"The Obsolescence of Human Beings" and the Non-Obsolescence of Law's Natural Persons: Transformations of Legal Personhood Through the Lens of "Promethean Shame"

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Philosopher Günther Anders’ thoughts on the interaction between human beings and technological artifacts have proven to be remarkably applicable to current technological developments. The main thesis of this chapter is that Anders’ philosophical anthropology and his concept of “the obsolescence of human beings” are also highly relevant for current debates about legal personhood. Throughout its history, the legal concept of the person has gone through several waves of naturalization and artificialization. At the moment, the legal person is experiencing a wave of artificialization in response to technological developments. A certain tendency can be detected to artificialize the legal concept of the natural person, that is, to “liberate the legal person” from its naturalistic confines and humanistic premises. As a consequence, the gap between homo and persona, between flesh-and-blood human beings and legal persons, is widening. This raises the question as to whether the legal category of the natural person has had its best time and is even becoming obsolete. I use Anders’ essay On Promethean Shame as a lens to critically examine the current transformation of the legal concept of the natural person. I argue that the legal notion of the natural person is indispensable for the regulation of new technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersonhood in the Age of Biolegality
Subtitle of host publicationBrave New Law
EditorsMarc de Leeuw, Sonja van Wichelen
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherPalgrave / MacMillan
Chapter11
Pages187-204
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030278489
ISBN (Print)9783030278472
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Publication series

NameBiolegalities (BIOGA)
PublisherPalgrave/Macmillan

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