To say that a person desired to do A, thought it his duty to do B, but was forced to do C, is not to describe him as one might describe a scientific specimen. One does indeed describe him, but one does something more. And it’s this ‘something more’ which is the irreducible core of the framework of persons.

In what does this ‘something more’ consist? To think of a featherless bird as a person is to think of it as a being with which one is bound up in a network of duties. From this point of view, the irreducibility of the personal is the irreducibility of the ought or the is. But even more basic than this to think of a featherless biped as a person is to construe its behavior in terms of actual or potential membership in an embracing group, each member of which thinks of itself as a member of the group. Let’s call such a group a community.

Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man Section VII

  • Deep connection between the normative, the social, and the self-conscious.