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.
Was sind wir? Wie immer man sich zu dieser Frage stellt, eines scheint offenkundig: Wir sind Tiere, genauer gesagt: menschliche Tiere, Mitglieder der Art Homo sapiens. Dabei mag es überraschen, daß viele Philosophen diese vermeintlich banale Tatsache abstreiten. Plato, Augustinus, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant und Hegel, um nur einige herausragende zu nennen, waren alle der Meinung, wir seien keine Tiere. Es mag zwar sein, daß unsere Körper Tiere sind. Doch sind wir nicht mit unseren Körpern gleichzusetzen. Wir sind etwas (...) anderes als Tiere. Kaum anderer Meinung sind Denker nicht-westlicher Traditionen. Und rund neun von zehn Philosophen, die heutzutage über Probleme der personalen Identität nachdenken, vertreten Ansichten, die ausschließen, daß wir Tiere sind. (shrink)
Institutions create their own internal cultures, including the culture of ethics that pervades scientific research, academic policy, and administrative philosophy. This paper addresses some of the issues involved in institutional enhancement of its culture of research ethics, focused on individual empowerment and strategies that individuals can use to initiate institutional change.
Education in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) in the United States has evolved over the past decade from targeting trainees to including educational efforts aimed at faculty and staff. In addition RCR education has become more focused as federal agencies have moved to recommend specific content and to mandate education in certain areas. RCR education has therefore become a research-compliance issue necessitating the development of policies and the commitment of resources to develop or expand systems for educating faculty and (...) staff and for assuring compliance. These changes implied the need to develop a program evaluation model that could be applied to institutional RCR education programs, which were expected to differ from traditional academic credit-bearing courses targeting trainees. Information gleaned from the examination of corporate compliance models was analyzed in order to create a program evaluation module that could be used to document and assess educational programs focused on teaching RCR. A programmed series of questions for each of the nine RCR content areas identified by the United States Office of Research Integrity was created based on a performance-monitoring evaluation model. The questions focus on educational goals, resources provided to support the educational efforts, educational content, content delivery, educational outcomes, compliance requirements and feedback. Answers collected in response to the questions could be used to both document and continually improve the quality of RCR educational programs through on-going formative assessment and feedback. (shrink)
Most philosophers writing about personal identity in recent years claim that what it takes for us to persist through time is a matter of psychology. In this groundbreaking new book, Eric Olson argues that such approaches face daunting problems, and he defends in their place a radically non-psychological account of personal identity. He defines human beings as biological organisms, and claims that no psychological relation is either sufficient or necessary for an organism to persist. Olson rejects several famous (...) thought-experiments dealing with personal identity. He argues, instead, that one could survive the destruction of all of one's psychological contents and capabilities as long as the human organism remains alive--as long as its vital functions, such as breathing, circulation, and metabolism, continue. (shrink)
From the time of Locke, discussions of personal identity have often ignored the question of our basic metaphysical nature: whether we human people are biological organisms, spatial or temporal parts of organisms, bundles of perceptions, or what have you. The result of this neglect has been centuries of wild proposals and clashing intuitions. What Are We? is the first general study of this important question. It beings by explaining what the question means and how it differs from others, such as (...) questions of personal identity and the mind-body problem. It then examines in some depth the main possible accounts of our metaphysical nature, detailing both their theoretical virtues and the often grave difficulties they face. The book does not endorse any particular account of what we are, but argues that the matter turns on more general issues in the ontology of material things. If composition is universal--if any material things whatever make up something bigger--then we are temporal parts of organisms. If things never compose anything bigger, so that there are only mereological simples, then we too are simples--perhaps the immaterial substances of Descartes--or else we do not exist at all (a view Olson takes very seriously). The intermediate view that some things compose bigger things and others do not leads almost inevitably to the conclusion that we are organisms. So we can discover what we are by working out when composition occurs. (shrink)
This article discusses connections between grounded action, leverage points, and paradigm transformation and transcendence. Part one provides background on Meadows' (1999) approach to leverage points as well as the concept of paradigms. Part two argues that grounded action is inherently suited for leverage points analysis and paradigm-based interventions. Part three offers an example of individual paradigm transformation in the educational context vis-à-vis Olson's (2006) grounded theory of driven succeeding. The article concludes with considerations of how the application of grounded (...) action in one classroom might leverage system-wide paradigm transformation. (shrink)
This work presents a dialogue between classical and contemporary Indian and postmodern thinkers. Juxtaposing the diverse perspectives of Indian philosophers and philosophies, including Buddhism, Sankara, and Radhakrishnan, and western postmodern thinkers such as Lacan and Derrida, Olson addresses topics such as desire, suffering, the self, and identity.
