Embryonic personhood, human nature, and rational ensoulment

Heythrop Journal 47 (2):206–225 (2006)
This essay briefly describes a few of the problems associated with using personhood language to defend the right to life of the pre‐implantation embryo. Arguing that an immaterial soul explains the personal identity of an embryo is problematic for many people because there is no apparent spiritual activity in the unborn. While some scholars argue that the embryo has the potential to act as an adult person and thus should be protected from harm, others contend that potentiality alone is insufficient reason to ascribe special moral worth to the embryo in utero. For Thomas Aquinas, the soul is not only the life‐principle that organizes the human body, but it is also that by which the human being thinks and wills. By making suitable corrections to Aristotle's hylomorphic depiction of the soul–body relation, I suggest that a rational soul must be present from the moment of conception and that it is at the service of the person. What is of critical importance here is to accept that a human being is present from the moment of conception, something the vast majority of embryologists maintain, notwithstanding the inveiglement of those who state that the pre‐implantation blastocyst is simply a disorganized clump of cells
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2006.00285.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 31,334
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Was I Ever a Fetus?Eric T. Olson - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (1):95-110.
The Troublesome Concept of the Person.Gordijn Bert - 1999 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 20 (4):347-359.

View all 26 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Potentially Human? Aquinas on Aristotle on Human Generation.José Filipe Silva - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (1):3-21.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index

Total downloads
19 ( #291,053 of 2,225,328 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #425,048 of 2,225,328 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature