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Philosophia Christi

Volume 10, Issue 1, 2008

Richard Langer
Pages 101-118

Humans, Commodities, and Humans-in-a-sense

Biotechnology is blurring the metaphysical boundaries between humanity and commodity and many fear the moral consequences. Though the blurring is substantial, this article argues that there is still a long distance between humanity and commodity. Furthermore, the language of commoditization may blind us to certain more immediate moral concerns. When Aristotle discovered naturally occurring hybrids that blurred the boundaries of living substances, he coined the phrase “substances-in-a-sense.” The analogous phrase, “humans-in-a-sense,” might sensitize us to aspects of moral discourse that the language of commoditization tends to obscure and might also alert us to dangers that are already at hand.