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New Approaches to the Personhood in Law

Essays in Legal Philosophy

Edited By Tomasz Pietrzykowski and Brunello Stancioli

The concept of personhood becomes increasingly controversial in modern legal debates. The advancements in the contemporary science and technology entail the need for reconsideration of who should count as a person in law and why. Animals, cyborgs, artificial agents and the like may pose the most important challenge for the legal orders in the 21 st century. The volume collects essays addressing various aspects of this challenge and provide an overview of what may become the most interesting and far-reaching dilemma for the law in the years to come.
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Dignity as Constraint and as Freedom: On the Meanings of Human Dignity for a Transhuman World


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Brunello Stancioli and Daniel Ribeiro

Dignity as Constraint and as Freedom: On the Meanings of Human Dignity for a Transhuman World

1. Introduction

Addressing the de-construction and re-construction of the legal concept of a “natural person” is an issue that presents several philosophical and theoretical challenges. Of those challenges, perhaps one of the most enduring is the dilemma confronting any attempt to remove natural personhood from its firm ground in humanity.

Indeed, humanity, the state of being human, is inexorably linked to the legal status of being a person: having the legal capacity to act and engage in legal transactions, and being entitled to rights and protections under the law. However, the law also recognizes non-human beings as legal persons. Currently, this recognition extends only to certain social entities and institutions, organized and created to attend to human goals. These social entities and institutions are regarded as discrete legal subjects that make human collective action more effective, make it easier to ascribe liability for such actions and, ultimately, legally account for human social gregariousness. Thus, even non-human persons, as they exist in our current legal landscapes, are undeniably human or, rather, are an expression of humanity.

This scenario prompts the question: could there genuinely be non-human persons? Or, is personhood inextricably tied to humanity?

First, why are these questions important? The firm linkage between humanity and personhood has been responsible for assuring a continuous...

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