Erica Stonestreet is an associate professor of philosophy at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University.
Hilde Lindemann's baby sister, Carla, was born with hydrocephaly — a condition in which fluid around the brain impairs mental function. It was untreatable, and Carla died before she was two years old.
In Lindemann’s new book, Holding and Letting Go: The Social Practice of Personal Identity, she observes that despite Carla’s helplessness the family treated her as a full member of the family, a person. This raises a number of intriguing questions about the nature of personhood, a status usually reserved for fully functioning adults.
Personhood is a moral concept,
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