The shapes of neurons and glial cells dictate many important aspects of their functions. In olfactory systems, certain architectural features are characteristics of these two cell types across a wide variety of species. The accumulated evidence suggests that these common features may play fundamental roles in olfactoryinformation processing. For instance, the primary olfactory neuropil in most vertebrate and invertebrate olfactory systems is organized into discrete modules called glomeruli. Inside each glomerulus, sensory axons and CNS neurons branch and synapse in patterns (...) that are repeated across species. In many species, moreover, the glomeruli are enveloped by a thin and ordered layer of glial processes. Theglomerular arrangement reflects the processing of odor information in modules that encode the discrete molecular attributes of odorant stimuli being processed. Recent studies of the mechanisms that guide the development of olfactory neurons and glial cells have revealed complex reciprocal interactions between these two cell types, which may be necessary for the establishment of modular compartments. Collectively, the findings reviewed here suggest that specialized cellular architecture plays key functional roles in the detection, analysis, and discrimination of odors at early steps in olfactory processing. (shrink)
Lynne Rudder Baker and many others think that paradigmatic instances of one object constituting another — a piece of marble constituting a statue, or an aggregate of particles constituting a living body — involve two distinct (i.e., not numerically identical) objects in the same place at the same time.1 Some who say this believe in the doctrine of temporal parts2; but others, like Baker, reject this doctrine.3 Such philosophers, whom one might call “coincidentalists”, cannot say that these objects manage (...) to share space in virtue of sharing a temporal part confined to just that place and time. But what can or should coincidentalists say about the nature of constitution? (shrink)
During the past couple of decades, philosophy of mind--with its siblings, philosophy of psychology and cognitive science--has been one of the most exciting areas of philosophy. Yet, in that time, I have come to think that there is a deep flaw in the basic conception of its object of study--a deep flaw in its conception of the so-called propositional attitudes, like belief, desire, and intention. Taking belief as the fundamental propositional attitude, scientifically-minded philosophers hold that beliefs, if there are any, (...) are brain states. I call this conception of belief. (shrink)
In her recent book Persons and Bodies1, Lynne Rudder Baker has defended what she calls the constitution view of persons. On this view, persons are constituted by their bodies, where “constitution” is a ubiquitous, general metaphysical relation distinct from more familiar relations, such as identity and part-whole composition.
This paper starts from the debate between proponents of a neo-Lockean psychological continuity view of personal identity, and defenders of the idea that we are simple mental substances. Each party has valid criticisms of the other; the impasse in the debate is traced to the Lockean assumption that substance is only externally related to its attributes. This suggests the possibility that we could develop a better account of mental substance if we thought of it as having an internal relation to (...) its states. I suggest that we may be able to do this by relying on the notion of expression. In developing this idea I draw heavily on aspects of Wittgenstein's philosophical psychology, while also developing and criticizing Strawson's account of persons and recent work by Lynne Baker. I conclude by arguing that mental substance, understood in this way, can only be grasped in narrative terms; substantialist and narrative accounts of personal identity, far from being opposed, are mutually supporting and require one another to be coherent. (shrink)
In "Was I Ever a Fetus?" I argued that, since each of us was once an unthinking fetus, psychological continuity cannot be necessary for us to persist through time. Baker claims that the argument is invalid, and that both the premise and the conclusion are false. I attempt to defend argument, premise, and conclusion against her objections.
