Terminal Logic

Everyone Is a Person—No One Is “Mere Biological Life”

by Robert P. George

There is a spectrum of positions on end-of-life issues, and on life issues generally, but a crucial line divides those who affirm and those who deny that the life of each human being possesses inherent and equal worth and dignity, irrespective not only of race, ethnicity, age, and sex (as everyone agrees), but stage of development, mental or physical infirmity, and condition of dependency.

People who deny this frequently distinguish what they describe as “mere biological human life” from the life of a “person.” A person possesses self-consciousness and, perhaps, developed capacities for characteristically human mental activity, such as conceptual thinking, deliberation, and choice. It is personal life, they say, that has intrinsic value . . .

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Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University (web.princeton.edu/sites/jmadison). His books include In Defense of Natural Law (Oxford University Press) and Conscience and Its Enemies (ISI Books). He has served as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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