Revisionists and traditionalists appeal to Acts 15, welcoming the Gentiles, for analogies directing the church's response to homosexual persons. John Perry has analyzed the major positions. He faults revisionists for inadequate attention to the Jerusalem Decree and faults one traditionalist for using the Decree literally rather than through analogy. I argue that analogical use of the Decree must supplement rather than displace the plain sense. The Decree has been neglected due to assumptions that Paul opposed it, that it expired, or (...) because Gentiles wanted non-kosher meat. I argue that Paul continued to observe the Torah and supported the Decree, that it has not expired, and that Gentile desire for non-kosher meat is not a firm obstacle. Affirming the plain sense of the Decree, I develop the analogy from Acts 15 to homosexual persons. One strand of the church's conversation about homosexuality compares present-day acceptance of homosexuals to the church's acceptance of Gentiles in Acts 15. In a previous article, "Gentiles and Homosexuals," I presented the history of that strand. In a reply to my article, Olson proposes to reimagine the analogy via the "radical new perspective on Paul" and argues that doing so exposes problems with my original analysis. I defend myself against these criticisms, while also entering into the spirit of Olson's reimagined analogy. Expanding the scope beyond Acts to Paul opens up important facets that might otherwise be obscured. In particular, it includes voices that are sometimes silenced, and presses both sides for an account of sexuality grounded in vocation and God's purposes in creation. (shrink)
This book consists of fifteen new essays and an introduction by Zimmerman. Most of the authors are Christian philosophers in the ‘analytic’ tradition, and the book is of particular interest to readers of that sort; but there is nothing here that will interest only Christians. As the title suggests, all the essays have at least something to do with persons as such, and most deal with metaphysical issues. Beyond that they are pretty disparate. Seven papers are on substance dualism or (...) idealism, which get a more sympathetic hearing than current fashion would dictate. Lynn Rudder Baker, Hud Hudson, and Peter van Inwagen discuss materialist accounts of human people that they have developed elsewhere. There are papers on specifically Christian doctrines--immortality, divine incarnation, the trinity, and original sin--and one on the value of human people by Philip Quinn. For better or worse, there is almost no discussion of the existence of God. Even so, no one can accuse the authors of avoiding the big questions and retreating to narrow, technical issues. There is as much at stake in these essays as there is in any work of Plato or Kant. (shrink)
The view that we are human animals, "animalism", is deeply unpopular. This paper explains what that claim says and why it is so contentious. It then argues that those who deny it face an awkward choice. They must either deny that there are any human animals, deny that human animals can think, or deny that we are the thinking things located where we are.
One of the main problems of personal identity is supposed to be how we relate to our bodies. A few philosophers endorse what is called a 'bodily criterion of personal identity': they say that we are our bodies, or at any rate that our identity over time consists in the identity of our bodies. Many more deny this--typically on the grounds that we can imagine ourselves coming apart from our bodies. But both sides agree that the bodily criterion is an (...) important view which anyone thinking about personal identity must consider. (shrink)
Personal identity deals with questions about ourselves qua people (or persons). Many of these questions are familiar ones that occur to everyone at some time: What am I? When did I begin? What will happen to me when I die? Discussions of personal identity go right back to the origins of Western philosophy, and most major figures have had something to say about it. (There is also a rich literature on personal identity in Eastern philosophy, which I am not competent (...) to discuss. Collins 1982 is a good source.). (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker argues that the functionalist theory of mind entails a psychological-continuity view of personal identity, as well as providing a defense of that view against a crucial objection. I show that his view has surprising consequences, e.g. that no organism could have mental properties and that a thing's mental properties fail to supervene even weakly on its microstructure and surroundings. I then argue that the view founders on "fission" cases and rules out our being material things. Functionalism tells us (...) little if anything about personal identity. (shrink)
The apparent fact that each of us coincides with a thinking animal looks like a strong argument for our being animals (animalism). Some critics, however, claim that this sort of reasoning actually undermines animalism. According to them, the apparent fact that each human animal coincides with a thinking body that is not an animal is an equally strong argument for our not being animals. I argue that the critics' case fails for reasons that do not affect the case for animalism.
