As Christian medics we are called to demonstrate the reality of what we believe. At the heart of this secular philosophical perspective is the idea that you earn the right to be called a person by what you can do, by demonstrating that your brain is functioning adequately, by thinking and choosing. If a burglar came into your room at night and killed you painlessly in your sleep, would they have committed a crime? In an attempt to express the essence of the Akan concept of persons,Kwasi Wiredu refers to former Zambian President Kaunda's praiseof former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as “truly aperson.” The concept of person to which Kaunda referred has aparticular significance within the African cultural context. We use cookies to distinguish you from other users and to provide you with a better experience on our websites. specifically black African concept of the person, historically it served another important function, albeit one with a subversive political undertone. The idea of a person as hypostasis, derived from the Christian theology of the Trinity, gradually entered Western philosophy and remained of central importance up to the present century. Ultimately my personhood rests on the fact that God called me into existence and that he continues to know and love me.[3]. What does it mean to be a person in the light of the Christian revelation? We have retained this meaning when we refer to someone's 'persona'. This means that to end the lives of people against their will is different from ending the lives of beings who are not people…killing a person against his or her will is a much more serious wrong than killing a being who is not a person. Harry Frankfurt (1929- ), wrote, "[The criteria for being a person] are designed to capture those attributes which are the subject of our most humane concern with ourselves and the source of what we regard as most important and most problematical in our lives." People are improving their quality of life as a result of these techniques. And by contrast when we show compassion and love for the weakest and most pathetic members of our society, we are expressing an essential element of our humanity. Once this kind of definition is accepted, there are a number of logical implications. Thevi… Suppose I suffer severe brain injury but have the prospect of gradual recovery to normal consciousness over the next ten years. Check if you have access via personal or institutional login. In volume 2, chapters 3 and 4, I trace the conflict between two philosophies of social science. Leicester: IVP, 1998, Zizoulas J. What does it mean to be a person? The reason for the term "legal person" is that some legal persons are not people: companies and corporations are "persons" legally speaking, but they are clearly not people in the ordinary sense. Of course if, following rehabilitation, your cortical function recovers, then you will become a person again. We cannot rate some lives as more worthwhile, more valuable than others. Anomie According to Émile Durkheim . person. If someone kills me in my unconscious state are they guilty of the serious crime of killing a person or the less serious crime of killing a non-person? As we shall see, in the history of philosophy, the very idea of a person comes directly out of a Christian understanding of what it means to be a human being. The concept of a relationship, at first thought, seems simple – two people, typically a man and a woman, who are in love. 1 (Jan. 14, 1971), pp. I want here to explore some of these deeper ramifications, by looking at two conceptions of what it is to be a person. The Case of John. And if this is right then we cannot destroy one human life to provide embryonic stem cells for the benefit of another human life. Does the fetus (embryo, conceptus, and zygote) have any moral and/or legal rights? Anyone who pays attention to emerging technologies knows there is a lot confusion around the concept of blockchain. The original Greek word for person (prosopon) means literally 'the face', but in ancient Greek it also referred to the mask that actors used to represent the character they were playing in the theatre. In fact our lives are meant to be ones of 'mutual burdensomeness'! In this sense, sociologists define ideology as a person's worldview and recognize that there are various and competing ideologies operating in a society at any given time, some more dominant than others. Pijnenburg, Martien A.M. This is why the experience of rejection and isolation can be so psychologically devastating, and why children who have never experienced love and acceptance fail to develop into normal healthy adults. Singer and colleagues answer this challenge by arguing that personhood is only lost if consciousness is permanently lost, but why on logical grounds should this be so? What are the cri… But this is not because we estimate one life as less valuable or less morally significant than another. These sound like the abstruse musings of philosophers light years away from the practical issues of modern medicine. Let us now consider a case below using the concept of person. But the two underlying views do not just confront each other in social science. community which defines the person as person, not some isolated static quality of rationality, will, o r memory . Of course there are major logical problems with this kind of definition of personhood. Well-being is a valid population outcome measure beyond morbidity, mortality, and While people have been … See for example, Berry C. Beginnings: Christian Views of the Early Embryo. In addition to the question of personhood, of what makes a being count as a person to begin with, there ar Identity encompasses the memories, experiences, relationships, and values that create one’s sense of self. And although we cannot ultimately know in what sense God has a relationship with an embryo (and thoughtful Christians continue to differ on this issue),[5] it seems to me that we must treat even a microscopic human embryo as a unique and precious being whom God is calling into existence. But over the last two decades, a number of influential modern philosophers, including Peter Singer, Jonathan Glover and John Harris, have challenged traditional understandings of personhood. In effect Singer has replaced one form of discrimination with another. Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection. Read reviews from world’s largest community for readers. ‘AS EACH HAS RECEIVED A GIFT, USE IT TO SERVE ONE ANOTHER’. the African view it is the . And as human beings are made in God's image, we too are created as persons. The Concept of the Person and the Value of Life. Firstly it is immediately obvious that in order to be regarded as a person, you must have an advanced level of brain function. But in Christian thinking, whatever happens to you in the future, whatever disease or accident may befall your central nervous system, even if you are struck down by dementia or enter a persistent vegetative state, you will still be you: a unique and wonderful person known and loved by God. The type of credit used counts for 10% of a credit score and shows if a person has a mix of installment credit, such as car loans or mortgage loans, and revolving credit, such as credit cards. Being as Communion. A company limited by guarantee. A person must be a being with his own point of view on things. This is part of what it means to be a person. The malformed baby, the Alzheimer's sufferer, the unwanted fetus, and the person with terminal motor neurone disease; all have lives of unique significance and value, all are known and loved by God. But, coming to this conclusion in a thoroughly modern world can be detrimental to a person’s view of the world. As the theologian Gilbert Meilander put it, 'He was with us in the womb, as he will be with us in the tomb'.[4]. Sometimes it is right to withhold or withdraw medical treatment that is burdensome and can bring no lasting benefit. John Harris - 1999 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 9 (4):293-308. Where it is more than simply a synonym for ‘human being’, ‘person’ figures primarily in moral and legal discourse. The Epicureans considered the soul to be made up of atoms like the rest of the body. In law, a legal person is any person or 'thing' that can do the things an everyday person can usually do in law – such as enter into contracts, sue and be sued, own property, and so on. In fact if we are into name-calling we could call him a 'corticalist'. Oxford: OUP, 1995:198, Meilander G. Bioethics: A Primer for Christians. However, the concept of ideology itself is actually general in nature and not tied to one particular way of thinking. Peter Singer puts it like this, 'only a person can want to go on living, or have plans for the future, because only a person can understand the possibility of a future existence for herself or himself. 5-20 We are lovingly designed by our Creator to reflect his character and nature. It begins with acceptance, which probably isn’t what you think. For Peter Singer a person is a being who has a capacity for enjoyable experiences, for interacting with others and for having preferences about conti… But even if I am rejected by other humans, I am still a person. We come into the world totally dependent on the love and care of others, we go through a stage of life when we care for others, and most of us will end our lives totally dependent on the love and care of others. is not a question of biology, but a question of other attributes. Close this message to accept cookies or find out how to manage your cookie settings. Running through all this we can identify a necessary (but not sufficient) condition. It's a definition that led ultimately to the modern concepts of Singer and Harris. It is the public face they show to the world. For John Harris a person is any being who is capable of valuing their own life. Gordijn, Bert In order to summon a Persona, one must use an Evoker, though there are some cases where an Evoker is not required for summoning. Though the concept of anomie is most closely associated with Durkheim's study of suicide, in fact, he first wrote about it in his 1893 book The Division of Labor in Society. The Concept of the Person and the Value of Life. Is the Concept of the Person Necessary for Human Rights? The term personality has been defined in many ways, but as a psychological concept … Matters of Life and Death. A flexible self-concept and the ability to change through experience; The ability to trust one's experiences and form values based on those experiences; Unconditional self-regard; Does not feel the need to distort or deny experiences; Open to feedback and willing to make realistic changes; Lives in … John Harris - 1999 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 9 (4):293-308. God's ultimate being (what 'lay under' his activity), was in the form of persons - persons giving themselves to one another in love. Greatest benefit: because we have a “concept of a person”, we are able to interact with our own minds and bodies without having to understand everything about how or brains and bodies work. Instead we should make moral distinctions on the basis of 'ethically relevant characteristics', such as the ability to choose and value your own life. Is the fetus a human person and, thus, should be protected? A person is a being who has a sense of self, has a notion of the future and the past, can hold values, make choices; in short, can adopt life-plans. But in fact disagreements about personhood