and Personal Identity.Patrick Toner - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):454-473.
The Moral Insignificance of Self‐consciousness.Joshua Shepherd - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (4).

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References found in this work

Was I Ever a Fetus?Eric T. Olson - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (1):95-110.
Were You a Zygote?G. E. M. Anscombe - 1984 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 18:111-115.
The Monist.[author unknown] - 1918 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 86:505-510.

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