Making a Person


Makinga Person

Accordingto Strawson, people constitute the particulars to which consciousnesscan be ascribed. Therefore, in his ontology of particulars, materialsand individuals share equal status. People tend to possess afundamental and irreducible being. Individuals are usually creditedwith physical characteristics, attitude, designating location, andrelatively enduring characteristics such as shape, weight, coloringon one hand and different states of consciousness such asremembering, thinking, deciding, and seeing on the other. Thus, inmaking a person, Frank would need to create physical characteristicsas well as states of consciousness based on the account of Strawsonof personhood. From the Strawson’s account of personhood, there aremany entities apart from humans that have both physical and mentalproperties. Hence, when this account is used, there is likely to beconfusion between a person and other animals since other animals alsotend to have the physical and mental properties that cannotdistinguish them from persons. With this notion, it would beexceedingly difficult to differentiate a normal human from othercreatures given just the two characteristics that define humans. Sucha person would be similar to the normal human since he/she wouldshare these two properties. Nevertheless, the person may differ froma normal human because he/she may not be distinguished using othercharacteristics.

Basedon the biological account, the criteria for being a person do notserve chiefly to distinguish the members of the human species fromthe members of other species. The biological account is of theopinion that people belong to a given species, which can bedistinguished through some biological attributes. People aredesignated to capture attributes that are the subject of individuals’most humane concern with themselves and the source of what theyregard as most significant and most problematical in their lives. Theattributes would be of equal significance to humans even if they arenot strange and common to the members of the human species. Whatinterests individuals most in the human condition would not interestthem less if it were also a trait of the condition of other creaturesas well. Therefore, from the biological perspective, it is possiblefor humans to share attributes with other creatures that belong tonon-human species. However, it can be assumed that no member ofanother species is a person. Biologically, there is a set ofcharacteristics that can be uniquely associated with humans. Based onthe biological account, such a person is likely to be just like thenormal humans because he/she would have unique characteristics thatwould help in distinguishing him/her from the other creatures.However, such a person may be different from the normal humansbecause what interests the person most in the human condition wouldnot interest him/her less if it were also a trait of the condition ofother creatures as well.

Onthe account of Frankfurt, there is one important difference between aperson and other creatures and is found in the structure of aperson’s will. Human beings are considered not to have desires andmotives alone, but they share these things with members of otherspecies. The difference between a person and other creatures is thata person can form “second-order desires.” In their preferencesand desires, they tend to be different. Therefore, based on thisaccount, Frank would consider making a person that has second-orderdesires. Such a person is likely to resemble a normal human sincehe/she will have the desire to be different from other creatures.Alternatively, such a person may be different from the normal humansin the manner that he/she thinks due to the structure of his/herwill.