Persons: The Difference Between 'Someone' and 'Something'

ISBN : 9780198808480

Robert Spaemann; Oliver O'Donovan
272 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jun 2017
Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics
Send mail

An examination and defence of the concept of personality, long central to Western moral culture but now increasingly under attack, by a leading European philosopher. Persons takes issue with major contemporary philosophers, especially in the English-speaking world (such as Parfit and Singer), who have contributed to the eclipse of the idea, and traces the debate back to the foundations of modern philosophy in Descartes and Locke. Robert Spaemann offers extended discussions of the sources of the idea in Christian theology and its development in Western philosophy. He also provides a number of pointed discussions of pressing practical questions-for example, our treatment of the severely disabled human and the moral status of intelligent non-human animals. The book covers a great deal of ground before coming to a focused conclusion: all human beings are persons.


1 Why we Speak of Persons
2 Why we call Persons `Persons'
3 How we Identify Persons
4 The Negative
5 Intentionality
6 Transcendence
7 Fiction
8 Religion
9 Time
10 Death and the Future Perfect Tense
11 Independence of Context
12 Subjects
13 Souls
14 Conscience
15 Recognition
16 Freedom
17 Promise and Forgiveness
18 Are All Human Beings Persons?

About the author: 

Robert Spaemann is Emeritus Professor at the University of Munich and Honorary Professor of the University of Salzburg. His research focuses on Christian ethics with particular attention to bioethics, ecology, and human rights.; Oliver O'Donovan is Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh. He is the Series Editor of the Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics series and a past President of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics. His publications include The Desire of the Nations (Cambridge University Press, 1996), Common Objects of Love (Eerdmans, 2002), and The Ways of Judgment (2005).

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.