Locke’s view that continuants are numerically distinct from their constituting hunks of matter is popular enough to be called the “standard account”.1 It was given its definitive contemporary statement by David Wiggins in Sameness and Substance2, and has been defended by many since. Baker’s interesting book contributes new arguments for this view, a new definition of ‘constitution’, and a sustained application to persons and human animals. Much of what she says develops this view in new and important ways. But in (...) some cases she does not advance the position, and in others she takes steps backwards. According to Baker, a person is numerically distinct from her constituting animal. One of Baker’s leading arguments is surprisingly unconvincing. Persons differ in important ways from non-human animals. Only persons are moral agents, modify their goals, have wars, culture, etc. If persons were identical to animals—if we were “nothing but animals”, as she puts it—then the manifest discontinuity between humans and non-human animals would be located “within the domain of biology”. “But from a biological point of view, human animals…are biologically continuous with non-human animals.” (p. 17) The argument fails: why should identifying persons with animals preclude saying that these particular animals have radically distinctive features that are of little interest to biologists? The traditional case for non-identity (which Baker accepts) is more powerful: a person and her constituting animal differ by having different persistence conditions. If my memories were transferred to a new body and my old body destroyed, I the person might survive, but the human animal who constituted me would perish. Therefore, before the transfer, I and the animal that constituted me would be numerically distinct but extremely similar things located in exactly the same place. This consequence—the central thesis of the Wiggins view—is surprising: so surprising that some reject the Wiggins view on that basis.. (shrink)
Each person is perceived by others and by herself as an individual in a very strong sense, namely as a unique individual. Moreover, this supposed uniqueness is commonly thought of as linked with another character that we tend to attribute to persons (as opposed to stones or chairs and even non-human animals): a kind of depth, hidden to sensory perception, yet in some measure accessible to other means of knowledge. I propose a theory of strong or essential individuality. This theory (...) is introduced by way of a critical discussion of Van Inwagen’s and Baker’s ontologies of persons. Composition Theory and Constitution Theory are shown to be complementary, in their opposite strong and weak points. I argue that both theories have unsatisfactory consequences concerning personal identity, a problem which the proposed theory seems to solve more faithfully both to folk intuitions and the phenomenology of personal life. (shrink)
The topics that I shall consider are these: (1) Causal Explanatoriness of the Attitudes (Dretske, Elugardo); (2) The “Brain-Explain” Thesis and Metaphysical Constraints on Explanation (Antony, Elugardo); (3) Causal Powers of Beliefs (Meyering); (4) Microreduction (Beckermann); (5) Non-Emergent, Non-Reductive Materialism (Antony); (6) The Master Argument Against the Standard View (Dretske, Antony, Elugardo); (7) Practical Realism Extended (Meijers); (8) Alternative to Both the Standard View and Practical Realism (Newen).
Traditionally, constitutionalists have offered just one notion of constitution to analyse the relation that an object, such as a statue or a chain, bears to the object/s from which it is made: let us say, a piece of marble in the first case or a piece of metal in the second. Robert Wilson proposes to differentiate two notions of constitution and, in this way, to offer constitutionalists a more varied range of metaphysical tools. To justify the introduction of the difference, (...) he presents several phenomena and problems, the explanation of which would justify the distinction he makes. In this paper I argue that Wilson’s proposal would not increase the explanatory power of a theory of constitution as it has traditionally been understood, only its complexity. Increasing the complexity without increasing the explanatory power of a theory, I defend, goes against one, at least prima facie, basic theoretical virtue: parsimony. In my argumentation I crucially use, for the case of Wilson’s first three arguments, the existence of principles of existence−persistence, which constitutionalists, Wilson among them, usually accept. In arguing against Wilson’s fourth argument I use a slightly modified version of Lynne Rudder Baker’s theory of constitution. (shrink)
Maybe they have been made, but I missed them because I don’t read and listen enough, as most of my energies are focused elsewhere. Apologies if this is all old hat. Don’t feel you have to read on. In case others are interested, I shall put this on my web site at http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/˜axs/gov/ My main point is that it is just silly to talk so much about universities and top-up fees without putting universities in the context of a complete policy (...) on post-school education. What I am offering is not a detailed policy, but a framework for thinking about the problem. Perhaps someone has already done this but I have never heard it mentioned in any of the public debates. I suspect that’s because this top-up fees issue is not part of a coherent policy but just a sort of religious commitment to a “new way”, like other things done by this government. I start with some comments on the fees issue, then go on to talk about how to think about post-school education, distinguishing several categories that need to be separated and funded differently as part of a joined-up system. (shrink)
This book explores how some word meanings are paradigmatically related to each other, for example, as opposites or synonyms, and how they relate to the mental organization of our vocabularies. Traditional approaches claim that such relationships are part of our lexical knowledge (our "dictionary" of mentally stored words) but Lynne Murphy argues that lexical relationships actually constitute our "metalinguistic" knowledge. The book draws on a century of previous research, including word association experiments, child language, and the use of synonyms (...) and antonyms in text. (shrink)
What is a human person, and what is the relation between a person and his or her body? In her third book on the philosophy of mind, Lynne Rudder Baker investigates what she terms the person/body problem and offers a detailed account of the relation between human persons and their bodies. Baker's argument is based on the 'Constitution View' of persons and bodies, which aims to show what distinguishes persons from all other beings and to show how we can (...) be fully material beings without being identical to our bodies. The Constitution View yields answers to the questions 'What am I most fundamentally?', 'What is a person?', and 'What is the relation between human persons and their bodies'? Baker argues that the complex mental property of first-person perspective enables one to conceive of one's body and mental states as one's own. (shrink)
Lynne Rudder Baker presents and defends a unique account of the material world: the Constitution View. In contrast to leading metaphysical views that take everyday things to be either non-existent or reducible to micro-objects, the Constitution View construes familiar things as irreducible parts of reality. Although they are ultimately constituted by microphysical particles, everyday objects are neither identical to, nor reducible to, the aggregates of microphysical particles that constitute them. The result is genuine ontological diversity: people, bacteria, donkeys, mountains (...) and microscopes are fundamentally different kinds of things - all constituted by, but not identical to, aggregates of particles. Baker supports her account with discussions of non-reductive causation, vagueness, mereology, artifacts, three-dimensionalism, ontological novelty, ontological levels and emergence. The upshot is a unified ontological theory of the entire material world that irreducibly contains people, as well as non-human living things and inanimate objects. (shrink)
The paper presents, motivates, critiques, and proposes revisions to Baker’s Constitution View, which includes her definitions of constitution, derivative features, and numerical sameness. The paper argues that Baker should add a mereological clause to her definition of constitution in order to avoid various counterexamples.
