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October 2021

The troublesome concept of the person

Journal/Book: Theor Med Bioeth. 1999; 20: Spuiboulevard 50, PO Box 17, 3300 AA Dordrecht, Netherlands. Kluwer Academic Publ. 347-359.

Abstract: In today's bioethical debates, the concept of the person plays a major role. However, it does not hold this role justly. The purpose of this paper is to argue that the concept of the person is unsuited to be a central concept in bioethical debates, because its use is connected with serious problems. First, the concept is superfluous. Secondly, it is a confusing concept and it lacks pragmatic use. Thirdly, its use leads to simplifications. Finally, the concept can easily be used as a cover-up concept. Therefore, it is argued that relinquishing the concept of the person could enhance the clarity and quality of bioethical debate. Moreover, the historic origin of much of the present confusion surrounding the concept of the person is clarified. It is demonstrated that three influences resulting from Locke's ideas on the person and personal identity can be determined as contributing factors to the confusion and controversy within the present bioethical debates centering around the person.

Note: Article Gordijn B, Univ Nijmegen, Dept Eth Philosophy & Hist Med, Geert Grootepl 21, POB 9101, NL-6500 HB Nijmegen, NETHERLANDS

Keyword(s): bioethics; Descartes; dualism; Locke; moral status; person; personal identity; DEFINITION

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