For other uses, see Person (disambiguation).
A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of property, or legal responsibility.
The defining features of personhood and consequently what makes a person count as a person differ widely among cultures and contexts.
In addition to the question of personhood, of what makes a being count as a person to begin with, there are further questions about personal identity and self: both about what makes any particular person that particular person instead of another, and about what makes a person at one time the same person as they were or will be at another time despite any intervening changes.
Main article: Personhood
Personhood is the status of being a person.
Personhood continues to be a topic of international debate, and has been questioned during the abolition of slavery and the fight for women's rights, in debates about abortion, fetal rights, and in animal rights advocacy.
Various debates have focused on questions about the personhood of different classes of entities.
Historically, the personhood of women, and slaves has been a catalyst of social upheaval.
In most societies today, postnatal humans are defined as persons.
However, some people believe that other groups should be included, depending on the theory, the category of "person" may be taken to include or not pre-natal humans or such non-human entities as animals, artificial intelligences, or extraterrestrial life.
Main article: Personal identity
Personal identity is the unique identity of persons through time.
That is to say, the necessary and sufficient conditions under which a person at one time and a person at another time can be said to be the same person, persisting through time.
In the modern philosophy of mind, this concept of personal identity is sometimes referred to as the problem of personal identity.
The problem is grounded in the question of what features or traits characterize a given person at one time.
A key question in continental philosophy is in what sense we can maintain the modern conception of identity, while realizing many of our prior assumptions about the world are incorrect.
Proposed solutions to the problem of personal identity include continuity of the physical body, continuity of an immaterial mind or soul, continuity of consciousness or memory, the bundle theory of self, continuity of personality after the death of the physical body, and proposals that there are actually no persons or selves who persist over time at all.
Development of the concept
The various masks represented the various "personae" in the stage play.
During the theological debates, some philosophical tools (concepts) were needed so that the debates could be held on common basis to all theological schools.
This concept was applied later to the Holy Ghost, the angels and to all human beings.
Since then, a number of important changes to the word's meaning and use have taken place, and attempts have been made to redefine the word with varying degrees of adoption and influence.
According to Noller, at least six approaches can be distinguished: "(1) The ontological definition of the person as “an individual substance of a rational nature” (Boethius).
(2) The self-consciousness-based definition of the person as a being that “can conceive itself as itself” (John Locke).
(3) The moral-philosophical definition of the person as “an end in itself” (Immanuel Kant).
In current analytical debate, the focus has shifted to the relationship between bodily organism and person.
The theory of animalism (Eric T. Olson) states that persons are essentially animals and that mental or psychological attributes play no role in their identity.
Constitution theory (Lynne Baker), on the other hand, attempts to define the person as a natural and at the same time self-conscious being: the bodily organism constitutes the person without being identical to it.
Rather, it forms with it a “unity without identity”.
[... Another idea] for conceiving the natural-rational unity of the person has emerged recently in the concept of the “person life” (Marya Schechtman)."
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person.