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


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.

(See this event also on Facebook)

Video Recording