Understanding Relational Persons: A Conversation with Roger Scruton


Returning to Liberty Law Talk is Roger Scruton to discuss his latest book, On Human Nature.

Roger Scruton

Professor Roger Scruton is visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall Oxford and visiting Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. His other books include Sexual Desire, The West and the Rest, England: An Elegy, News from Somewhere, Gentle Regrets and I Drink Therefore I Am (all published by Continuum).

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    • N.D. says

      On what point would that be? The fact that every son or daughter of a human person can only be in essence, a human person, and that only human persons can exist in Loving relationship in communion with God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers?

      In recognizing God to Be, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, no doubt our Founding Fathers recognized the self-evident truth that our unalienable Rights have been endowed to us from God, not Ceasar, King John, John Locke, or some false god because God Is The Author of Love, of Life, and of Marriage.


      Every single person exists in relationship.

      • says

        The Constitution needs to be amended on the point of what is an “officer” subject to senatorial confirmation.

        “Person” is a legal term of art.It is something that can have legal rights, powers, and duties. It is a “role” that can be played in a judicial proceeding. It is not the actor who might play the role. Two different concepts. Forget the lay meaning of “natural person”, which is an actor, and a corruption of the concept.

        And none of that has to do with the religious meanings you mention.

  1. N.D. says

    “In jurisprudence, a natural person is a person (in legal meaning. i.e., one who has its own legal personality) that is an individual human being, as opposed to a legal person, which may be a private (i.e., business entity or non-governmental organization) or public (i.e., government) organization.”

    With all due respect, one, or a group of persons, can know through both Faith and reason that a person cannot in essence be a corruption of the concept of person, because personhood is not a concept but a reality. When persons desire to assemble with other persons and form a business entity, Faith group, agency, or some such, they do not change the essence of their personhood simply because they are now members of an assembly of persons who may have additional legal rights, powers, and duties.

    • says

      Wrong. “Person” is a legal term of art. Do not conflate it with lay uses of the term. There is no “essence of personhood” that resides in human actors (not the legal roles they play). You are seeking some “essence of humanity”, but not of “personhood”.

      This also gets conflated with debate about “human life” and when it begins. It is not “human life” that has rights. Only “persons” can have rights. The actor is not the roles he might play.

      • gabe says

        Well, is my 2 year old grandson a “person” as he does not really have a clue about “great topics” and my 10 month old grandaughter has only minimal awareness of anything outside herself

        Actually, not too different from an unborn person.

        I mean, really, what does define “personhood” and when is a homonid a *person*?

        • says

          “Person” as a legal term of art goes back to ancient Roman law.

          God does not create “persons” in the sense you are trying to use that word. God creates the actors that may become persons in a legal proceeding.

          Forget your lay understanding of words when you try to discuss law. It will only lead you astray.

          • gabe says

            I was not referring to God; I was referring to biology!

            It would seem that the failure to consider biology may lead one astray!

          • says

            God is only the creator of “persons” in the sense that He is the creator of everything, including our social constructs. The ideas of “person” (role) and the “actor” who can play a role, are social constructs. It is not useful for this discussion to conflate all these.

          • Nancy says

            Speciation occurs at the moment of conception. A human person can only conceive a human person, thus every son or daughter of a human person, from the moment of conception, can only be, a human person.

          • says

            Nonsense. A “person” is NOT a biological being. It is a term of legal art, and that is all it is. Forget your lay use of the term. This is a legal discussion, not a lay discussion.

          • Nancy says

            You are simply mistaken:

            No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
            14th Amendment | Constitution | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute

          • says

            The quote from the 14th Amendment just emphasizes my point. Rights are guaranteed to persons, not just citizens, including foreign visitors. “Privileges or immunities” are guaranteed to “citizens” (which includes “persons”) because “privileges include the privileges to vote and hold office. Those are not “rights”.

  2. N.D. says


    “And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”

    Our Dignity comes from having been created, from the moment of our conception, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter, Willed by God, worthy of Redemption- to live in Loving relationships in communion with The Blessed Trinity.

    Only human persons have been created for Love; only human persons have been created for communion with God.

  3. gabe says

    Jon: (just for the fun of it all)

    So, “all persons born or naturalized……..” must therefore mean that “all corporations….” as well.
    As a legal term of art, corporations ARE persons.

    Hmmmm! I wonder if we should considering “modifying” our statements that “a person is not a biological thing”

    Let us not lose sight of the biological underpinning of personhood with the legal fiction of *personhood*

    I think the Drafters of the 14th Amendment were well able to discern the underlying biology (unless, of course, Bill Nye was around to “help” them).

    • says

      When the 14th uses the words “born or naturalized” it is referring to biological beings, which should be clear from context. It is not referring to corporate entities. Do not expect logical precision from the framers of the 14th. They were mostly self-taught country lawyers who were at best vague on the subject of logic.

      “Corporations” have been legal persons since ancient Roman law. That was not something introduced later. The Romans used the term as synonymous with the term “trust”, which came later. A common usage was “corporation sole”, meaning a one-individual trust. Thus the deacon of a church, in possession and management of the property of the church, would be its “corporation sole”, without owning the property or having the church property liable for the deacon’s personal debts.

      The original meaning of “person” was “mask”, referring to the use of masks by stage actors to signify the part they were playing at any given moment during the play. Thus, the actor could play a father at one point, a child at another, a public official at still another, all different “persons”.

      Yes, “personhood” is a kind of fiction, but roles were real enough. Only a role could have rights, powers, or duties. Only a person could be guilty of a crime, although it might be the biological being, the actor, that receives the punishment.

  4. says

    The 14th Amendment does not just refer to citizens of The United States:
    “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

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