The Concept of Person

  • Alan J. KearnsEmail author


This chapter provides an overview of the concept of person and its significance for moral decision-making. The concept of person can be employed in discussions about difficult ethical issues, particularly those that arise at the beginning and end of life. Although philosophical reflections vary, self-consciousness, rationality and moral agency tend to be the main characteristics that define a person in contemporary discourse. Working with an explicit concept of person may be helpful when examining some of the ethical issues in nursing practice and healthcare. However, some of the resulting implications of using a concept of person may be counter-intuitive to nursing’s duty to care, especially for those who are most vulnerable.


Human Being Person Potentiality Moral agency Rationality Self-consciousness Speciesism 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ethics, School of Theology, Philosophy, and MusicDublin City UniversityDublin 9Ireland

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