A Challenge to Anti-Criterialism

Erkenntnis 79 (2):283-296 (2014)


Most theists believe that they will survive death. Indeed, they believe that any given person will survive death and persist into an afterlife while remaining the very same person. In light of this belief, one might ask: how—or, in virtue of what—do people survive death? Perhaps the most natural way to answer this question is by appealing to some general account of personal identity through time. That way one can say that people persist through the time of their death in the same way that people persist through time in general. Then the obvious question is: how—or, in virtue of what—do people persist through time in general? Many different answers to this question have been proposed. Some philosophers think that personal identity through time consists in something, such as psychological or biological continuity. They think that there are informative necessary and sufficient conditions—i.e., criteria—for personal identity through time. These philosophers are criterialists. Other philosophers are anti-criterialists. Anti-criterialists believe that people persist through time, but they deny that there are any informative criteria for personal identity through time. In this paper I develop a challenge to anti-criterialism. I begin by spelling out the commitments of anti-criterialism. Then I argue that there are good reasons for anyone to reject anti-criterialism. And then I argue that theists have special reasons to reject anti-criterialism (This is particularly important and noteworthy because a substantial portion of those who defend anti-criterialism are theists. Examples include [but may not be limited to] Trenton Merricks, Richard Swinburne, Joseph Butler, and Thomas Reid). I conclude that there is an informative criterion for personal identity through time and death, even if we haven’t heard of it yet

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Matt Duncan
Rhode Island College

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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Material Beings.Peter van Inwagen - 1990 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Material Beings.Peter Van Inwagen - 1990 - Cornell University Press.
Material Beings.Peter van Inwagen - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (3):701-708.

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Citations of this work

Animalism.Andrew M. Bailey - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (12):867-883.
I Think Therefore I Persist.Matt Duncan - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):740-756.
A Renewed Challenge to Anti-Criterialism.Matt Duncan - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (1):165-182.
A Defence of Anti-Criterialism.Simon Langford - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (5):613-630.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

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