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Stem Cell DialoguesA Philosophical and Scientific Inquiry Into Medical Frontiers$
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Sheldon Krimsky

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231167482

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231167482.001.0001

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Was My Birth Embryo Me?

Was My Birth Embryo Me?

(p.155) Dialogue 22 Was My Birth Embryo Me?
Stem Cell Dialogues

Sheldon Krimsky

Columbia University Press

In this dialogue, Dr. Rebecca Franklin is having a conversation with neuropsychologist Jacob Spencer and French philosopher-phenomenologist and metaphysician Antoinette Picard regarding the concept of human identity, when human identity emerges in development, and whether human identity encompasses the one-celled embryo from which a person develops. A number of philosophers have linked self-identity to our brain or mental states. John Locke believed in mind-body dualism—that two fundamentally distinct substances make up a person. Our identity, according to Locke, is linked to the human mind and the continuity of its memory states. Here Franklin, Spencer, and Picard discuss whether a person's self-identity and connection with his or her fetus of origin follow a biological or a psychological paradigm. They also consider how people view the embryo in the uterus through the continuity of DNA.

Keywords:   human identity, development, one-celled embryo, self-identity, John Locke, mind-body dualism, fetus, uterus, DNA

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