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Sorting Out Aspects of Personhood:Capacities, Normativity and Recognition

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This paper examines how three central aspects of personhood -- the capacities of individuals, their normative status, and the social aspect of being recognized -- are related, and how personhood depends on them. The paper defends first of all a 'basic view' that while actual recognition is among the constitutive elements of full personhood, it is the individual capacities (and not full personhood) which ground the basic moral and normative demands concerning treatment of persons. Actual recognition depends analytically on such pre-existing normative requirements: it is a matter of responsiveness to them. The paper then discusses four challenges. The challenges claim that pace the basic view, the relevant capacities depend on recognition, that recognition seems to have normative relevance, and that the basic view cannot as such explain the equality either of persons, or of humans. Responding to these challenges amounts to refining the basic view accordingly.

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: 2007-01-01

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