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Person, philosophy: A thinking and sentient being that distinguishes itself from others. In the course of the history of philosophy, further determinations have been agreed on or disregarded, e.g. rationality, autonomy, not-being-able-to-be-possessed. While the human and his body age, the person has no temporal stages. See also individual, law, continuants, identity.

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Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

 
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Alan Gewirth on Person - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 110
Rights/Gewirth/Gaus: Gewirth’s argument, like Benn’s, starts from a broad conception of agency and holds that, given this conception, individuals are committed to claiming for themselves, and honouring the claims of others to, basic rights to freedom and wellbeing. >Actions/Benn.
Benn and Gewirth thus share the common project of deriving basic liberal rights from the very idea of moral agency.
GewirthVsBenn: Gewirth’s aim, though, is more radical: he argues that the nature of rational agency impels one to make a certain prudential claim, which gives rise to moral claims on others, which reason requires that one generalize. Moral agency is entailed by rationality. (For a general criticism of this type of argument, see Williams, 1985(2): 55–64.) In contrast, Benn distinguishes rational agency from moral agency. It is possible, he argues, to be a purely ‘natural person’ who makes no moral claims: psychopaths, he suggests, may possess rational natural personality – rational agents devoted to securing their goals – but be devoid of moral personality (1988(3): 101–2). Moral persons are those who see others and themselves in terms of moral relations: it is how we do in fact see ourselves, and it is moral persons who would recognize the basic right of non-interference.


1. Gewirth, Alan (1981) Reason and Morality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2. Williams, Bernard (1985) Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. London: Fontana/Collins.
3. Benn, Stanley I. (1988) A Theory of Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „The Diversity of Comprehensive Liberalisms.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gewirth, Alan
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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