Who Counts as Persons? Human Identity and the Ethics of Killing

Who Counts as Persons? Human Identity and the Ethics of Killing

Who Counts as Persons? Human Identity and the Ethics of Killing

Who Counts as Persons? Human Identity and the Ethics of Killing


The author of this book affirms that it is never moral to intentionally kill another. He offers a philosophy of a person that embraces the undeveloped, the wounded and the dying, proposing ways to recover a personal ethical stance in a global society that increasingly devalues the individual.


An early draft of this work began with the words, “This book begins in Zimbabwe.” the words are no longer in the present text because so much time has passed. Yet I still owe to my African students there the confirmed belief that philosophical encounters with life and death are crucial to our world and our common humanity. They had no texts, almost no personal books. They did, however, have a desire to investigate just what makes us human persons—and they were willing to pursue the ethical implications, even if they required a painful change of mind.

Since those years in the 1980s, I have made many more formal presentations of the labors presented herein. I have received, as well, ample assistance and challenge in offering my ideas, although I am sure I cannot remember everyone who gave me assistance and warning over the years.

I presented general notions of the assault on personhood and the theory of endowed personal nature at Marquette University's Center for Ethics Studies, the Center published “Recovery of Personhood: An Ethics After Post-Modernism” as a monograph in 1995. I presented an early formulation of my theory of value at Notre Dame University at a conference that was published as The Challenge of Global Stewardship. My contribution—”Intrinsic Value, Persons, and Stewardship”—finds echoes in part of Chapter 5 of this book. in reviews that I have written—usually on books that treated consciousness, human nature, and ethics—for the Modern Schoolman, as well as observations in America magazine's “Ethics Notebook,” I have developed ideas that appear herein, even to the extent of some shared central terminology.

In presentations to medical students and the philosophy department of Creighton University, in a year as McKeever Chair at Saint John's University and faculty member at Saint John's chap program for hospital administrators; in presentations at Milltown Park in Dublin, Ireland, and to the Jesuits of South Africa; and during a wonderful tenure as . . .

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