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Welcome to Philosophy of the Human Person 2




TEACHER:  Dr Ailish McKeown (


This second subject on the philosophy of the human person examines some aspects of the human person and human behaviour, starting from the notion of personhood and the characteristics of human persons. Central to this is the notion of the corporeo-spiritual nature of human beings, and their possession of a spiritual soul, by which a person is oriented towards God and open to other persons. We will look at some questions around freedom and personal identity (including sexual identity), and human relationships that come from our capacity, as free beings, for love, self-transcendence, and self-giving. We will look at some specifically human activities including culture, work, leisure.


By the end of this course you should be able to:

  1. Explain the concept of personhood and its relevance for bioethics and human dignity
  2. Explain the concepts of sex and gender and their relationship
  3. Understand the social nature of human beings and their interdependence
  4. Distinguish between cultural relativism and cultural sensitivity
  5. Appreciate the subjective and objective values of work


50% Critical Analysis and Evaluation of A. Giublini and F. Minerva, “After-Birth Abortion: Why Should The Baby Live?”, Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (2013): 261-263.  VIEW  (Approx.1,500 words)


A 1,500 word paper or video presentation/short film on a topic to be agreed

50% Open Book Exam

Both due by the last day of the course.

Program & Readings

The Program is available here.  VIEW

The Course Notes are available here.  VIEW

Readings and resources for each topic are available below.

Introductory Reading: Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, nn. 12-22. VIEW

Further Reading

B. Sullivan, An Introduction to Philosophy, TAN, 1957.

J. A Lombo and F. Russo, Philosophical Anthropology: An Introduction, MTF, 2012.



The slides are available here.  VIEW


The Human Person


Course Notes, Chapter 1

William May, What is a Person and Who Counts As a Human Person? A Crucial Question For Bioethics, (2014)  VIEW

Further Readings

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions, 20.6.2008, nn. 4-10.  VIEW


CST 101: Life and Dignity of the Human Person  VIEW

Psychosomatic Unity of the Human Person


Course Notes, Chapter 2

Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 282-285  VIEW

Further Readings

E. Sri, Men, Women and The Mystery of Love: Practical Insights From John Paul II’s ‘Love and Responsibility’, Servant, Cincinnati, 2007, pp. 41-51.

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia on Gender, Pope Francis, 19.3.16, n. 56.  VIEW

Slides on Gender  VIEW


Dependence & Finitude

Life Is Worth Living, Even With Cancer  VIEW

The Power of Vulnerability  VIEW

A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success  VIEW

Sex & Gender

College Kids Say The Darndest Things: On Identity  VIEW

A Tale of Two Brains  VIEW

It’s Not About the Nail  VIEW


The Social Nature of Human Beings


Course Notes, Chapter 3

J. Boudreau, Ubuntu: ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’, 2.12.2002  VIEW

Promoting Human Flourishing: Principles and Major Themes of Catholic Social Teaching  VIEW


Who We Are: Human Uniqueness and the African Spirit of Ubuntu  VIEW

Ubuntu: I Am Who I Am Because of Who We All Are  VIEW

CST 101: Call to Family, Community and Participation  VIEW


Culture & Human Activity


Course Notes, Chapter 4

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Oceania, nn. 

Further Readings

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia on Love in the Family, Pope Francis, 19.3.16. nn. 191-193.  VIEW


Cultural Differences: Eel Soup  VIEW

Work, Technology & Leisure


Course Notes, Chapter 5

John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 14.9.1981, nn. 5-6.

Further Readings

F.J. Lopez Diaz, C. Ruiz Mntoya, Work and Rest, 16.7.2009. VIEW

J. Pieper, Josef Pieper: An Anthology, on Leisure and its Threefold Opposition, Earthly Contemplation, and What is a Feast? pp. 137-157. 

Maria Pia Chirinos, Body and Work: An Anthropological Approach to the Human Being  VIEW

Humans & History


J. A Lombo and F. Russo, Philosophical Anthropology: An Introduction, MTF, 2012, pp. 237-249.