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Persons are rational beings

 In the course, we’ve looked at many different “concepts of the person”, i.e. ways of defining what it means to be a person / human being. For this paper, I’d like you to reflect on the following question:  “Which concept of the person is best for humanity?” This is a very open-ended question. If you’d like more structure, you can compare and contrast your view with the following ideas from the course:

  1. Aristotle: Persons are rational animals (i.e. they use their awareness and capacity for reflection to shape their own behavior and habits).
  2. Kant: Persons are rational beings that should strive to have good will (i.e. they are capable of acting not just on their desires but on their conception of what is good)
  3. Descartes:  Persons are primarily minds / “thinking beings”, distinct from bodies
  4. Searle:  Being a person / having mind / consciousness is more than just functioning intelligently
  5. Locke:  A person is essentially a stream of consciousness, responsible only for what he/she is conscious of
  6. Nagel:  Being morally responsible requires free will, and free will is a difficult concept to pin down
  7. Buddha:  Persons are a convenient fiction. Really, the best course is to rid yourself of the illusion that you have a “self”.  In the course, we’ve looked at many different “concepts of the person”, i.e. ways of defining what it means to be a person / human being. For this paper, I’d like you to reflect on the following question:  “Which concept of the person is best for humanity?” This is a very open-ended question. If you’d like more structure, you can compare and contrast your view with the following ideas from the course:
    1. Aristotle: Persons are rational animals (i.e. they use their awareness and capacity for reflection to shape their own behavior and habits).
    2. Kant: Persons are rational beings that should strive to have good will (i.e. they are capable of acting not just on their desires but on their conception of what is good)
    3. Descartes:  Persons are primarily minds / “thinking beings”, distinct from bodies
    4. Searle:  Being a person / having mind / consciousness is more than just functioning intelligently
    5. Locke:  A person is essentially a stream of consciousness, responsible only for what he/she is conscious of
    6. Nagel:  Being morally responsible requires free will, and free will is a difficult concept to pin down
    7. Buddha:  Persons are a convenient fiction. Really, the best course is to rid yourself of the illusion that you have a “self”.
 

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