The Religion & Culture Web Forum

March 2006

Trading Faces: A Case Study in the Science of Identity, Aesthetics, Ethics

This month’s Web Forum is adapted from a roundtable discussion that took place at the Divinity School on February 17, 2006. The discussion was made possible through the Weissbourd Fund for the Society of Fellows in Liberal Arts, and was organized and moderated by Geoffrey Rees. In the three essays presented here, an ethicist, a historian of science, and a philosopher address the ethical issues at stake in the transplantation of human tissue, and of faces in particular. As Rees posed the basic question to the discussants: how much of one's body is replaceable, renewable, or expendable before one ceases to be one's “self?” What are the potential implications for conceptions of personal identity and social responsibility? Moreover, how do we even determine which are the relevant questions to ask?

The essays are:

Formal responses by Jeremy Biles and Geoffrey Rees may be found in the archived discussion board for this Forum (pdf).