Explaining Attitudes offers a timely and important challenge to the dominant conception of belief found in the work of such philosophers as Dretske and Fodor. According to this dominant view beliefs, if they exist at all, are constituted by states of the brain. Lynne Rudder Baker rejects this view and replaces it with a quite different approach - practical realism. Seen from the perspective of practical realism, any argument that interprets beliefs as either brain states or states of immaterial (...) souls is a 'non-starter'. Practical realism takes beliefs to be states of the whole persons, rather like states of health. What a person believes is determined by what a person would do, say and think in various circumstances. Thus beliefs and other attitudes are interwoven into an integrated, commonsensical conception of reality. (shrink)
Are dual relationships always detrimental? Speaking the Unspeakable provides an in-depth exploration of client-practitioner dual relationships, offering critical discussion and sustained narrative on thinking about and being in dual relationships. Lynne Gabriel draws on the experiences of both practitioners and clients to provide a clear summary of the complex and multidimensional nature of dual relationships. The beneficial as well as detrimental potential of such relationships is discussed and illustrated with personal accounts. Subjects covered include: · Roles and boundaries in (...) dual and multiple role relationships · Client experiences and perceptions of being in dual and multiple role relationships · Developing a relational ethic for complex relationships This book offers an insightful and challenging portrayal of dual relationships that will be welcomed by therapists, trainers, trainees and supervisors. (shrink)
In this article I bring together Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray's engagements with Sigmund Freud's vexed attempt to step beyond the pleasure principle. Derrida's speculations on the name, the house and the practice of Freud find him inadvertently rewriting the conditions of the autobiographical as that which erases as much as inscribes, while Irigaray requires a sexually different modelling of what we call language if the experience of the girl is to be addressed. Yet Irigaray uncannily repeats the teleological gesture (...) of laying claim to a legacy, diagnosed in Freud by Derrida, even as this legacy is newly imagined as that of the feminine to which Freud remained blind. I then interweave these revised stakes of the fort-da game as they are expressed in two experimental films; Lynn Hershman Leeson's feature Conceiving Ada (USA, 1997) and Hussein Chalayan's short Absent Presence (UK/Turkey, 2005). One self-consciously concerns the recovery of ‘lost’ women from history (da!), the other investigates the treatment of the foreigner staged with an all-female cast (in which the instability of foreign objects can secure no fortification for the scientific subject). The films differently engage fantasies concerning genetics, and differently engage the projection of a legacy as teleological ambition. Privileging Derrida's transformation of the pleasure into the postal principle as that which invokes ‘Tele–without telos’, I ask after the transmissibility of this ambition. (shrink)
The fields of environmental ethics and of religion and ecology have been shaped by Lynn White Jr.'s thesis that the roots of ecological crisis lie in religious cosmology. Independent critical movements in both fields, however, now question this methodological legacy and argue for alternative ways of inquiry. For religious ethics, the twin controversies cast doubt on prevailing ways of connecting environmental problems to religious deliberations because the criticisms raise questions about what counts as an environmental problem, how religious traditions change, (...) and whether ethicists should approach problems and traditions with reformist commitments. This article examines the critiques of White's legacy and presents a pluralist alternative that focuses religious ethics on the contextual strategies produced by moral communities as they confront environmental problems. (shrink)
Controversy about Lynn White’s thesis that medieval Christianity is to blame for our current environmental crisis has done little to challenge the basic structure of White’s argument and has taken little account of recent work done by medieval scholars. White’s ecotheological critics, in particular, have often failed to come to grips with White’s position. In this paper, I question White’s reading of history on both interpretative and factual grounds and argue that religious values cannot be treated independently of the political, (...) economic, and social conditions that sustain them. I conclude that medieval religious values were more complex than White suggests: rather than causing technological innovation, they more likely provided a justification for other activity taking place for other reasons. (shrink)
Blair's assertion that fluid intelligence (gF) is distinct from general intelligence (g) is contradictory to cumulative evidence from intelligence research, including extant and novel evidence about generational IQ gains (Lynn–Flynn effect). Because of the near unity of gF and g, his hypothetical concept of gF' (gF “purged” of g variance) may well be a phlogiston theory. (Published Online April 5 2006).
