Personales Leben und menschlicher Tod: Personale Identität als Prinzip der biomedizinischen Ethik, by Michael Quante [Book Review]

European Journal of Philosophy 15 (2):306–313 (2007)
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Issues of personal identity are relevant in biomedical ethics, but in what way? The mainclaim that structures Quante’s book is that the debates about bioethics and medical ethicshave not been sufficiently clear about the different meanings of ‘personal identity’. Hedistinguishes four questions: 1)conditions of personhood (what properties and capacitiesmust a thing have to be a person: consciousness? self-consciousness? consciousness of timeand one’s persistence in time? rationality? capacity to recognize others and communicate with them?), 2) the question of unity or synchronous identity(when can we speak aboutprecisely one person?), 3) the question of persistence or diachronous identity(when is a personat one point in time identical with a person at another point in time?) and 4) the question of personality or biographical identity(the existential conception of identity in the sense that people have identity crises). One can add to these a related question which Quanteaddresses while discussing the other questions: 5)what are we? (are we persons essentially,or are we rather human beings? is the sortal which defines our persistence conditions‘person’ or rather ‘human organism’ or maybe something else?).

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Arto Laitinen
Tampere University


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