The Philosophical Criteria for Personhood

Philosophical theories of personhood have typically aimed at providing criteria with which to distinguish persons from non-persons. In modern philosophy, forms of self-consciousness and rationality have dominated the lists of criteria, whereas in pre-modern philosophy the distinction between a human being and a person was usually rejected. Personhood is not a matter of functionality. If it were, we would run into some very confusing problems. Based solely on functionality, a businessman would cease being a businessman when he leaves his place of work.
Although the defenders of personhood criteria do not agree on everything, their underlying philosophical assumptions are similar enough that it is safe to say that if I can show that these assumptions are significantly flawed then no personhood criteria theory can succeed in supporting the abortion-rights position.
According to Beckwith, an ordinary unborn human entity is a person, and hence, fully human. The unborn are not potential persons but persons with much potential. In addition, Korfmacher explained a criterion of personal identity which specifies, insofar as that is possible, the necessary and sufficient conditions for the survival of persons.


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