The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Research project: Better Understanding the Metaphysics of Pregnancy (BUMP): Organisms, Identity, Personhood and Persistence

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Pregnancy presents us with fascinating philosophical problems: what, during the pregnancy, is the nature of the relationship between the foetus and the maternal organism? What is the relationship between the pregnant organism and the later baby? And when does one person or organism become two? A 1.2 million Euro research grant from the ERC allows Elselijn Kingma and her research team to address these and other questions in a 5 year research project starting in spring 2016.

Project Overview

Every single human is the product of a pregnancy: an approximately nine-month period during which a foetus develops within its mother’s body. Yet pregnancy has not been a traditional focus in philosophy. That is remarkable, for two reasons:

First, because pregnancy presents fascinating philosophical problems: what, during the pregnancy, is the nature of the relationship between the foetus and the maternal organism? What is the relationship between the pregnant organism and the later baby? And when does one person or organism become two?

Second, because so many topics immediately adjacent to or involved in pregnancy have taken centre stage in philosophical enquiry. Examples include questions about personhood, foetuses, personal identity and the self.

This project launches the metaphysics of pregnancy as an important and fundamental area of philosophical research.

The core aims of the project are:

1. To develop a philosophically sophisticated account of human pregnancy and birth, and the entities involved in this, that is attentive to our best empirical understanding of human reproductive biology;

2. To articulate the metaphysics of organisms, persons and selves in a way that acknowledges the details of how we come into existence; and

3. To start the process of rewriting the legal, social and moral language we use to classify ourselves and our actions, so that it is compatible with and can accommodate the nature of pregnancy.

BUMP is part of a series of projects on Philosophy of Pregnancy and Early Motherhood, run by Elselijn Kingma and Fiona Woollard.

 

 

 

 

 

Project Members

Elselijn Kingma

Suki Finn

In the Media

In December 2014, Elselijn Kingma gave a radio interview on the metaphysics of pregnancy. Click here to listen to the Radio Interview and click here to read Radio National's write up of it.

Events

Conferences and events associated with this project:

Staff

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