MBBS Curriculum 2020

Were you a part of your mother? The Metaphysics of Pregnancy

13 October 2016 - 16:30-18:00

LectureElselijn Kingma, Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton
Comment: Dr. Shree Datta, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist, King’s College Hospital

New Hunt’s House, G.12, Guy’s Campus

Abstract:

What is the metaphysical relationship between the gestating organism and its embryo/fetus? I compare two views: (1) the fetal container model: the fetus is not part of but merely contained within or surrounded by the gestating organism; (2) the part-whole model: the fetus is part of its gestator. The fetal container model appears to be the received view. It is widely assumed but, I argue, without good argument; this model needs substantial support if it is to be taken seriously. The part-whole model is not presently defended, but I argue that it derives considerable support from a range of biological and physiological considerations. I conclude that the part-whole model has the upper hand and that, if true, this has important consequences for the metaphysics of persons and organisms and, perhaps, ethics and law.

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