The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Thinking Allowed 2016: 'Queer' wars, Nigerian beauty pageantsMonday, 30th May 2016 00:15 - BBC Radio 4Laurie Taylor and guests looks at the international polarisation over sexual rights and beauty contests in a... Read more: Thinking Allowed 2016: 'Queer' wars, Nigerian beauty pageants
The Educators: Series 2: Character LessonsMonday, 30th May 2016 23:30 - BBC Radio 4
Life - with David Attenborough: Creatures of the DeepTuesday, 31st May 2016 09:00 - Eden
Life - with David Attenborough: PlantsTuesday, 31st May 2016 10:00 - Eden
Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 3Available until Sunday, 26th June 2016 20:00With only four weeks left at the Oxford Academy, we look to see how the old and young have learned from each other. Read more: Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 3
Thinking Allowed 2016: 'Queer' wars, Nigerian beauty pageantsAvailable for over a year
All in the Mind - Summer 2016: Exams and the mental health of children, a community approach to suicide preventionAvailable for over a year
Thinking Allowed 2016: Glasgow gangs - Russian gangsAvailable for over a year
Life - with David AttenboroughDavid Attenborough explores the vibrant mix of life found on our plant - where it comes from, and... Read more: Life - with David Attenborough
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Una lengua en movimientoThis free course will develop your knowledge and understanding of the societies and cultures of... Try: Una lengua en movimiento now
Organisations and management accountingThis free course, Organisations and management accounting, examines the nature of organisations,... Try: Organisations and management accounting now
What is a person? This free course, Philosophy: The nature of persons, examines this philosophical question concerning the nature of personhood. You will examine whether a 'person' is the same as a 'human being', and look at whether it is our free will that in the end defines us as a 'person'.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- discuss what it means to be a person
- read and understand arguments discussing this question.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introducing the concept of the 'person' and 'persons'
- 2 Determinism and free choice: a brief résumé
- 3 Peter Strawson: ‘Freedom and resentment’
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Philosophy: The nature of persons
This free course asks what it is to be a person. You will see that there are several philosophical questions around the nature of personhood. Here we explore what it is that defines the concept. As you work through the course, you will notice that this area of enquiry has developed its own semi-technical vocabulary. The plural of ‘person’ is, in this area of enquiry, ‘persons’ rather than ‘people’. It is easy to see the reason for this. The question ‘What are people?’ is potentially confusing. It could mean ‘What is it to be a people (as opposed to simply a collection of individuals)?’ This, like the question of what it is to be a state or a nation, falls within the province of political philosophy. This is not the question we want. Instead, we want ‘What is it to be a person (or one of the kind of thing that are persons)?’
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Postgraduate Level study in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Philosophy courses or view the range of currently available OU Philosophy courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Monday, 21st March 2016
Last updated on: Monday, 21st March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (822 KB)
- PDF (1.9 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (651 KB)
- ePub 2.0 (652 KB)
- Kindle (259 KB)
- RSS (129 KB)
- HTML (639 KB)
- SCORM (638 KB)
- OUXML Package (21 KB)
- OUXML File (63 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (876 KB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.