Personhood and Moral Status

In Antonia LoLordo (ed.), Persons: A History. Oxford University Press. pp. 334-362 (2019)

Authors
Julie Tannenbaum
Pomona College
Agnieszka Jaworska
University of California, Riverside
Abstract
This chapter focuses on moral personhood understood in terms of the notion of moral status. An entity is said to have moral status only if it or its interest matters morally for its own sake. Nonutilitarians tend to think of moral status in terms of entitlements and protections that can conflict with, and sometimes override, doing what would maximize the good and minimize the bad. If moral status comes in degrees, and if there is a status of the highest degree (i.e., full moral status), then moral persons are those with full moral status. After giving a more precise account of it, we assess different views of what it takes to qualify for full moral status (some of which appeal to metaphysical notions of person). We also briefly discuss how metaphysical notions of personhood are put to moral use in utilitarian moral theorizing that eschews the notion of moral personhood.
Keywords moral status  personhood  moral person  moral personhood  fetus  disability
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