This morning, a Facebook-friend (more than a FB-friend, but a good old friend I have not seen in quite a while — Cheers, Johannes!) asked me a question:
Can you help me with this question? A question to the scientists and philosophers out there: some argue that the moment brainwaves start during fetal development is the moment it is a human being. Response?
I decided to make my response my Biltrix post for today.
Some would say it depends on how you define a person. I would say it depends on what a person is: we define a thing according to what it is.
A person, is more than flesh and bones, brainwaves, and the ability to construct grammatical propositions. A human person is not just a collections of properties, but the individual who has those properties in virtue of its nature. That is to say, a person is a person whether he (or she) exercises his (or her) rational faculty at every moment of his (enough of the gender-pronoun stuff, already…) existence.
I am forgoing adding counter-examples as objections, only to refute them, since people can comment here with their objections if they want.
At the moment of his conceptions, in ordinary, healthy circumstances, a human embryo will naturally develop physically in such a way that he will eventually perform the operations proper to his nature. There are no brainwaves at the moment of conceptions, because… there is no brain. But just because there are no brainwaves, it does not follow that there is no person. God has no brainwaves, St Michael the Archangels has no brainwaves, and they are persons.
The human person is the type of thing which has the natural power to reason. Although in many cases there are impediments to rational thought, those impediments do not impede the person from being a person. Rather, they impede the person from exercising his natural operation. This does not mean that the person does not have the faculty; it only means that he cannot exercise it.
- A human being is a person (naturally);
- Once a human zygote is conceived, it is a human being (genetically);
- So, once a human zygote is conceived, it is a human person.