This book presents and defends a unique account of the material world: the Constitution View. The Constitution View construes familiar things as irreducible parts of reality. Although ultimately constituted by physical particles, everyday things are neither identical to nor reducible to the aggregates of particles that constitute them The result is genuine ontological diversity: people, bacteria, donkeys, mountains and microscopes are fundamentally different kinds of things--all constituted by aggregates of particles. This view is supported by discussions of nonreductive causation, vagueness, (...) mereology, ontological novelty, ontological levels and emergence. (shrink)
The extended-mind thesis (EM) is the claim that mentality need not be situated just in the brain, or even within the boundaries of the skin. Some versions take "extended selves" be to relatively transitory couplings of biological organisms and external resources. First, I show how EM can be seen as an extension of traditional views of mind. Then, after voicing a couple of qualms about EM, I reject EM in favor of a more modest hypothesis that recognizes enduring subjects of (...) experience and agents with integrated bodies. Nonetheless, my modest hypothesis allows subpersonal states to have nonbiological parts that play essential roles in cognitive processing. I present empirical warrant for this modest hypothesis and show how it leaves room for science and religion to coexist. (shrink)
The expression ‘nonreductive materialism’ refers to a variety of positions whose roots lie in attempts to solve the mind-body problem. Proponents of nonreductive materialism hold that the mental is ontologically part of the material world; yet, mental properties are causally efficacious without being reducible to physical properties.s After setting out a minimal schema for nonreductive materialism (NRM) as an ontological position, I’ll canvass some classical arguments in favor of (NRM).1 Then, I’ll discuss the major challenge facing any construal of (NRM): (...) the problem of mental causation, pressed by Jaegwon Kim. Finally, I’ll offer a new solution to the problem of mental causation. (shrink)
After centuries of reflection, the issue of human freedom remains vital largely because of its connection to moral responsibility. When I ask—What is human freedom?—I mean to be asking what kind of freedom is required for moral responsibility? Questions about moral responsibility are intimately connected to questions about social policy and justice; so, the issue of moral responsibility—of desert, of whether or not anyone is ever really praiseworthy or blameworthy—has practical as well as theoretical significance.
The first-person perspective is a challenge to naturalism. Naturalistic theories are relentlessly third-personal. The first-person perspective is, well, first-personal; it is the perspective from which one thinks of oneself as oneself* without the aid of any third-person name, description, demonstrative or other referential device. The exercise of the capacity to think of oneself in this first-personal way is the necessary condition of all our self-knowledge, indeed of all our self-consciousness. As important as the first-person perspective is, many philosophers have not (...) appreciated the force of the data from the first-person perspective, and suppose that the first-person perspective presents no particular problems for the naturalizing philosopher. For example, Ned Block commented, “It is of course [phenomenal] consciousness rather than...self-consciousness that has seemed such a scientific mystery.” (Block 1995, 230) And <span class='Hi'>David</span> Chalmers says that self-consciousness is one of those psychological states that “pose no deep metaphysical enigmas.” (Chalmers 1996, 24). (shrink)
Amie Thomasson has won well-deserved praise for her book, Ordinary Objects. She defends a commonsense world view and gives us “reason to think that there are fundamental particles, plants and animals, sticks and stones, tables and chairs, and even marriages and mortgages.” (p. 181) Ordinary objects comprise a vast array of things—natural objects both scientific and commonsensical, artifacts, organisms, abstract social objects.