Perhaps we should begin with this question: What is the “problem of free will”? Like those other great “problem” phrases that philosophers bandy about, “the mind-body problem,” “the problem of universals,” and “the problem of evil,” this phrase has no clear referent. There are obviously a lot of philosophical problems about free will, but which of them, or which combination of them, is the problem of free will? I will propose an answer to this question, but this proposal can be (...) no more than just that, a proposal. I propose that we understand the problem of free will to be the following problem. (shrink)
Animalism is the view that you and I are animals. That is, we are animals in the straightforward sense of having the property of being an animal, or in that each of us is identical to an animal-not merely in the derivative sense of having animal bodies, or of being "constituted by" animals. And by 'animal' I mean an organism of the animal kingdom." Sensible though it may appear, animalism is highly contentious. The most common objection is that it conflicts (...) with widespread and deep beliefs about our identity over time. These beliefs are brought out in reactions to fictional cases. Suppose, for instance, that your brain is transplanted into my head. The being who ends up with that organ, everyone assumes, will remember your life and not mine. More generally, he will have your beliefs, preferences, plans, and other mental properties, for the most part at least. Who would he be-you, me, or someone else? (shrink)
This paper is about the neglected question of what sort of things we are metaphysically speaking. It is different from the mind-body problem and from familiar questions of personal identity. After explaining what the question means and how it differs from others, the paper tries to show how difficult it is to give a satisfying answer.
Many philosophers say that time involves a kind of passage that distinguishes it from space. A traditional objection is that this passage would have to occur at some rate, yet we cannot say what the rate would be. The paper argues that the real problem with time’s passage is different: time would have to pass at one second per second, yet this is not a rate of change. This appears to refute decisively not only the view that time passes, but (...) any tensed theory of time. (shrink)
The extended-mind thesis says that mental states can extend beyond one’s skin. Clark and Chalmers infer from this that the subjects of such states also extend beyond their skin: the extended-self thesis. The paper asks what exactly the extended-self thesis says, whether it really does follow from the extended-mind thesis, and what it would mean if it were true. It concludes that the extended-self thesis is unattractive, and does not follow from the extended mind unless thinking beings are literally bundles (...) of mental states. (shrink)
Because there is no agreed use of the term 'self', or characteristic features or even paradigm cases of selves, there is no idea of "the self" to figure in philosophical problems. The term leads to troubles otherwise avoidable; and because legitimate discussions under the heading of 'self' are really about other things, it is gratuitous. I propose that we stop speaking of selves.
