Volume 13, Issue 1, 2011
Nancey Murphy on the Distinctiveness of Being Human
In this paper I examine Nancey Murphy’s claim that human persons are distinct on account of the degree to which they exercise functional capacities. I contend that these capacities, which Murphy says are important to God, not only constitute human distinctiveness but also constitute the intrinsic moral value of humans. As such, her position implies that because human moral value is had by virtue of functional capacities and, because such capacities admit of degrees, human moral value admits of degrees. I conclude by arguing that Murphy’s notion of human distinctiveness seriously undermines the idea that humans enjoy moral equality.