On the very idea of criteria for personhood

Chappell, Timothy (2011). On the very idea of criteria for personhood. Southern Journal of Philosophy, 49(1) pp. 1–27.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2041-6962.2010.00042.x

Abstract

I examine the familiar criterial view of personhood, according to which the possession of personal properties such as self-consciousness, emotionality, sentience, and so forth is necessary and sufficient for the status of a person. I argue that this view confuses criteria for personhood with parts of an ideal of personhood. In normal cases, we have already identified a creature as a person before we start looking for it to manifest the personal properties, indeed this pre-identification is part of what makes it possible for us to see and interpret the creature as a person in the first place. This pre-identification is typically based on biological features. Except in some interesting special or science-fiction cases, some of which I discuss, it is human animals that we identify as persons.

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