Among your closest associates is a certain human animal – a living, breathing, organism. You see it when you look in the mirror. When it is sick, you don't feel too well. Where it goes, you go. And, one thinks, where you go, it must follow. Indeed, you can make it move through sheer force of will. You bear, in short, an important and intimate relation to this, your animal. So too rest of us with our animals. Animalism says that (...) this relation is nothing short of identity. According to animalists, we do not only coincide with or constitute or inhabit or otherwise hang out with these close associates, our animals: we are them. In this article, I offer an opinionated take on what animalism might be and situate it against contemporary rivals. Then, I outline a simple case for animalism. Finally, I sketch non-standard routes for animalists to take in light of standard challenges. My goal in all of this is to open up some new avenues of animalist thinking. (shrink)
One might well wonder—is there a category under which every thing falls? Offering an informative account of such a category is no easy task. For nothing would distinguish things that fall under it from those that don’t—there being, after all, none of the latter. It seems hard, then, to say much about any fully general category; and it would appear to do no carving or categorizing or dividing at all. Nonetheless there are candidates for such a fully general office, including (...) thing, being, entity, item, existent, and—especially—object.[ It is not obvious that there is any fully general category (whether object or otherwise). Accordingly, not all accounts of object assign it to a fully general category, instead allowing that there are non-objects. On those views, object does indeed divide. Accounts of object, then, differ with respect to whether there are non-objects. And this is not the only fault line. Other dimensions of difference include what objects there are and what objects are. Accordingly, this entry will survey three broad questions about the category object: What, if any, is its contrast or complement? What is its extension? What is its nature? (shrink)
The animalist says we are animals. This thesis is commonly understood as the universal generalization that all human persons are human animals. This article proposes an alternative: the thesis is a generic that admits of exceptions. We defend the resulting view, which we call ‘generic animalism’, and show its aptitude for diagnosing the limits of eight case-based objections to animalism.
There are predicates and subjects. It is thus tempting to think that there are properties on the one hand, and things that have them on the other. I have no quarrel with this thought; it is a fine place to begin a theory of properties and property-having. But in this paper, I argue that one such theory—bare particularism—is false. I pose a dilemma. Either bare particulars instantiate the properties of their host substances or they do not. If they do not, (...) then bare particularism is both unmotivated and false. If they do, then the view faces a problematic—and, I shall argue, false—crowding consequence. (shrink)
Materialists about human persons think that we are material through and through—wholly material beings. Those who endorse materialism more widely think that everything is material through and through. But what is it to be wholly material? In this article, I answer that question. I identify and defend a definition or analysis of ‘wholly material’.
I introduce and argue for a Priority Principle, according to which we exemplify certain of our mental properties in the primary or non-derivative sense. I then apply this principle to several debates in the metaphysics and philosophy of mind.
Animalism is at once a bold metaphysical theory and a pedestrian biological observation. For according to animalists, human persons are organisms; we are members of a certain biological species. In this article, I introduce some heretofore unnoticed data concerning the interlocking interests of human persons and human organisms. I then show that the data support animalism. The result is a novel and powerful argument for animalism. Bold or pedestrian, animalism is true.
Here's an interesting question: what are we? David Barnett has claimed that reflection on consciousness suggests an answer: we are simple. Barnett argues that the mereological simplicity of conscious beings best explains the Datum: that no pair of persons can itself be conscious. In this paper, I offer two alternative explanations of the Datum. If either is correct, Barnett's argument fails. First, there aren't any such things as pairs of persons. Second, consciousness is maximal; no conscious thing is a proper (...) part of another conscious thing. I conclude by showing how both moves comport with materialist theories of what we are and then apply them to another anti-materialist argument. (shrink)
Animalism is the view that we are animals: living, breathing, wholly material beings. Despite its considerable appeal, animalism has come under fire. Other philosophers have had much to say about objections to animalism that stem from reflection on personal identity over time. But one promising objection (the `Elimination Argument') has been overlooked. In this paper, I remedy this situation and examine the Elimination Argument in some detail. I contend that the Elimination Argument is both unsound and unmotivated.
