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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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The Constitutive Journey Toward Individual Personhood

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1. The human being as a rational agent

Among the various self-conceptions elaborated by the so-called occidental man, the one with Aristotelian origins has surely been the most persistent. Even if not always explicitly labeled Aristotelian, many of its features are still widespread in the contemporaneity.

As with any philosophical thesis, the Aristotelian has been subject to various sorts of criticism and interpretation. What we claim here is only that, in its core elements, it is still influential in the present days, guiding and being used as a reference for other conceptions elaborated by the man about himself, even in law. However, if, on the one hand, these elements reflect a pragmatic dimension that is present in the conception of personhood we take to be the most appropriate; on the other hand, we do not subscribe to certain forms of recourse to Aristotle that can still be found in contemporary literature, committed to his metaphysics or with an instrumental use of his thought for different purposes.

Either way, it seems to be beyond dispute that the Aristotelian conception about the human and its subsequent Latin uptake have forged the vocabulary related to the issue, whose meanings were constituted and delimitated in the perspective of the sociopolitical and cultural realities, respectively, of ancient Greece and Rome. The same holds true for the integrative process of assimilation and appropriation of that conception from the Hebraic-Christian theological and anthropological standpoints. Although not very usual in...

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