lie at the heart of many current bioethical debates, including those involving stem cell manipulation, prenatal screening, medical infanticide, the persistent vegetative state, dementia and psychiatric illness. So even if a patient with a terminal illness feels that their own life is worthless and requests the right to be killed, we cannot agree. Well-being integrates mental health (mind) and physical health (body) resulting in more holistic approaches to disease prevention and health promotion.6 2. For centuries it was generally accepted that the terms 'person' and 'living human being' were virtually equivalent. Boethius und die Tradition. It's a huge topic and I can only point out a few headlines. A person is a being who can be addressed, and who can reply. Registered in England no. At least, a person must be the kind of being who is in principle capable of all this, however damaged these capacities may be in practice. CMF Files no 10. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua - unknown. We are meant to be a burden to one another. Thirdly, as far as we know, of all the species on the planet only Homo sapiens is made in God's image and hence only human beings can be called persons. New York: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991, Singer P. Rethinking Life and Death. Erwin Sonderegger - 1994 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 48 (4):558–571. But there are other ideas that have been completely left out of the conversation. For the Platonists, the soul was an immaterial and incorporeal substance, akin to the gods yet part of the world of change and becoming. When it comes down to it, a self-concept is a perception you have of your image, abilities, and in some ways a perception of your own individual uniqueness. Hence we are to treat all human beings, however tragically incapacitated, with wonder, reverence and respect. Draw strength and encouragement by meeting up with like-minded members in your church, community, region, workplace, specialty or via social media. 1131658. covid-19 voices from the frontline podcast, McFarlane G, Moore P. What is a Person? An increasingly existential lifestyle. This controversy has a long history and is still heavily discussed among researchers and the public—both in terms of morality and in terms of legality. Those who meet the criteria of persons have moral rights and privileges. It is only recently that the basic concept has been derided and challenged by a number of philosophers, including Singer and colleagues. Find courses and resources which will help you grow to Christian maturity and better apply your faith to your work. Printed from:, ‘WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER... LET ALL THINGS BE DONE FOR BUILDING UP’. 2) a corporation treated as having the rights and obligations of a person. This perception you have of yourself is based on the information you have gathered about your … This is the way we demonstrate God's image. At the moment as you read this article you can be regarded as a person. But if, when you walk out of your door, a brick falls on your head leading to cortical damage, you are no longer a person. The life-plan, the choices, the sense of self must be attributable to him as in some sense their point of origin. London: CMF, 2000, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat (Book Review), Saunders P. Deadly Questions on the Status of the Embryo. Human beings are godlike beings. As Christians we must plead guilty to the charge of speciesism, because our God is speciesist! John O’Brien is an 81 year old man. The early church fathers, as they reflected on the nature of the Godhead and the meaning of the Trinity, fastened on this word hypostasis to describe the three persons of the Trinity. They also polarize the other sciences of man – psychology, for instance; and beyond that they inspire rival pictures of morality and human life. But why should corticalism be preferable to speciesism? It is necessary to look briefly at some rather abstract theological history, but I hope it will become plain how it is relevant to the modern debate. In Christian thinking we are all bound together in bonds of duty and care. Am I a person in the intervening period? At least, a person must be the kind of being who is in principle capable of all this, however damaged these capacities may be in practice. Of course Singer may wish to argue that cortical functioning is 'ethically relevant' whereas species membership is not. As we will see, this has led them to some startling conclusions. We tend to filter our experiences through the lens of what we … Thirdly, there are many non-human beings on the planet who meet the criteria of persons. Although the concept of person may, for some, be very useful in debates about beginning and end of life issues, it might pose some difficulties for other nursing situations. What does it mean to be a person? It is interesting that this is how the word is used in the Greek New Testament. Human beings do not need to earn the right to be treated as godlike beings. But over the last two decades, a number of influential modern philosophers, including Peter Singer, Jonathan Glover and John Harris, have challenged traditional understandings of personhood. It includes behavioral characteristics, both inherent and acquired, that distinguish one person from another and that can be observed in people’s relations to the environment and to the social group. They deserve to be protected from those who would injure or kill them. For Peter Singer my personhood depends on what I can do, on the functioning of my cerebral cortex. Just as the three persons of the Trinity are individually unique, yet give themselves continually in love, so each human person is unique, yet made for relationship with others. The following basic questions may characterize the subject in more detail: Is abortion morally justifiable? But the same rights and privileges do not extend to non-persons. Personhood is not something we can have in isolation - in Christian thinking it is a relational concept. '[1] In other words killing a chimpanzee is a much greater moral evil than killing a newborn baby or an adult with Alzheimer's disease. The intentional killing of one person damages all of us, because we are all locked together in community. These include at least chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys and dolphins, but may also include dogs, pigs and many other mammals. In fact it has even been argued that within the foreseeable future some supercomputers may meet the criteria to be regarded as persons. 