The philosophical studies of Yamaguchi University

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The philosophical studies of Yamaguchi University Volume 7
published_at 1998

A comment on the concept of `person' in bioethics

現代の「人格」理論 : 「パーソン論」に対する一注釈
Kato Kazuya
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In this essay I argued the concept of person which underlies some ethical issues today, such as moral justification of abortion, euthanasia of heavily disabled infants, etc. Michael Tooley, for example, argued that only those self-conscious are the ‘person' who has full moral right to live. The argument has received much criticism (in Japan) that it presupposes a very narrow idea of a human being, namely person as rational self-conscious agent, which comes from John Locke or Immanuel Kant. The criticism on the other hand emphasizes the relational aspect of a human being and argues that, even if a fetus itself is not a ‘person', he/she is for some others, such as his/her parents, a human being which must be morally protected. 1 point out that the ‘relational aspect' of a human being is not supposed to consist in that being itself, but only in the concrete concern that others have to that being, because what the being itself is does not matter there. As a result, the anti-personal theory seems only to accept the case where a human being has nobody to have a concrete relation to him/her or the case where a human being is not treated as such by others. I hint at a more' fundamental problem that there is no other way to talk about a human being itself than as a self-conscious agent.