Persons as Biological Processes: A Bio-Processual Way Out of the Personal Identity Dilemma

In Daniel J. Nicholson & John Dupré (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 357-378 (2018)
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Human persons exist longer than a single moment in time; they persist through time. However, so far it has not been possible to make this natural and widespread assumption metaphysically comprehensible. The philosophical debate on personal identity is rather stuck in a dilemma: reductionist theories explain personal identity away, while non-reductionist theories fail to give any informative account at all. This chapter argues that this dilemma emerges from an underlying commitment, shared by both sides of in the debate, to an ontology which that gives the priority to static unchanging things. The claim defended here is that the dilemma of personal identity can be overcome if we acknowledge the biological nature of human persons and switch to a process- ontological framework that takes process and change to be ontologically primary. Human persons are biological higher-order processes, rather than things, and their identity conditions can be scientifically investigated.



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Anne Sophie Meincke (Spann)
University of Southampton

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