We run into instances of material constitution everywhere we turn. Material constitution is the relation that obtains between an octagonal piece of metal and a Stop sign, between strands of DNA molecules and genes, between pieces of paper and dollar bills, between stones and monuments, between lumps of clay and statues, between human persons and their bodies—the list is endless. Although there has been a great deal of controversy recently about the nature of material constitution, I want to enter the (...) fray by setting out and defending an explicit definition of what it is for an object x to constitute an object y at time t. (shrink)
According to the Constitution View of persons, a human person is wholly constituted by (but not identical to) a human organism. This view does justice both to our similarities to other animals and to our uniqueness. As a proponent of the Constitution View, I defend the thesis that the coming-into-existence of a human person is not simply a matter of the coming-into-existence of an organism, even if that organism ultimately comes to constitute a person. Marshalling some support from developmental psychology, (...) I give a broadly materialistic account of the coming-into-existence of a human person. I argue for the metaphysical superiority of the Constitution View to Biological Animalism, Thomistic Animalism, and other forms of Substance Dualism. I conclude by discussing the single implication of the Constitution View for thinking about abortion. Footnotesa Thanks to Gareth Matthews and Catherine E. Rudder for comments. I am also grateful to other contributors to this volume, especially Robert A. Wilson, Marya Schechtman, David Oderberg, Stephen Braude, and John Finnis. (shrink)
Nonphilosophers, if they think of philosophy at all, wonder why people work in metaphysics. After all, metaphysics, as Auden once said of poetry, makes nothing happen.1 Yet some very intelligent people are driven to spend their lives exploring metaphysical theses. Part of what motivates metaphysicians is the appeal of grizzly puzzles (like the paradox of the heap or the puzzle of the ship of Theseus). But the main reason to work in metaphysics, for me at least, is to understand the (...) shared world that we all encounter and interact with. And the shared world that we all encounter includes us self-conscious beings and our experience. The world that we inhabit is unavoidably a temporal world: the signing of the Declaration of Independence is later than the Lisbon earthquake; the Cold War is in the past; your death is in the future. There is no getting away from time. (shrink)
Abstract: On standard accounts, actions are caused by reasons (Davidson), and reasons are taken to be neural phenomena. Since neural phenomena are wholly understandable from a third-person perspective, standard views have no room for any ineliminable first-personal elements in an account of the causation of action. This article aims to show that first-person perspectives play essential roles in both human and nonhuman agency. Nonhuman agents have rudimentary first-person perspectives, whereas human agents—at least rational agents and moral agents—have robust first-person perspectives. (...) The author concludes with a view of intentional causation, according to which reasons are constituted by (but not identical to) neural phenomena. The idea of constitution without identity allows for a causal account of action that automatically includes first-personal aspects of agency. (shrink)
Peter van Inwagen has offered two versions of an influential argument that has come to be called ‘the Consequence Argument’. The Consequence Argument purports to demonstrate that determinism is incompatible with free will.1 It aims to show that, if we assume determinism, we are committed to the claim that, for all propositions p, no one has or ever had any choice about p. Unfortunately, the original Consequence Argument employed an inference rule (the β-rule) that was shown to be invalid. (McKay (...) and Johnson 1996) In response, van Inwagen revised his argument. I shall argue that the conclusion of the revised Consequence Argument is wholly independent of the premiss of determinism, and hence that the revised Consequence Argument is useless in showing that determinism is incompatible with free will. (shrink)
Eric T. Olson has argued that any view of personal identity in terms of psychological continuity has a consequence that he considers untenable-namely, that he was never an early-term fetus. I have several replies. First, the psychological-continuity view of personal identity does not entail the putative consequence; the appearance to the contrary depends on not distinguishing between de re and de dicto theses. Second, the putative consequence is not untenable anyway; the appearance to the contrary depends on not taking seriously (...) an idea that underlies a plausible view of persons that I call `the Constitution View.' Finally, Olson's own "Biological View of personal identity" has liabilities of its own. (shrink)
The ontological argument in Anselm’s Proslogion II continues to generate a remarkable store of sophisticated commentary and criticism. However, in our opinion, much of this literature ignores or misrepresents the elegant simplicity of the original argument. The dialogue below seeks to restore that simplicity, with one important modification. Like the original, it retains the form of a reductio, which we think is essential to the argument’s great genius. However, it seeks to skirt the difficult question of whether 'exists' is a (...) genuine predicate by appealing instead to a distinction between having only mediated causal powers and having unmediated causal powers. Pegasus has no unmediated causal powers, but he has mediated causal powers through the thoughts, depictions, and literature in which he figures. This distinction allows us to argue about the existence of God without begging any questions. (shrink)
