Why we should save the anthropocentric person
in From reason to practice in bioethics
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This essay begins by acknowledging the fresh and provocative contribution made to bioethics by John Harris’s book The Value of Life but it goes on to take a more critical look at Harris’s concept of the ‘person’. Harris’s ‘person’ is a technical abstraction, relied upon to do much of the moral work, both within the book and in later writing, though the concept has, since its first introduction, remained underdeveloped and poorly theorized. It is argued here that Harris’s ‘person’ is both anti-human and anti-humane leaving too many points of irritation in its application to the moral domain of bioethics. This chapter explores some of the limitations of Harris’s ‘person’ approach with examples drawn from ethical issues at the start of life and it offers an alternative account which argues to retain the anthropocentric, human and humane, account of the person.

From reason to practice in bioethics

An anthology dedicated to the works of John Harris

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