Who Count as Persons?
Human Identity and the Ethics of Killing
Today in every corner of the world men and women are willing to kill others in the name of "realism" and under the guise of race, class, quality of life, sex, property, nationalism, security, or religion. We justify these killings by either excluding certain humans from our definition of personhood or by invoking a greater good or more pressing value.
Kavanaugh contends that neither alternative is acceptable. He formulates an ethics that opposes the intentional killing not only of medically "marginal" humans but also of depersonalized or criminalized enemies. Offering a philosophy of the person that embraces the undeveloped, the wounded, and the dying, he proposes ways to recover a personal ethical stance in a global society that increasingly devalues the individual.
Kavanaugh discusses the work of a range of philosophers, artists, and activists from Richard Rorty and Søren Kierkegaard to Albert Camus and Woody Allen, from Mother Teresa to Jack Kevorkian. His approach is in stark contrast to that of writer Peter Singer and others who believe that not all human life has intrinsic moral worth. It will challenge philosophers, students of ethics, and anyone concerned about the depersonalization of contemporary life.
About the Author
"This book offers a powerful, challenging view of the human person for the modern world as a basis for ethical decision making, especially on life-and-death issues.... We have much to learn from Father John Kavanaugh. He is insightful and learned, and his passionate concern for the dignity of human beings flows from every page."—National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly
"[Offers] a compelling critique of contemporary society."—Theological Studies
"A richly insightful and provocative exploration of the diverse ideologies invented to justify degrading or taking human life."—Choice
"All college and seminary libraries need this prophetic book in their collections."—Ethics
"Fr. Kavanaugh remembers what too many philosophers forget—that philosophy begins with the human person....His book is challenging, moving, and provocative."—Jean Bethke Elshtain, University of Chicago
"John Kavanaugh has taken on an old and ancient and difficult issue and he brings to it verve, breadth, and an uncommon thoughtfulness. This is a valuable book, one that needs to be read by anyone concerned with the future of ethics."—Daniel Callahan, The Hastings Center
"A thoughtful, passionate, and contemporary defense of the human person."—Charles J. Dougherty, Creighton University, Creighton University
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