Theories of the human person differ greatly in their ability to underwrite a metaphysics of resurrection. This paper compares and contrasts a number of such views in light of the Christian doctrine of resurrection. In a Christian framework, resurrection requires that the same person who exists on earth also exists in an afterlife, that a postmortem person be embodied, and that the existence of a postmortem person is brought about by a miracle. According to my view of persons (the Constitution (...) View), a human person is constituted by—but not identical to—a human organism. A person has a first-person perspective essentially, and an organism has interrelated biological functions essentially. I shall argue for the superiority the Constitution View as a metaphysical basis for resurrection. (shrink)
My aim is twofold: first, to root out the metaphysical assumptions that generate the problem of mental causation and to show that they preclude its solution; second, to dissolve the problem of mental causation by motivating rejection of one of the metaphysical assumptions that give rise to it. There are three features of this metaphysical background picture that are important for our purposes. The first concerns the nature of reality: all reality depends on physical reality, where physical reality consists of (...) a network of events.1 The second concerns the nature of causation, and the third concerns the conception of behavior. I try to vindicate a robust idea of mental causation. (shrink)
Metaphysics: 5 Questions is a collection of short interviews based on 5 questions presented to some of the most influential and prominent philosophers in the field. We hear their views on metaphysics, the aim, the scope, the future direction of research and how their work fits in these respects. Interviews with Lynne Rudder Baker, Helen Beebee, Thomas Hofweber, Hugh Mellor, Peter Menzies, Stephen Mumford, Daniel Nolan, Eric T.Olson, L. A. Paul, Lorenz B. Puntel, Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gideon Rosen, Jonathan Schaffer, (...) Peter Simons, Barry Smith, Michael Tooley, Peter van Inwagen, Dean Zimmerman. (shrink)
In the large recent literature on the nature of human persons, persons are usually studied in isolation from the world in which they live. What persons are most fundamentally, philosophers say, are human animals, or brains, or perhaps souls -- without any consideration of the social and physical environments without which persons would not exist. In this article, I want to compensate for such overly narrow focus. Instead of beginning with the nature of persons cut off from any environment, I (...) shall begin with metaphysical consideration of the world of which persons are a part. I shall then briefly describe my view of persons, according to which persons are material objects like other concrete things in the world, but are unique in their first-person perspectives. Finally, I shall consider some of the special relations that persons, and only persons, have to other things in the world. (shrink)
One of the deepest assumptions of Judaism and its offspring, Christianity, is that there is an important difference between human persons and everything else that exists in Creation. We alone are made in God’s image. We alone are the stewards of the earth. It is said in Genesis that we have “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps (...) upon the earth.” It is difficult to see how a traditional theist could deny the significance of the difference between human persons and the rest of Creation. We human persons are morally and ontologically special. (shrink)
Many Christians who argue against Christian materialism direct their arguments against what I call ‘Type-I materialism’, the thesis that I cannot exist without my organic body. I distinguish Type-I materialism from Type-II materialism, which entails only that I cannot exist without some body that supports certain mental functions. I set out a version of Type-II materialism, and argue for its superiority to Type-I materialism in an age of science. Moreover, I show that Type-II materialism can accommodate Christian doctrines like the (...) Resurrection of the Body, the Incarnation, and the intermediate state (if there is one). (shrink)
I want to raise a question for which I have no definitive answer. The question is how to understand first-personal phenomena—phenomena that that can be discerned only from a first-personal point of view. The question stems from reflection on two claims: First, the claim of scientific naturalism that all phenomena can be described and explained by science; and second, the claim of science that everything within its purview is intersubjectively accessible, and hence that all science is constructed exclusively form the (...) third-personal point of view. Using these two claims as premises, we can construct a simple valid argument, which I’ll label ‘The Master Argument:’. (shrink)
