Monday, March 11, 2013

what is a person?

philomeme | What is a person?  Our debate defining ‘person’ is emotionally charged and rarely logical.  Words like ‘baby’, ‘corporation’, ‘human’, and ‘person’ are used interchangeably.  We all may have an opinion, but there is no common agreement on what is a person.

Historically women and slaves have not been considered persons, even in my own country.  Others wish to consider animals as persons and wish to grant them moral and legal rights.  Science mixes it up with tradition, religion, and law to give us a mind-numbing view of what a ‘person’ is.

When we have an opinion and seek facts to prove it, we are not being honest with truth.  Only when we seek facts first and keep an open mind can we seek truth.  Let’s examine some facts then consider what we mean when we say ‘person’.

Person

There is no legal definition of person agreed upon by states or nations.

In most societies today adult humans are usually considered persons.

If you look-up dictionary definitions of human and person they are circular.  A human is a person and person is a human.

To many a ‘person’ can include non-human entities such as animals, artificial intelligence, or extraterrestrial life.

There are even legal definitions that include entities such as corporations, nations, or even estates in probate as ‘persons’.  In some legal definitions those with extreme mental impairment or lack of brain function have been declassified as ‘persons”.

Religious fundamentalists want to push the definition of person to the moment of conception.

Meanwhile science is struggling to find a clear definition of what constitutes a human.

Some lawyers and politicians maintain that corporations are legally persons.

2 comments:

Mark Bloom said...

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