This is what I call “applied metaphysics,” that application of philosophy and theology to practical questions in life. For our purposes, we will deal with metaphysics proper: epistemology – how we know – and ontology – questions of what exists. Metaphysics matters issues must have concrete legal, educational, medical, or financial implications. Though the questions have been phrased historically in absolute terms, here they are pragmatic. Differences which cannot be practically noted do not apply. Special attention has been given to decisions that need to be made on a regular basis.
1) What is the essence of personhood?
a. Are there differentiae between a living individual Homo sapiens (LIHS)and a person?
i. Embryos are LIHS.
ii. Brain dead individuals are LIHS.
iii. Sperm and eggs are LIHS, albeit haploid.
iv. Placentae are LIHS.
b. Are persons a subset of LIHS?
i. Can non-humans be persons?
ii. What subset of LIHS count as persons?
c. Are citizens a subset of persons?
d. Is agency a function of an LIHS, or some additional entity?
e. Can groups of persons be said to exist in and of themselves, or only as groups of persons?
2) Is the continuity of a person dependent on the continuity of the correspondent LIHS?
a. Does ownership devolve to the body? The mind?
i. Can a brain-dead individual own property?
ii. Can a reincarnated individual own property?
3) Are all persons equal?
a. Obviously not with regard to particulars, but the extent to which they are and to which regard them so have profound implications.
b. Are all persons equal with regard to will, or are some more constrained in their choices?
c. Are all persons equal with regard to intelligence?
i. Do all persons learn equally, or are some quicker?
ii. Do some persons have a greater volume of memory?
iii. Do some persons process information more quickly?
iv. Do some persons have better access to the memory they possess?
v. Are some persons more creative?
d. If all persons are not equal, are there minimums which the law, medicine, and education may use in judging?
i. In law, is a person accountable for not having considered/imagined a course of action we think obvious?
ii. In medicine, is it acceptable for a doctor to prescribe treatment which restores a patient to “normal function” when they previously had abnormally high function?
iii. In education, to what extent are teachers responsible for extraordinary efforts to reach extraordinary students?
4) If groups of persons may be said to have independent existence, do they have continuity?
a. If a person is incapacitated, dead, or unavailable, do their rights and responsibilities devolve to their family?
i. Is there a right to inheritance?
ii. Can debts be inherited?
b. Is a corporation defined by its leadership, membership, or its purpose?
c. Do the rights and responsibilities of a corporation bear upon the leadership, the membership, or solely the abstract institution?
i. If leadership, do the rights and responsibilities follow a person who ceases to be a leader?
ii. If membership, do the rights and responsibilities follow a person who ceases to be a member?
iii. If solely the abstract institution, do the rights and responsibilities dissolve upon dissolution of the corporation?
iv. Can rights and responsibilities endure in a corporation after all original members are no longer present?
d. Is a state defined by its leadership, membership, or its purpose?
e. Is a state defined demographically, geographically, or ideologically?
f. Do the rights and responsibilities of a state bear upon the leadership, the membership, or solely the abstract institution?
5) Are group morals identical to individual morals?
a. If not, how are they differentiated?
b. Are they size dependent?
c. Are they density dependent?
6) Can a state have a purpose other than the will of the constituent persons?
7) Can a state be culpable, or only the persons within the state?
8) Can the state be said to know things, or only persons within the state?
9) Does the state have an interest in objective knowledge, pragmatic knowledge, or some other category?
a. State schools propagate information, presumably in the state interest. What are the boundaries of that interest?
b. State agencies produce information, presumably in the state interest. What are the boundaries of that interest?
c. Is there information beneficial to the common good, which is not otherwise in the state interest?
10) Can the state be cognizant of moral propositions?
a. If moral propositions are real, by what mechanism does the state come to know them?
i. If real, the state may have a compelling interest in discerning/enforcing/propagating them independent of the will of the people.
b. If moral propositions are only relative, by what mechanism does the state choose them?
11) What is law?
a. Is law essentially the will of the state?
b. Does law exist naturally or only by the will of persons?
c. Does the number of persons make a difference?
d. Does coercion of the persons make a difference?
12) Do rights exist independent of the state?
a. If so, how may they be determined?
b. Do rights inhere in persons?
c. Do rights ever inhere in non-persons?
i. Are these the same as personal rights?
ii. Do states have rights?
d. What obligations do individuals have when their perception of rights conflicts with those of the state?
13) Do responsibilities exist independent of the state?
a. If so, how may they be determined?
b. Do responsibilities inhere in persons?
c. Do responsibilities ever inhere in non-persons?
i. Are these the same as personal responsibilities?
d. What obligations do individuals have when their perception of responisibilities conflicts with those of the state?
14) Is will necessary to law?
a. Social contract implies that the state enacts the will of the people. Ergo, the people require agency.
b. Natural law implies that the state has an objective function.
15) Is marriage more than a state sanctioned contract?
a. If so, how so?
b. If so, can the state recognize it as such?
16) What is ownership?
a. Is ownership a natural property of persons?
i. If so, how may it be discerned?
ii. If not, is it a product of social contract? Enforcement?
b. What may own property?
i. Can non-persons own property?
c. What may be owned?
i. Can persons be owned?
ii. Is there a limit to how much one person may own?
d. Can multiple owners share property?
i. How are their ownerships balanced?
e. Is “own” equivocal with regard to physical vs. intellectual property?
f. Can one owner have multiple properties of all types?
17) Is financial value inherent or attributed?
a. If inherent, how is it determined?
b. If attributed, by whom and in what manner?
c. Is there a state interest in manipulating value?
d. Is there a common good interest in manipulating value apart from state interest?
18) Does common (financial) value exist apart from as a function of the values of individuals?
a. If purely a function is it a sum, a weighted sum, an average…?
b. If separate, how does common value relate to individual value?
19) Can one make unambiguous statements about purpose?
20) Is purpose inherent or attributed?
a. Do persons have purpose?
i. Are they less if they do not fulfill their purpose?
ii. Is their purpose determinable?
1. By themselves?
2. By others?
iii. Is their purpose fixed?
iv. Is their purpose absolute or relative to other people?
b. Do groups of persons have a purpose?
i. Is their purpose fixed?
c. Do non-persons have a purpose?
i. Individual animals?
ii. Groups of animals?
iv. Inanimate objects?
21) Is purpose natural or artificial?
a. Is purpose always related to the interests of people?
b. Is purpose objective?
c. If purpose is natural, how is it related to intention?
i. Whose intention?
22) Is purpose personal or social?