Social Externalism is the thesis that many of our thoughts are individuated in part by the linguistic and social practices of the thinker’s community. After defending Social Externalism and arguing for its broad application, I turn to the kind of defeasible first-person authority that we have over our own thoughts. Then, I present and refute an argument that uses first-person authority to disprove Social Externalism. Finally, I argue briefly that Social Externalism—far from being incompatible with first-person authority—provides a check on (...) first-personal pronouncements and thus saves first-person authority from being simply a matter of social convention and from collapsing into the subjectivity of “what seems right is right.”. (shrink)
It is no news that you and I are agents as well as persons. Agency and personhood are surely connected, but it is not obvious just how they are connected. I believe that being a person and being an agent are intimately linked by what I call a ‘first-person perspective’: All persons and all agents have first-person perspectives. Even so, the connection between personhood and agency is not altogether straightforward. There are different kinds of agents, and there are different kinds (...) of first-person perspectives. On the one hand, all persons are agents, but not all agents are persons; on the other hand, all moral agents are persons, but not all persons are moral agents. (shrink)
Artifacts are objects intentionally made to serve a given purpose; natural objects come into being without human intervention. I shall argue that this difference does not signal any ontological deficiency in artifacts qua artifacts. After sketching my view of artifacts as ordinary objects, I’ll argue that ways of demarcating genuine substances do not draw a line with artifacts on one side and natural objects on the other. Finally, I’ll suggest that philosophers have downgraded artifacts because they think of metaphysics as (...) resting on a distinction between what is “mindindependent” and what is “mind dependent.” I’ll challenge the use of any such distinction as a foundation for metaphysics. (shrink)
In the large recent literature on the nature of human persons, persons are usually studied in isolation from the world in which they live. What persons are most fundamentally, philosophers say, are human animals, or brains, or perhaps souls—without any consideration of the social and physical environments without which persons would not exist. I confess that I, too, have been guilty at times of focusing narrowly on persons without regard to the world in which they live.
What is this thing called ‘Commonsense Psychology’? The first matter to settle is what the issue is here. By ‘commonsense psychology,’ I mean primarily the systems of describing, explaining and predicting human thought and action in terms of beliefs, desires, hopes, fears, expectations, intentions and other so-called propositional attitudes. Although commonsense psychology encompasses more than propositional attitudes--e.g., emotions, traits and abilities are also within its purview--belief-desire reasoning forms the core of commonsense psychology. Commonsense psychology is what we use to explain (...) intentional action as ordinarily described--e.g., Jack went to the store because he wanted some ice cream. Commonsense psychology also is used to explain mental states--e.g., Jill feared that she would be late because she thought that the meeting began at 4:00. Commonsense psychology is the province of everyone; we all use it all the time. (shrink)
Lynne Rudder Baker’s Constitution View of human persons has come under much recent scrutiny. Baker argues that each human person is constituted by, but not identical to, a human animal. Much of the critical discussion of Baker’s Constitution View has focused upon this aspect of her account. Less has been said about the positive diachronic account of personal identity offered by Baker. Baker argues that it is sameness of what she labels ‘first-person perspective’ that is essential to understanding personal (...) identity over time . Baker claims that her account avoids the commitment to indeterminacy of personal identity entailed by the psychological account. Further, the psychological account, but not her account, is plagued by what Baker labels the ‘duplication problem’. In the end, I argue that neither of these considerations forces us to renounce the psychological account and adopt Baker’s favored account. (shrink)
With all the attention given to the study of consciousness recently, the topic of self-consciousness has been relatively neglected. “It is of course [phenomenal] consciousness rather than...self-conscious that has seemed such a scientific mystery,” a prominent philosopher comments.1 Phenomenal consciousness concerns the aspect of a state that feels a certain way: roses smell like this; garlic tastes like that; middle C sounds like this, and so on. Although phenomenal consciousness is surely a fruitful area of scientific investigation, I hope to (...) demonstrate here that investigation of selfconsciousness offers its own rewards, ontologically speaking. (shrink)
relation between, say, a lump of clay and a statue that it makes up, or between a red and white piece of metal and a stop sign, or between a person and her body? Assuming that there is a single relation between members of each of these pairs, is the relation “strict” identity, “contingent” identity or something else?1 Although this question has generated substantial controversy recently,2 I believe that there is philo- sophical gain to be had from thinking through the (...) issues from scratch. Many of the charges and countercharges are based on the following dichotomy: For any x and y that are related as the lump of clay is to the statue that it makes up, either x is identical to y, or x and y are separate entities, independent of each other. By giving up this dichotomy, we will be able to begin to make sense, I hope, of an intermediate unity relation that holds promise for solving a raft of philosophical problems, including the problem of how persons are related to their bodies.3 And if I am correct, then this relation—constitution without identity—is ubiquitous and interesting in its own right, apart from the light that it sheds on human persons. (shrink)
