Substance concepts and personal identity

Philosophical Studies 150 (2):255-270 (2010)
According to one argument for Animalism about personal identity, animal , but not person , is a Wigginsian substance concept—a concept that tells us what we are essentially. Person supposedly fails to be a substance concept because it is a functional concept that answers the question “what do we do?” without telling us what we are. Since person is not a substance concept, it cannot provide the criteria for our coming into or going out of existence; animal , on the other hand, can provide such criteria. This argument has been defended by Eric Olson, among others. I argue that this line of reasoning fails to show Animalism to be superior to the Psychological Approach, for the following two reasons: (1) human animal , animal , and organism are all functional concepts, and (2) the distinction between what something is and what it does is illegitimate on the reading that the argument needs.
Keywords Personal identity  Substance concepts  Animalism  The Psychological Approach  Animal  Person  Eric Olson
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DOI 10.2307/40856554
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Matthew J. Barker (2013). Biological Explanations, Realism, Ontology, and Categories. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):617-622.

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