The Human Person
As it stands, assumptions about the radical autonomy of all individuals are well established and virtually unquestioned. They pervade everything from constitutional law to consumerism, from popular therapy to art. The picture of the human person as utterly independent, self-creating, and unencumbered by social ties or moral obligations dominates our discourses, mores, and imagination. It is also fundamentally flawed.
New challenges are arising that portend further radical changes in our understanding of human life and the human person. Perhaps the most obvious of these challenges comes from novel developments in technology. In biotechnology, for example, scientists are moving genes across species boundaries and promising profound transformations in the human experience of frailty, aging, reproduction, and disease. Linked to the power of the market and a pervasive market culture, biotechnological change is raising troubling questions about the nature of life, the meaning of our bodies to our self-understanding, and what is unique to the human person. What is clear is that technological innovation in these areas has far outpaced our ability to limit, direct, or control them.