Substance concepts and personal identity

Philosophical Studies 150 (2):255-270 (2010)
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Abstract

According to one argument for Animalism about personal identity, animal , but not person , is a Wigginsian substance concept—a concept that tells us what we are essentially. Person supposedly fails to be a substance concept because it is a functional concept that answers the question “what do we do?” without telling us what we are. Since person is not a substance concept, it cannot provide the criteria for our coming into or going out of existence; animal , on the other hand, can provide such criteria. This argument has been defended by Eric Olson, among others. I argue that this line of reasoning fails to show Animalism to be superior to the Psychological Approach, for the following two reasons: (1) human animal , animal , and organism are all functional concepts, and (2) the distinction between what something is and what it does is illegitimate on the reading that the argument needs.

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Peter Nichols
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota

Citations of this work

Animalism.Andrew M. Bailey - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (12):867-883.
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The animal, the corpse, and the remnant-person.Andrea Sauchelli - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (1):205–218.
Embodied mind sparsism.Stuart Clint Dowland - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 173 (7):1853-1872.
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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Philosophical explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Material beings.Peter Van Inwagen - 1990 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

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