Who Gets a Place in Person-Space?

Philosophical Papers 47 (2):183-198 (2018)
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We notice a number of interesting overlaps between the views on personhood of Ifeanyi Menkiti and Marya Schechtman. Both philosophers distance their views from the individualistic ones standard in western thought and foreground the importance of extrinsic or relational features to personhood. For Menkiti, it is ‘the community which defines the person as person’; for Schechtman, being a person is to have a place in person-space, which involves being seen as a person by others. But there are also striking differences. Schechtman sees this aspect as expanding the scope of personhood to infants and those who are severely mentally disabled. Menkiti thinks that there is a line to be drawn at some point between those humans that are persons and those who are not. We consider the cases offered in questioning how the dispute between the two views should be resolved.

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Simon Beck
University of the Western Cape


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