Among the questions to be raised under the heading of “personal identity” are these: “What are we?” (fundamental nature question) and “Under what conditions do we persist through time?” (persistence question). Against the dominant neo-Lockean approach to these questions, the view known as animalism answers that each of us is an organism of the species Homo sapiens and that the conditions of our persistence are those of animals. Beyond describing the content and historical background of animalism and its rivals, this (...) entry explores some of the arguments for and objections to this controversial account of our nature and persistence. (shrink)
Analytic philosophy is once again in a methodological frame of mind. Nowhere is this more evident than in metaphysics, whose practitioners and historians are actively reflecting on the nature of ontological questions, the status of their answers, and the relevance of contributions both from other areas within philosophy (e.g., philosophical logic, semantics) and beyond (notably, the natural sciences). Such reflections are hardly new: the debate between Willard van Orman Quine and Rudolf Carnap about how to understand and resolve ontological questions (...) is widely seen as a turning point in 20th-century analytic philosophy. And indeed, this volume is occasioned by the fact that the deflationary approach advocated by Carnap that debate is once again attracting considerable interest and support. Containing ten original and previously unpublished essays by many of today's leading voices in metametaphysics, Ontology After Carnap aims both to deepen our understanding of Carnap's contributions to metaontology and to explore how this legacy might be mined for insights into the contemporary debate. Contributors: Richard Creath, Matti Eklund, Simon Evnine, Eli Hirsch, Thomas Hofweber, Kathrin Koslicki, Robert Kraut, Greg Lavers, Alan Sidelle, Amie Thomasson, Jessica Wilson & Stephen Biggs. (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.
The view known as animalism asserts that we are human animals—that each of us is an instance of the Homo sapiens species. The standard argument for this view is known as the thinking animal argument . But this argument has recently come under attack. So, here, a new argument for animalism is introduced. The animal ancestors argument illustrates how the case for animalism can be seen to piggyback on the credibility of evolutionary theory. Two objections are then considered and answered.
Despite widespread support for the claim that death can harm the one who dies, debate continues over how to rescue this harm thesis (HT) from Epicurus’s challenge. Disagreements focus on two of the three issues that any defense of HT must resolve: the subject of death’s harm and the timing of its injury. About the nature of death’s harm, however, a consensus has emerged around the view that death harms a subject (when it does) by depriving her of the goods (...) life would’ve afforded had she continued living. This deprivation view of death’s harm (DV) derives some of its credibility from the general deprivation theory of which it is an instance: mortal harm is subject to the same kind of analysis plausibly given of other non-mortal harms. Furthermore, note that the weak formulation of HT—asserting only that death can inflict harm, not that it always or necessarily does—accommodates the intuition that instances of rational suicide and justifiable euthanasia present cases in which death fails to harm. DV is equipped to explain how in these cases the harms involved in continued existence outweigh the goods of which death deprives the subject. I agree that suicide can be rational and that euthanasia can be justifiable. Likewise I accept both HT and DV as far as they go. But they do not go far enough. Specifically, I argue here that death harms even those who die as a result of rational suicide or justifiable euthanasia; that death’s harm is neither undifferentiated nor wholly contingent, but multifaceted and partly necessary; that the necessary part of death’s harm is distinctive, inflicting a peculiar restriction on the autonomy of one who dies; and, regarding the timing and subject issues, that this restriction harm is inflicted on the antemortem subject prior to her death. (shrink)
This paper reviews four leading strategies for addressing the problem of material constitution, along with some of the prominent objections faced by each approach. Sections include (1) "The Orthodox View: Coincident Objects," (2) "Dominant Kinds," (3) "Nihilism," (4) "Revising the Logic of Identity," and (5) "Future Research." Also included is an annotated bibliography.
After motivating the general problem of personal identity and considering several possible accounts, this entry reviews a variety of arguments for and against the animalist criterion of personal identity.
The rare condition known as dicephalus occurs when (prior to implantation) a zygote fails to divide completely, resulting in twins who are conjoined below the neck. Human dicephalic twins look like a two-headed person, with each brain supporting a distinct mental life. Jeff McMahan has recently argued that, because they instance two of us but only one animal, dicephalic twins provide a counterexample to the animalist's claim that each of us is identical with a human animal. To the contrary, I (...) argue that in cases of dicephalus it is obvious neither that there is one animal nor that there are two of us. Consequently, the animalist criterion does not straightforwardly apply to cases of dicephalus. I defend an account of dicephalus that is both sensitive to the complexity of twinning phenomena and not inconsistent with animalism. In my view, dicephalic twins are a borderline case of the concept HUMAN ANIMAL. I conclude with some speculative remarks concerning the normative import (if any) of my claim that dicephalic twins are a borderline case. (shrink)
This entry sketches the theory of personal identity that has come to be known as animalism. Animalism’s hallmark claim is that each of us is identical with a human animal. Moreover, animalists typically claim that we could not exist except as animals, and that the (biological) conditions of our persistence derive from our status as animals. Prominent advocates of this view include Michael Ayers, Eric Olson, Paul Snowdon, Peter van Inwagen, and David Wiggins.
A theory is disjunctive insofar as it distinguishes genuine from non-genuine cases of some phenomenon P on the grounds that no salient feature of cases of one type is common to cases of the other type. Genuine and non-genuine cases of P are, in this sense, fundamentally different. Those who advocate disjunctivist theories have (for the most part) been concerned with perception and perceptual knowledge. This entry outlines two such theories: the disjunctivist theory of experience (cf. Brewer, Hinton, Martin, Snowdon, (...) Travis) and the disjunctivist theory of appearances (McDowell). (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Quassim Cassam (1997) accepts the standard account of solidity, according to which, if S feels x as solid, then S feels x as an imediment to his movement. Recently, Martin Fricke and Paul Snowdon (2003) have presented a battery of counter-examples designed to show that S may feel x as solid and as exerting a pressure that supports or facilitates his movement. In this note, I defend the standard account against Fricke and Snowdon’s attack. Integral to this defense is (...) a distinction between two (sometimes overlapping) ways in which S may feel x as an impediment to his movement: as an influence on a movement state of S, or as an obstacle to the achievement of a goal that requires movement. After demonstrating the primacy of the former sense, I argue that Fricke and Snowdon’s counter-examples only undermine a version of the standard account that glosses ‘impediment’ as an obstacle to the achievement of a goal that requires movement. (shrink)