Could a zygote be a human being?

Bioethics 24 (2):61-70 (2010)
This paper re-examines the question of whether quirks of early human foetal development tell against the view (conceptionism) that we are human beings at conception. A zygote is capable of splitting to give rise to identical twins. Since the zygote cannot be identical with either human being it will become, it cannot already be a human being. Parallel concerns can be raised about chimeras in which two embryos fuse. I argue first that there are just two ways of dealing with cases of fission and fusion and both seem to be available to the conceptionist. One is the Replacement View according to which objects cease to exist when they fission or fuse. The other is the Multiple Occupancy View – both twins may be present already in the zygote and both persist in a chimera. So, is the conceptionist position tenable after all? I argue that it is not. A zygote gives rise not only to a human being but also to a placenta – it cannot already be both a human being and a placenta. Neither approach to fission and fusion can help the conceptionist with this problem. But worse is in store. Both fission and fusion can occur before and after the development of the inner cell mass of the blastocyst – the entity which becomes the embryo proper. The idea that we become human beings with the arrival of the inner cell mass leads to bizarre results however we choose to accommodate fission and fusion.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00689.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 27,678
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
No Problem.Christopher Tollefsen - 2009 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 83 (4):583-591.
Aborting the Zygote Argument.Stephen Kearns - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (3):379-389.
Fission, Fusion, and the Parfit Revolution.Douglas E. Ehring - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 94 (3):329-32.
Animalism, Dicephalus, and Borderline Cases.Stephan Blatti - 2007 - Philosophical Psychology 20 (5):595-608.
Metaphysical Accounts of the Zygote as a Person and the Veto Power of Facts.Thomas J. Bole - 1989 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 14 (6):647-653.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

100 ( #50,726 of 2,170,021 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #186,298 of 2,170,021 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums