Date of Graduation

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Philosophy

Advisor

Richard N. Lee

Committee Member

Warren A. Herold

Second Committee Member

Christopher W. Stevens

Keywords

bioethics, personal identity, personhood, value

Abstract

I develop a theory of personal ontology called normative pragmatic selfhood (NPS) to explain what persons are and how they are morally valuable. I also demonstrate the applicability of NPS theory by using it to assess the moral status of marginal cases in bioethical dilemmas. I begin by discussing the concept of intrinsic value and why it is problematic when it comes to persons. I then draw upon John Dewey’s theory of value, specifically the concept of growth, and Kant’s concept of humanity to show that persons are objectively yet extrinsically valuable. Next, I discuss and argue how the psychological and narrative theories of identity are unable to justify the value of persons and how NPS theory succeeds in doing so. I conclude by showing how the application of NPS theory to marginal cases offers one way of thinking through these difficult bioethical issues.

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