1. Personhood as defined above is a remarkably fragile and contingent property. One of the most important issues in biomedical ethics is the controversy surrounding abortion. entity or group considered collectively as a single individual for legal purposes A Persona can actually be artificially created, but because the Persona does not come naturally to its artificial user, it becomes violent and difficult to control; if the Persona-us… On purely logical grounds species membership is a more coherent and fundamental basis for making ethical distinctions between beings. higher moral status than living things that cannot credibly be classified as persons According to Cartesian dualism, a person is a combination of the body and mind which are distinct but causally connected substances. There are … As Kaundaexplains, “personhood is not an automatic quality of the humanindividual; it is something to be achieved, the higher theachievement, the higher the credit” (Wiredu 1992, 104). Is a good person in America the same as a good person in communist North Korea? In philosophy, "what is a person?" Only human beings, in all the vast array of life on planet Earth, have this privilege and responsibility. Offer your knowledge and experience to serve patients and colleagues both here and abroad through medical work, mentoring, pastoral support, encouragement, prayer, giving or being a CMF Link. They are concerned with persons in the broad sense in which every individual human being can be counted as a person. Instead of discriminating on the basis of species, he is now arguing that we should discriminate on the grounds of cortical function. Although we are called to treat not only chimpanzees and dolphins but all sentient beings with care, as befits beings made by God, we cannot value their lives as equal to those of humans. This does not mean that we have an absolute duty to provide every possible treatment, or to continue life-supporting treatment in every case. For centuries it was generally accepted that the terms 'person' and 'living human being' were virtually equivalent. © 2020 Christian Medical Fellowship. It is characteristic of persons in this sense that besides having various physical properties, including that of occupying a continuous series of spatial positions throughout a given period of time, they are also credited with various forms of consciousness. So how do we respond as Christians? Television wasn’t spared by the pandemic, but there were still more great shows than any one person could watch. A person is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of property, or legal responsibility. and But this is an arbitrary distinction that is hard to defend on entirely logical grounds. Within the Free-will Debate, there are three main schools of thought: Hard Determi… We are called to protect all human beings from abuse, from manipulation and from any who would deliberately end their life. Firstly, in Christian thinking my moral value and significance does not depend on the vagaries of my CNS function, but on my creation in God's image. Each human being deserves our wonder, respect and compassionate care. For Peter Singer a person is a being who has a capacity for enjoyable experiences, for interacting with others and for having preferences about continued life. A person is a being with a certain moral status, or a bearer of rights. These include fetuses, newborn babies and infants who lack self awareness, and a large group of children and adults with congenital brain abnormalities, severe brain injury, dementia and major psychiatric illnesses. On Singer's definition it is not at all clear if a human being who is anaesthetised, comatose, intoxicated, delirious, psychotically confused or merely asleep remains a person. However in Hebrews 1:3 the Son is described as the exact representation of God's person and a different word is used, hypostasis, which literally means 'what lies under'. We can have relationships with other people without having to know everything about them, and we can find ways to live healthier, longer, and more happily without knowing exactly why everything works the way … It is God's love that preserves our identity throughout the whole of our lifetime - whatever tragic and unexpected events may befall us - and on into eternity. Journal of Philosophy, Inc. Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person Author(s): Harry G. Frankfurt Source: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. Secondly, whereas the law does not recognise personhood until the moment of birth, Christian thinking points to the moral significance of the unborn fetus. As we saw, to Peter Singer your personhood might disappear at any moment if your cortex starts to malfunction. Descartes came up with the famous statement, 'I think, therefore I am'. The literal Greek says that he is not a respecter of persons, meaning that he is not influenced by our external and social role.