Person or Not a Person?

Person or Not a Person?

An American Category Sketch of Personhood vs. Non-Personhood – not exhaustive, but representative.

  • So much is under debate.
  • So much is culturally modulated.
  • So much has a history of discussion rather than a solid truth claim.
  • So much seems a little strange.

Warning: Your answers may differ.
This is meant to be thought-provoking; sorry for all the things I’m leaving out.

Comments are welcome, but only if you’re civil. All comments are moderated.

For each of the following, is this a person?

Non-living:

  • Rock – NO!
  • Table – NO!
  • Book – NO!

Beings:

  • Flower – NO!
  • Tree – NO!
  • Monkeygrass – NO!
  • Frog – NO!
  • Beetle – NO!
  • Ant – NO!
  • Tilapia – NO!
  • Worm – NO!
  • Dog – NO! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Cat – NO! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Cow – NO! (DISAGREEMENT)

Scale/Boundary:

  • Electrons – NO!
  • Nuclei – NO!
  • Fungi – NO! (LIFE, MAYBE GROUP INTELLIGENCE OF A KIND, NOT PERSON)
  • Bacteria – NO! (LIFE, MAYBE GROUP INTELLIGENCE OF A KIND, NOT PERSON)
  • Virus – NO – um… probably not! (DEAD/ALIVE, IMMORTAL? SOME UNKNOWN)
  • Prions – NO! (DEAD/ALIVE, IMMORTAL? MUCH UNKNOWN)
  • Mitochondria – NO! (MAY HAVE DEVELOPED HUMANS, HISTORY OF DISCUSSION)
  • Planet – NO! (ECO-REACTIONS, SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Star – NO! (HISTORICAL SMALL DISAGREEMENTS)

Sex/Gender:

  • Female – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Male – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Hermaphrodite – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Transvestite – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Transgender – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Heterosexual – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Homosexual – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Bisexual – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Married – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Single – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Complicated – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)

Class/Money/Economy:

  • Poor – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Rich – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Middle-class – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Blue-collar – YES!
  • White-collar – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Upper-class – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Migrant – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Inner-city – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Rural – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Suburban – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Socialist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Communist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Crony Capitalist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Regulated Capitalist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT) (etc.)

Education:

  • Highly educated – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Highly trained – YES!
  • Untrained – YES!
  • College – YES!
  • No College – YES!
  • Under-educated – YES!
  • Literate – YES!
  • Sub-literate – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Intentionally ignorant – YES! (DISAGREEMENT) (etc.)

Political Values:

  • Democrat – YES! (CONFUSION AND DISAGREEMENT)
  • Libertarian – YES! (CONFUSION AND DISAGREEMENT)
  • Republican – YES! (CONFUSION AND DISAGREEMENT)
  • Independent – YES! (CONFUSION AND DISAGREEMENT)
  • Green – YES! (CONFUSION AND DISAGREEMENT)
  • Reconstructionist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Imperialist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Fascist – YES! (CONFUSION AND DISAGREEMENT)
  • Nazi – YES! (HEATED DISAGREEMENT)
  • Uninterested – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Fanatical – YES! (DISAGREEMENT) (etc.)

Nationality / Ethnicity / Race:

  • American – YES! (MINOR DISAGREEMENT)
  • Non-American – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Registered US Immigrant – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Non-registered US Immigrant – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • American Terrorist – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Non-American Terrorist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Same Ethnic/Racial Composition as Yourself – YES!
  • Different Ethic/Racial Composition from Yourself – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • German – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • French – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Kenyan – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • British – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Chinese – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Iraqi – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Afghani – YES! (SOME DISAGREEMENT)
  • Iranian – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)

Religion:

  • Christian – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Muslim – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Jehovah’s Witness – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Wiccan – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Buddhist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Fanatical – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Orthodox – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Evangelical – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Reformed – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Unitarian – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Atheist – YES! (DISAGREEMENT)
  • Eclectic – YES! (DISAGREEMENT) (etc.)

Corporate Groupings: (UNDER CONTESTATION!!!!!)

  • Homeland Security – NO!
  • CIA – NO!
  • Dept. of Eduction- NO!
  • NRA – NO!
  • ACLU – NO!
  • Catholic Church – NO!
  • US Marines – NO!
  • Al-Qaeda – NO!
  • Taliban – NO!
  • KKK – NO!
  • Halliburton – NO!
  • Chevron – NO!
  • Microsoft – NO!
  • Google – NO!
  • MacDonald’s- NO!
  • Citibank – NO!
  • Walmart – NO!

Stage / Distinctions:

  • Egg – NO!
  • Sperm- NO!
  • Fertilized egg – NO! (DISAGREEMENT – UNDER CONTESTATION!)*
  • Zygote – NO! (DISAGREEMENT- UNDER CONTESTATION!)
  • Fetus w/Beating Heart – ALIVE, BUT NOT PERSON! (DISAGREEMENT- UNDER CONTESTATION!)
  • Fetus w/Brain Waves – MAYBE! (DISAGREEMENT – UNDER CONTESTATION!)
  • Late-term Pregnancy – MAYBE! (HEATED DISAGREEMENT- UNDER CONTESTATION!)
  • Baby – COULD BE! (SOME DISAGREEMENT, HISTORICALLY NOT, BUT PROBABLY CONSIDERED ONE NOW)
  • Toddler – PROBABLY! (DISAGREEMENT – HISTORICALLY NOT, BUT PROBABLY CONSIDERED ONE NOW)
  • Child – PROBABLY! (DISAGREEMENT- HISTORICALLY NOT, BUT PROBABLY CONSIDERED ONE NOW)
  • Teenager – PROBABLY! (DISAGREEMENT – PAIN IN THE BUTT, AND SOME CONFUSION ABOUT RITE DE PASSAGE)
  • Adult – YES!
  • Middle-Aged – YES!
  • Elderly – YES! (DISAGREEMENT – HISTORICALLY SO, MAYBE STILL IS)
  • Corpse – PROBABLY NOT (SOME RELIGIOUS DISAGREEMENT)
  • Australopithecus – NO! (EXTINCT HOMINID! SOME DISCUSSION)
  • Neanderthals – NO! (EXTINCT HOMINID! SOME DISCUSSION)
  • Early Modern Human (EMH)/Anatomically Modern Human’ (AMH) (also referred to as Cro-Magnon) – UNKNOWN (DISCUSSION and DISAGREEMENT)
  • Homo Sapien Sapien – YES! (MINOR DISCUSSION, MOSTLY BY CURMUDGEONS)

* Fertilized chicken egg does not equal chicken either.

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