Stages of life: A new metaphysics of conceptionism

Bioethics 33 (4):529-535 (2019)
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Abstract

When a human being comes into existence is crucial in bioethics. Conceptionism is the view that a human being comes into existence at conception. The twinning argument is an influential objection to this view. All versions of the twinning argument rely on a metaphysics of material objects, namely, endurantism. Given this, a strategy for defending conceptionism against the twinning argument is to deny endurantism and adopt an alternative metaphysics of material objects. A version of this strategy which has been debated in this journal is to adopt perdurantism, or the ‘multiple occupancy view’, on which monozygotic twins share the zygote region as a temporal part. We present a novel version of this strategy: conceptionists can evade the twinning argument by adopting an exdurantist metaphysics of material objects. We suggest reasons for thinking that this is a plausible and, indeed, preferable way for conceptionists to avoid the twinning argument.

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Author Profiles

David Efird
PhD: Oxford University; Last affiliation: University of York
Stephen Holland
University of York

References found in this work

Material Beings.Peter van Inwagen - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (3):701-708.
Could a zygote be a human being?John Burgess - 2008 - Bioethics 24 (2):61-70.

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