[2]. The concept of personhood is widely involved in biomedical ethics discussions about abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia, etc., though it is not always discussed explicitly. It is by our behaviour, by our compassionate caring, by our sensitivity and respect for the dignity of every patient, the helpless, the confused, the malformed, the unborn and the disabled, that we can really provide the answer. However, corporations, counties and cities cannot have the emotions of humans such as malice, and therefore are not liable for punitive damages. Nucleus 1999; April:36,37, Wyatt J. Secondly, there must be a significant group of human beings who are non-persons. Is it possible to be a human being but not a person? It also has other philosophical and legal relevance. It will be useful to distinguish among different types, contexts, or meanings of personhood: moral, metaphysical, physical, and legal. Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was a humanistic psychologist who agreed with the main assumptions of Abraham Maslow.However, Rogers (1959) added that for a person to "grow", they need an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with unconditional positive regard), and empathy (being listened to and understood). At several points God is described as one who shows no favouritism. We reflect God's nature in our personhood; we are created to give ourselves to God and to others in love. As illustrated so powerfully in Psalm 139, God is involved with us even in the intrauterine environment. Ancient Greek concepts of the soul varied considerably according to the particular era and philosophical school. A person is a being who has a sense of self, has a notion of the future and the past, can hold values, make choices; in short, can adopt life-plans. 6949436. My being comes not from my rational abilities but from the fact that I am known and loved - first of all by God himself, and secondly by other human beings. Counties and cities can be treated as a person in the same manner as a corporation. I say yes; a good person is unlike the good citizen whose virtue is relevant to the regime in which they live; the good person is a good person no matter the regime while the good citizen is only representative of that which the state deems best. John Wyatt explores a fundamental ethical concept, uniting & equipping Christian doctors & nurses. The defining features of personhood and consequently what makes a person count as a person differ widely among cultures and contexts. Harry Frankfurt says that one of those attributes is the structure of the will. A phrase frequently used in tort and Criminal Law to denote a hypothetical person in society who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct and who serves as a comparative standard for determining liability.. But underlying the moral status, as its condition, are certain capacities. n. 1) a human being. When people respond with incredulity, Singer argues that to make moral distinctions on the basis of species is to be guilty of a new crime, 'speciesism'. Get equipped to speak up confidently and with conviction about what you believe and why in your church, workplace, community and in the public square. Concept of a Person book. This is the way he has made us to be. They should be allowed to exercise their own choices or autonomy as much as possible. Can something so fundamental as personhood be so fragile? and Immanuel Kant. Finally, as we saw, there is no such thing as an isolated human person, and therefore we cannot take ethical decisions as though human beings are isolated entities. 68, No. ‘WHOEVER SPEAKS, AS ONE WHO SPEAKS ORACLES OF GOD’. Nucleus 1998; July:28-34, Berry C,Saunders P. Head to Head - Prenatal Screening. As I've tried to demonstrate it's not just a question of academic philosophy. This Christian understanding of personhood is much more permanent, more resilient, than the secular one. Why should the functioning of a 5mm layer of neurones be the central and only moral discriminating feature between beings? An Akan Perspective on Human Rights in the Context of African Development. London: CMF, 1993. By contrast we might suggest an alternative Christian version, 'You love me, therefore I am'. Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1997:30. A person’s self-image is based on how they see themselves, while self-concept is a more comprehensive evaluation of the self, largely based on how a person sees themselves, values themselves, thinks about themselves, and feels about themselves. In Greek and Roman thinking what mattered about an individual was the face they showed to the world, the role they played in society. Some thinkers use the term “person” in such a way that one is either a person or not, but the situation is not that simple. As we will see, this has led them to some startling conclusions. Our dignity is intrinsic, in the stuff of our being, in the way God has made us and the way he knows and loves us. Humanism took on essentially the same understanding of the human person, although its theological basis was conveniently forgotten. What duties do we owe to persons as opposed to non-persons? In fact you must have a completely developed and normally functioning cerebral cortex. So what are the practical implications for medical ethics of this rather abstract theology? And even when we were in our mother's womb, God was loving us and calling us into existence. But in Christian thinking my personhood rests on who I am, on the fact that God has called me into existence, and continues to know and love me. According to Kant, a person has reason and is moral (governed by the categorical imperative). Registered Charity no. Is the Concept of the Person Necessary for Human Rights? 2005. Reasonable Person.