The prosaic content of these sayings is that events change from future to present and from present to past. Your next birthday is in the future, but with the passage of time it draws nearer and nearer until it is present. 24 hours later it will be in the past, and then lapse forever deeper into history. And things get older: even if they don’t wear out or lose their hair or change in any other way, their chronological age is (...) always increasing. These changes are universal and inescapable: no event could ever fail to be first future, then present, then past, and no persisting thing can avoid growing older. We call this process time’s passage. (shrink)
Michael Smith has recently argued that non-cognitivists are unable to accommodate crucial structural features of moral belief, and in particular that non-cognitivists have trouble accounting for subjects' certitude with respect to their moral beliefs. James Lenman and Michael Ridge have independently constructed 'ecumenical' versions of non-cognitivism, intended to block this objection. We argue that these responses do not work. If ecumenical non-cognitivism, a hybrid view which incorporates both non-cognitivist and cognitivist elements, fails to meet Smith's challenge, it is unlikely that (...) 'purer' and more familiar versions of non-cognitivism will succeed. (shrink)
What is a temporal part? Most accounts explain it in terms of timeless parthood: a thing's having a part without temporal qualification. Some find this hard to understand, and thus find the view that persisting things have temporal parts—four-dimensionalism—unintelligible. T. Sider offers to help by defining temporal parthood in terms of a thing's having a part at a time. I argue that no such account can capture the notion of a temporal part that figures in orthodox four-dimensionalism: temporal parts must (...) be timeless parts. This enables us to state four-dimensionalism more clearly. (shrink)
The Standard View of personal identity says that someone who exists now can exist at another time only if there is continuity of her mental contents or capacities. But no person is psychologically continuous with a fetus, for a fetus, at least early in its career, has no mental features at all. So the Standard View entails that no person was ever a fetus--contrary to the popular assumption that an unthinking fetus is a potential person. It is also mysterious what (...) does ordinarily happen to a human fetus, if it does not come to be a person. Although an extremely complex variant of the Standard View may allow one to persist without psychological continuity before one becomes a person but not afterwards, a far simpler solution is to accept a radically non-psychological account of our identity. (shrink)
Cartesian or substance dualism is the view that concrete substances come in two basic kinds. There are material things, such as biological organisms. These may be either simple or composed of parts. And there are immaterial things--minds or souls--which are always simple. No material thing depends for its existence on any soul, or vice versa. And only souls can think.
Suppose we take a pound of gold and mold it into the shape of Hermes. Then, it would seem, we shall have a golden statue of Hermes, beautiful to behold. We shall also have a lump of gold. And we have the makings of a well-known philosophical puzzle. Many people find it obvious that if we crushed the statue or melted it down, we should destroy the statue but not the lump of gold. The lump can be deformed and still (...) continue to exist, but the statue cannot; that is the nature of lumps and statues. So the lump can outlive the statue. Since nothing can outlive itself, it is natural to conclude that the one-pound gold statue and the one-pound lump of gold in our example are numerically different. And as statues are to lumps, they say, so are brick houses to heaps of bricks, living organisms to masses of matter, and people to their bodies. More generally, certain atoms (or elementary particles or what have you) often compose two numerically different material objects at once. To put it another way, two different material objects may have all the same proper parts (the same parts except themselves) at once.  Because of its many defenders and its intuitive attraction, I will call this the Popular View about lumps and statues and other familiar material objects. (shrink)
Personal identity deals with the many philosophical questions about ourselves that arise by virtue of our being people. The most frequently discussed is what it takes for a person to persist through time. Many philosophers say that we persist by virtue of psychological continuity. Others say that our persistence is determined by brute physical facts, and psychology is irrelevant. In choosing among these answers we must consider not only what they imply about who is who in particular cases, both real (...) and imaginary, but also their implications about our metaphysical nature in general. (shrink)
In this essay I explore the idea that the solution to some important problems of personal identity lies in the philosophy of language: more precisely in the nature of first-person reference. I will argue that the “linguistic solution” is at best partly successful.
The Epicurean view is that there is nothing bad about death, and we are wrong to loathe it. This paper distinguishes several different such views, and shows that while some of them really would undermine our loathing of death, others would not. It then argues that any version that did so could be at best vacuously true: If there is nothing bad about death, that can only be because there is nothing bad about anything.
