The Survival of Sentient Beings

Dissertation, The University of British Columbia (Canada) (2000)

John Inglis
York University
This thesis is concerned with the metaphysical question of in what our survival consists. To survive in the sense to be explored herein is for there to be future experiences about which one should be egoistically concerned. I focus on one's survival as a sentient being, a being capable of having experiences but possibly lacking some of the attributes of a person. ;There are two categories into which metaphysical theories of survival fall: reductionist theories and nonreductionist theories. I argue that theories of the former type conflict with our deeply-held and well-justified beliefs about our survival. Reductionist theories cannot explain why one should be specially concerned about certain future experiences. ;If survival cannot be analyzed in reductionist terms, then we cannot fully refute skepticism about our survival over time. However, as nonreductionist alternatives to skepticism, I briefly consider the traditional substance view and a view according to which one's survival consists in the continuation of one's stream of consciousness. I conclude by briefly enumerating the difficulties that this latter view would have to meet
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