On the Notion of Moral Status and Personhood in Biomedical Ethics

The Dhaka Univrsity Studies 67 (1):83-96 (2010)

Authors
Azam Golam
La Trobe University
Abstract
Personhood argument is important in moral philosophy specially to determine the moral status of a being (human or non-human) and organism. Justifying moral status of these is significant and necessary because without knowing whether those substances have moral status, it is difficult to sketch a moral considering framework for moral action towards them. There are a number of standards e.g. sentience, higher cognitive capacities, the capacity to flourish, sociability, the possession of life, viability, personhood etc, to determine moral status of human beings, non-human beings and organisms. In biomedical ethics it is widely discussed whether the abnormal and marginal human beings, animals and foetus are moral agents. The beings and organisms which qualify the test for moral status are considered as moral agents and the society has moral obligations to ensure their moral rights. Personhood is one of the criteria to determine a being or organism as a moral agent. In this article I will examine whether the argument of personhood is acceptable in justifying the agency of different kinds of beings and organisms. It is because the personhood requirement for the moral status is too demanding as claimed by contemporary ethicists who work for animal rights and the rights of the foetus to flourish.
Keywords Moral status, person, biomedical ethics, moral obligation  moral personhood
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