The use of the term "applied ethics" to denote a particular field of moral inquiry (distinct from but related to both normative ethics and meta-ethics) is a relatively new phenomenon. The individuation of applied ethics as a special division of moral investigation gathered momentum in the 1970s and 1980s, largely as a response to early twentieth- century moral philosophy's overwhelming concentration on moral semantics and its apparent inattention to practical moral problems that arose in the wake of significant social and (...) technological transformations. The field of applied ethics is now a well established, professional domain sustained by institutional research centers, professional academic appointments, and devoted journals. As the field of applied ethics grew and developed, its contributors predominantly advocated consequentialist and deontological approaches to the problems they address; but lately a significant number of moral philosophers have begun to bring the resources of virtue ethics to bear upon the ever-evolving subject matters of applied ethics. (shrink)
According to T.M. Scanlon's buck-passing account of value, to be valuable is not to possess intrinsic value as a simple and unanalysable property, but rather to have other properties that provide reasons to take up an attitude in favour of their owner or against it. The 'wrong kind of reasons' objection to this view is that we may have reasons to respond for or against something without this having any bearing on its value. The challenge is to explain why such (...) reasons are of the wrong kind. This is what I set out to do, after illustrating the objection more thoroughly. (shrink)
According to T. M. Scanlon's 'buck-passing' analysis of value, x is good means that x has properties that provide reasons to take up positive attitudes vis-à-vis x. Some authors have claimed that this idea can be traced back to Franz Brentano, who said in 1889 that the judgement that x is good is the judgement that a positive attitude to x is correct ('richtig'). The most discussed problem in the recent literature on buckpassing is known as the 'wrong kind of (...) reason' problem (the WKR problem): it seems quite possible that there is sometimes reason to favour an object although that object is not good and possibly very evil. The problem is to delineate exactly what distinguishes reasons of the right kind from reasons of the wrong kind. In this paper we offer a Brentano-style solution. We also note that one version of the WKR problem was put forward by G. E. Moore in his review of the English translation of Brentano's Vom Ursprung sittlicher Erkenntnis. Before getting to how our Brentano-style approach might offer a way out for Brentano and the buck-passers, we briefly consider and reject an interesting attempt to solve the WKR problem recently proposed by John Skorupski. (shrink)
Cognitivism is the view that the primary function of moral judgements is to express beliefs that purport to say how things are; expressivism is the contrasting view that their primary function is to express some desire-like state of mind. I shall consider what I call the freshman objection to expressivism. It is pretty uncontroversial that this objection rests on simple misunderstandings. There are nevertheless interesting metaethical lessons to learn from the fact that the freshman objection is prevalent among undergraduates and (...) non-philosophers. It leaves for expressivists two awkward explanatory tasks. Number one is that of explaining why natural selection – which, by expressivism's own lights, favoured moral thought and talk because of their socially useful regulative and coordinating functions – did not favour a stance that would make moral thought and talk more effective in fulfilling these functions. Number two is that of explaining how moral thought and talk survive in cultural evolution, despite the prevalence of the freshman objection and related worries. I conclude that expressivism as a theory of actual moral discourse rather than a revisionist theory is either false or committed to an implausible error theory, according to which ordinary speakers are systematically mistaken about what they are up to when they make moral judgements. (shrink)
In The Moral Problem Michael Smith presents what he claims is a decisive argument against moral externalism. Smith's claims that (i) moral externalists are committed to explain the connection between moral beliefs and moral motivation in terms of de dicto desires, and (ii) de dicto desires to perform moral acts amounts to moral fetishism. The argument is spelled out and the difference between desires de dicto and desires de re explained. The tenability of the fetishist argument (as it has been (...) named) is then questioned by focusing on the second clause; contrary to what Smith seems to think, it seems a plausible description of a good moral person that she is often motivated by both kinds of desires and, moreover, there are ways of being motivated to perform moral acts solely by de dicto desires that would not amount to moral fetishism. Lastly, two cases are suggested where being motivated by de dicto desires to perform moral acts would be reasonable as well as morally preferable. Internalists then, should also provide room for de dicto desires in moral motivation.The upshot is that the fetishist argument is unconvincing, though no attempt is made to defend moral externalism in general. (shrink)
If we are neither animals nor material things constituted by animals, we might be parts of animals. This chapter is devoted to the view that we are spatial parts of animals; the next asks whether we are temporal parts. The only spatial parts of animals that I can think of any reason to suppose we might be are brains, or something like brains--parts of brains or perhaps entire central nervous sytems. Call the view that we are something like brains the (...) brain view. (shrink)