Who/se we are: baptism as personhood.
The attempt to arrive at some consensus on precisely what qualifies a human as a persons represents one of the more persistently debated and widely significant issues in modern biomedical ethics. The attribution of personhood has been and continues to be a powerful tool in moral discourse. Biomedical and bioethical debates about personhood seem especially morally significant in late modernity given the recent trends in biomedical technology. Our attempts to formally articulate universally agreed upon criteria for personhood represent some of the last vestiges of the hope that we can achieve substantial moral agreement in an otherwise morally fragmented world. In this essay, we argue that, from the perspective of certain strands of the Christian tradition, all bioethics grounded in attempts to develop formal, objective criteria by which we may designate a given individual a person are misguided. Criteria centering on the possession of reflective mental capacity, moreover, are for Christians especially problematic. We suggest that there are no morally neutral ways of designating personhood.
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