X-Message-Number: 16660
From: "John de Rivaz" <>
References: <9h35ql+>
Subject: Re: [CliffordPickover] Zygotic personhood
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2001 08:17:21 +0100

On the basis that soul= program and data, in any instance where some
programming and/or some data unique to that individual exist, then there is
a person.

If some parts of personality are provided  by the genes, then it is logical
to regard a fertilised egg as "a person" as parts of the unique program are
already there. Exterminating it is therefore murder. But it should be noted
that in nature many fertilised eggs are exterminated  without human
intervention, possibly because they would produce unsatisfactory results. In
religious terms, gods often require mankind to behave in a similar manner -
"do as I do" - "do likewise" and so on. So this doesn't really solve the
abortion dilemma.

Similarly at the other end if a person who has died is cryopreserved, then
the cryopreserved body contains some of the program and data that made the
person. If future technology can extract this, then the cryopreserved body
is still "a person" and deliberately thawing it is murder. In addition, it
is still murder to prevent a dead person from being cryopreserved, because
you are destroying the program and data.

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Sincerely, John de Rivaz:      http://www.deRivaz.com
my homepage links to Longevity Report, Fractal Report, music, Inventors'
report, an autobio and various other projects:
http://www.autopsychoice.com - http://www.cryonics-europe.org -

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: 23 June 2001 23:39
Subject: [CliffordPickover] Zygotic personhood

> In message 6, we mentioned the concept of "zygotic personhood."
> "Zygotic personhood" (the idea that a fertilized egg is a person)
> is a recent concept.  For example, before 1869, the Catholic church
> believed that the embryo was not a person until it was 40 days old.
> (Aristotle agreed with this 40-day threshold.)  Thus, the church did
> not believe a human had a soul until day 40.  Pope Innocent III in
> 1211 determined that the time of ensoulment was anywhere from 12 to
> 16 weeks.
> Are there any religions today that the set the time of personhood
> later than the zygote stage of development?   In 200 years from now,
> do any of you feel that the Catholic church will set a different
> standard for personhood?
> -- Cliff
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