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The Right to Life and Conflicting Interests$
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Elizabeth Wicks

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199547395

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547395.001.0001

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An Introduction to the Meaning of Life

An Introduction to the Meaning of Life

(p.1) 1 An Introduction to the Meaning of Life
The Right to Life and Conflicting Interests

Elizabeth Wicks

Oxford University Press

The first chapter serves as an introduction to the concept of life by identifying the boundaries of life and investigating the issue of why human life should be singled out for special treatment. It is argued that the key factor in the special legal and ethical protection accorded to human life is the high level of consciousness the species enjoys compared to most other species. However, it is also argued that, once it is accepted that human life in general deserves such protection, it should also be accepted that each and every human life deserves it, regardless of whether an individual enjoys full, limited, or no consciousness. Instead of consciousness, the key requirement for an individual to qualify for the special legal and ethical protection given to human life is integrative function of a human organism which exists from viability to brain death.

Keywords:   beginning of life, definition of death, human consciousness, value of life

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