Re the letter of Robert Prinzen-Wood (March AD2000), who raises the latter-day problem of claimed personhood, a privilege to be accorded only to those human beings who possess a variety of asserted attributes. This claim rests on nothing more secure or objectively provable than repeated assertion by those who want change, though even they cannot agree among themselves on what those criteria are.
The traditional view is that a person is a man, woman or child of the human race. The worth of the doctrine of personhood is evident when it is realised that only those who satisfy the criteria need be accorded the basic human rights currently available to all. No new benefits accrue to anyone, but for those selected as non-persons, some of the rights they presently enjoy are lost, the most important of which is the right to the integrity of their life. The doctrine allows the taking of the lives of those who are unwanted for other reasons, without their consent.
It is an intellectual scam to give an appearance of respectability to what is in fact a brutal attack on some of the most vulnerable members of society. It says much about the lack of depth in some current philosophical streams that such an inhuman doctrine has gained credibility.
BRIAN POLLARD (DR)