Margaret Somerville: Theology of the Person – Personhood & Bioethics

Date(s) - April 8, 2022
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Categories No Categories

Regent College’s Centre for Humanity and the Common Good presents an eight-part lecture series on the Theology of the Person. This lecture series recovers the all-important concept of the “Person” for a theological engagement of contemporary culture.

Join us on Friday, April 8, 2022 for the final lecture titled “Personhood and Bioethics” with Dr. Margaret Somerville. This lecture will be available online only.


Lecture Title: Personhood and Bioethics
Speaker: Margaret Somerville
Date: Friday, April 8, 2022
Time: 6:30 pm–9:30 pm


Does “Personhood” help us make wise decisions in bioethics? Asked another way, is personhood a useful, useless or dangerous concept in Bioethics? That depends on how the concept is defined and used.

Personhood is a useful concept when it helps us to find a common starting point on which we can all agree. That allows us to experience belonging to a common moral universe. It is also useful when it helps us to make good ethical decisions. It is useless when we cannot agree on who or what is a person or on what respect for persons and their protection requires.

It is dangerous when it is used as an exclusionary device that places vulnerable people at risk of serious harm and denies them the respect and protections to which they would be entitled if they were seen as persons. Therefore, who is a person?


Margaret Somerville is Samuel Gale Professor of Law Emerita, Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Medicine, and Founding Director Emerita of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University, Montreal, where she taught from 1978 to 2016, when she returned to Sydney to become Professor of Bioethics in the School of Medicine at The University of Notre Dame Australia. She has authored several books: The Ethical Canary: Science, Society, and the Human Spirit (Penguin 2000); Death Talk: the Case Against Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (MQUP 2002); The Ethical Imagination: Journeys of the Human Spirit (Anansi 2006), which she delivered as the nationally broadcast CBC 2006 Massey Lectures; and most recently Birds on an Ethics Wire: Battles about Values in the Culture Wars (MQUP 2015).


The James M. Houston Centre for Humanity and the Common Good is a five-year initiative of Regent College dedicated to the question of human identity and its importance for conceptions of the good life. Grounded in Dr. James M. Houston’s Christian theological vision of integrative scholarship combining academic study, practical research, and lived reality, the centre will provide opportunities for interdisciplinary and inter-religious dialogue on the question of what it means to be human. Through planned collaboration with UBC and other academic institutions, and by inviting insights from a wide range of secular and religious perspectives, the centre aims to engage in a broad consideration of human identity and the common good.


The lecture is free, but a ticket is required to participate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *