Is that my heart? A hylomorphic account of bodily parthood.
This dissertation investigates the metaphysics of human body parts; particularly, the epistemic conditions under which something can be said to be a “body part of” some particular human being. In this dissertation I draw on the hylomorphism of Aristotle and John Duns Scotus to argue that a necessary and sufficient condition on human bodily parthood is an object’s functioning for the sake of the whole human being and the maintenance of her biological life. I argue that, on this view of bodily parthood, at least some prostheses or artificial organs (“artificial body parts”) are truly body parts of the human beings in whom they operate. I defend this view in reference to both Aristotelian and Scotistic hylomorphism, as well as answering objections raised by some contemporary views of bodily parthood as merely conventional. I argue that this has important implications for medical ethics, including potentially restricting medical interventions in end-of-life care and heightening the legal ramification of damage done to prostheses. I argue that investigation into the metaphysical questions surrounding body parts and their composition can illuminate hitherto underappreciated dimensions of ethical questions in medicine.