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Differing Conceptions of Personhood within the Psychology and Philosophy of Mary Whiton Calkins

Dana Noelle McDonald
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society
Vol. 43, No. 4 (Fall, 2007), pp. 753-768
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40321225
Page Count: 16
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Differing Conceptions of Personhood within the Psychology and Philosophy of Mary Whiton Calkins
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Abstract

This paper examines the ethical status of animals and nature within the thought of Mary Whiton Calkins. Though Calkins held that her self-psychology and absolute personalistic idealism were compatible in many ways, the two schools of thought offer different conceptions of personhood with respect to animals and nature. On the one hand, Calkinss self-psychology classified animals and nature as non-persons, due to the fact that self-psychology viewed animals and nature as physical entities bereft of the psychical qualities necessary for personhood. On the other hand, Calkinss absolute personalistic idealism classified animals and nature as persons, due to the absolute personalistic idealist understanding of the universe as ultimately mental and personal. Because Calkinss ethics requires the ethical individual to will for the benefit of all human beings, an ethics that adopts Calkinss psychological conception of personhood promotes an anthropocentrism that views animals and nature as possessing merely instrumental value, while an ethics that adopts Calkins's philosophical conception of personhood views animals and nature as possessing intrinsic value.

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