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Robert A. Pascal Series

Revisiting the Distinction Between Persons and Things

This is a fundamental distinction in the civil law, going back to early Roman law. It may seem a mundane distinction, an easy one to work out. And yet, in the past, western societies have been challenged with the following problems:

  • Are the savages found in the Americas human beings?
  • May slaves be traded as other commodities?
  • The trial of animals

Today, the following problems come up:

  • May animals share some human rights?
  • Are frozen human embryos persons or things?
  • What is the legal status of the frozen semen of a dead man?

Other more traditional legal questions may also come up:

  • May persons make perpetual arrangements for things, limiting the autonomy of heirs or successors?
  • May ownership be an absolute right in a world where many resources are becoming scarce for a large part of mankind?


Professor Olivier Moréteau and Professor John Randall Trahan


September 2006
Dr. Audrey Guinchard
Lecturer at the University of Essex (UK), Visiting Professor at the LSU Law Center
Is the Name Property?

January 2007
Professor Jacques Vanderlinden
Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) and Université de Moncton (N-B, Canada)
Analyzing Property in Different Societies
See the video of the presentation

February 2007
Professor David Gruning
Loyola University School of Law (New Orleans)
Heirs of the Body: Cadavers, Claims, and Kin
See the video of the presentation

March 2007
Ms. Laurence Brunet and Dr. Sonia Desmoulin
Centre de recherche en droit des sciences et des techniques, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Human Embryo, Animal Embryo, Chimerical Embryo: What Legal Status?
See the video of the presentation

September 2007
Mr. Agustin Parise
Research Associate CCLS, Louisiana State University
The Valladolid Debate Revisited: Looking back to the Debate on Native Americans while facing the Current Status of Embryos
See the video of the presentation

October 2007
Dr. Laura Franciosi
Università Bocconi, Italy
Protecting Genetic Privacy: A Comparison between the U.S. and Italian Model
See the video of the presentation

November 2007
Professor Eric Reiter
Concordia University
Rethinking Civil-Law Taxonomy: Persons, Things, and the Problem of Domat’s Monster
See the video of the presentation 

The papers of the Robert A. Pascal Series are published in Volume One of the Journal of Civil Law Studies (JCLS).