Throughout his illustrious career, Roderick Chisholm was concerned with the nature of persons. On his view, persons are what he called ‘entia per se.’ They exist per se, in their own right. I too have developed an account of persons—I call it the ‘Constitution View’—an account that is different in important ways from Chisholm’s. Here, however, I want to focus on a thesis that Chisholm and I agree on: that persons have ontological significance in virtue of being persons. Although I’ll (...) make the notion of ontological significance more precise later, the rough idea is that Fs (persons, or whatever) have ontological significance just in case a new F is a new thing and not just a change in some already-existing thing. (shrink)
In this paper we examine and critique the constitution view of the metaphysics of resurrection developed and defended by Lynne Rudder Baker. Baker identifies three conditions for an adequate metaphysics of resurrection. We argue that one of these, the identity condition, cannot be met on the constitution view given the account of personal identity it assumes. We discuss some problems with the constitution theory of personal identity Baker develops in her book, Persons and Bodies . We argue that these (...) problems render the constitution theory of personal identity as stated by Baker untenable. The upshot for the debate over the metaphysics of resurrection is that the constitution view of the metaphysics of resurrection must either be rejected or modified. (shrink)
This brief article introduces a symposium discussing the extended mind thesis and its suggestive relation to religious thought. Essays by Mark Rowlands, Lynne Rudder Baker, Teed Rockwell, Joel Krueger, Leonard Angel, and Matthew Day present a variety of perspectives.
I want to raise three questions for discussion: 1. How are a philosopher’s concerns about the human mind related to a neuroscientist’s concerns? 2. Can neuroscience explain everything that we want to understand about the human mind? 3. Does neuroscience threaten our dignity or humanity (or anything else that we cherish about ourselves)? Let’s take these questions one at a time.
Many physicalists are committed to an austere dichotomy: either beliefs, desires and intentions are scientifically respectable or attributions of such attitudes are all false. One physicalist, Daniel Dennett, offers a third alternative, which seems to permit a kind of instrumentalism concerning attitudes. I argue that Dennett's attempt to reconcile an instrumentalistic account of attributions of attitudes with a thoroughgoing physicalism founders on unresolvable conflicts between his official theory and his actual treatment of key concepts. As a result, instrumentalism concerning attitudes (...) is exposed as inadequate to be a genuine alternative to the physicalist's dichotomy. (shrink)
Arguably the most significant development in the recent history of the personal identity debate has been the emergence of the view known as "animalism." This volume brings together original contributions on this topic written by both well-known and emerging philosophers. Contributors: Lynne Rudder Baker, Stephan Blatti, David Hershenov, Jens Johansson, Mark Johnston, Rory Madden, Jeff McMahan & Tim Campbell, Eric Olson, Derek Parfit, Mark Reid, Denis Robinson, David Shoemaker, Sydney Shoemaker, Paul Snowdon.
Metaphysics has enjoyed a vigorous revival in the last few decades. Even so, there has been little ontological interest in the things that we interact with everyday—trees, tables, other people.1 It is not that metaphysicians ignore ordinary things altogether. Indeed, they are happy to say that sentences like ‘The daffodils are out early this year’ or ‘My computer crashed again’ are true. But they take the truth of such sentences not to require that a full description of reality mention daffodils (...) or computers. Many metaphysicians now interpret the apparent variety of things in the world as variety only of concepts applied to things that are basically of the same sort—for example, sums of particles or of temporal parts of particles. (shrink)
Although prominent Christian theologians and philosophers have assumed the truth of mind/body dualism, I want to raise the question of whether the Christian ought to be a mind/body dualist. First, I sketch a picture of mind, and of human persons, that is not a form of mind/body dualism. Then, I argue that the nondualistic picture is compatible with a major traditional Christian doctrine, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. Finally, I suggest that if a Christian need not be (...) a mind/body dualist, then she should not be a mind/body dualist. (shrink)
Beginning with Aristotle, philosophers have taken artifacts to be ontologically deficient. This paper proposes a theory of artifacts, according to which artifacts are ontologically on a par with other material objects. I formulate a nonreductive theory that regards artifacts as constituted by - but not identical to - aggregates of particles. After setting out the theory, I rebut a number of arguments that disparage the ontological status of artifacts.