Thinking animals

Abstract

Many personal identity theorists claim that persons are distinct from the animals that constitute them, but when combined with the plausible assumption that animals share the thoughts of the persons they constitute, this denial results in an excess of thinkers and a host of related problems. I consider a number of non-animalist solutions to these problems and argue that they fail. I argue further that satisfactory non-animalist solutions are not forthcoming and that in order to avoid these problems we ought to affirm our identity with animals. I then discuss arguments to the effect that i) animalism faces its own problems of too many thinkers, arising from the non- identity of animals with thinking bodies and thinking body parts, and ii) that in order to avoid these problems we must deny not just that there are persons distinct from animals, but that there are bodies and body parts distinct from animals Once the second of these claims is granted, there is a short further step to the conclusion that there are no such things as body parts, and from there there is a direct route to eliminative animalism. Eliminative animalism denies not only that there are persons distinct from animals, but that there are any composite objects distinct from animals. This position has been gaining popularity recently, but I argue that we need not, and indeed should not, accept it. Although the problems of the thinking animal do commit us to animalism, the problems of thinking bodies and thinking body parts do not commit us to eliminate animalism

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