Lady Parts: The Metaphysics of Pregnancy

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 82:165-187 (2018)
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What is the metaphysical relationship between the fetus/embryo and the pregnant organism? In this paper I apply a substance metaphysics view developed by Barry Smith and Berit Brogaard to argue, on the basis of topological connectedness, that fetuses/embryos are Lady-Parts: part of the maternal organism up until birth. This leaves two options. Either mammalian organisms begin at birth, or we revise our conception of organisms such that mammalian organisms can be part of other mammals. The first option has some advantages: it is numerically neat; aligns with an intuitive picture of organisms as physically distinct individuals; and ties ‘coming into existence’ to a suitably recognisable and important event: birth. But it denies that the fetus survives birth, or that human organisms existed prior to their birth. The second option allows us to recognise that human organisms exist prior to and survive their birth, but at a cost: it leaves the question of when an organism comes into existence unanswered, and demands potentially far-reaching conceptual revision across a range of domains.



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Elselijn Kingma
Cambridge University (PhD)

Citations of this work

Were You a Part of Your Mother?Elselijn Kingma - 2019 - Mind 128 (511):609-646.
Nine Months.Elselijn Kingma - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (3):371-386.
How Many Organisms during a Pregnancy?Jonathan Grose - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (5):1049-1060.

View all 21 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

What are we?Eric T. Olson - 2007 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (5-6):37-55.
Fiat and Bona Fide Boundaries.Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (2):401-420.
Sixteen days.Barry Smith & Berit Brogaard - 2003 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 28 (1):45 – 78.
The niche.Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi - 1999 - Noûs 33 (2):214-238.
Sameness and Substance.Helen Morris Cartwright & David Wiggins - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):597.

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