Many say that ontological disputes are defective because they are unimportant or without substance. In this paper, we defend ontological disputes from the charge, with a special focus on disputes over the existence of composite objects. Disputes over the existence of composite objects, we argue, have a number of substantive implications across a variety of topics in metaphysics, science, philosophical theology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. Since the disputes over the existence of composite objects have these substantive implications, they are (...) themselves substantive. (shrink)
According to theists, God is an immaterial thinking being. The main question of this article is whether theism supports the view that we are immaterial thinking beings too. I shall argue in the negative. Along the way, I will also explore some implications in the philosophy of mind following from the observation that, on theism, God’s mentality is in a certain respect magical.
For good or for ill, we have animal bodies. Through them, we move around, eat and drink, and do many other things besides. We owe much – perhaps our very lives – to these ever-present animals. But how exactly do we relate to our animals? Are we parts of them, or they of us? Do we and these living animals co-inhere or constitute or coincide? Or what? Animalism answers that we are identical to them. There are many objections to animalism, (...) and a dizzying array of rival views. In this article, we do not propose to evaluate those objections and rivals. We will instead present a new argument for that view. The argument begins with the fact that we have emotions. (shrink)
Some incompatibilists about free will or moral responsibility and determinism would abandon their incompatibilism were they to learn that determinism is true. But is it reasonable to flip-flop in this way? In this article, we contend that it is and show what follows. The result is both a defense of a particular incompatibilist strategy and a general framework for assessing other cases of flip-flopping.
Materialists about human persons say that we are, and must be, wholly material beings. Substance dualists say that we are, and must be, wholly immaterial. In this paper, I take issue with the “and must be” bits. Both materialists and substance dualists would do well to reject modal extensions of their views and instead opt for contingent doctrines, or doctrines that are silent about those modal extensions. Or so I argue.
Many have thought that there is a problem with causal commerce between immaterial souls and material bodies. In Physicalism or Something Near Enough, Jaegwon Kim attempts to spell out that problem. Rather than merely posing a question or raising a mystery for defenders of substance dualism to answer or address, he offers a compelling argument for the conclusion that immaterial souls cannot causally interact with material bodies. We offer a reconstruction of that argument that hinges on two premises: Kim’s Dictum (...) and the Nowhere Man principle. Kim’s Dictum says that causation requires a spatial relation. Nowhere Man says that souls can’t be in space. By our lights, both premises can be called into question. We’ll begin our evaluation of the argument by pointing out some consequences of Kim’s Dictum. For some, these will be costs. We will then present two defeaters for Kim’s Dictum and a critical analysis of Kim’s case for Nowhere Man. The upshot is that Kim’s argument against substance dualism fails. (shrink)
There is a new objection to the Consequence Argument for incompatibilism. I argue that the objection is more wide-ranging than originally thought. In particular: if it tells against the Consequence Argument, it tells against other arguments for incompatibilism too. I survey a few ways of dealing with this objection and show the costs of each. I then present an argument for incompatibilism that is immune to the objection and that enjoys other advantages.
Some strange cases have gripped philosophers of mind. They have been deployed against materialism about human persons, functionalism about mentality, the possibility of artificial intelligence, and more. In this paper, I cry “foul”. It’s not hard to think that there’s something wrong with the cases. But what? My proposal: their proponents ignore questions about composition. And ignoring composition is a mistake. Indeed, materialists about human persons, functionalists about mentality, and believers in the possibility of artificial intelligence can plausibly deploy moderate (...) theories of composition in defense of their views. And as it turns out, these strange cases are an interesting source of evidence for moderate theories of composition. (shrink)
Substance dualism is on the move. Though the view remains unfashionable, a growing and diverse group of philosophers endorse it on impressive empirical, religious, and purely metaphysical grounds. In this note, I develop and evaluate one conceptual argument for substance dualism. According to that argument, we may derive a conclusion about our nature from the mere fact that we have the concept of a spirit. The argument is intriguing and fruitful; but I shall contend that it is, nonetheless, unsound.
We uncover a surprising discovery about the basis of thoughts. We begin by giving some plausible axioms about thoughts and their grounds. We then deduce a theorem, which has dramatic ramifications for the basis of all thoughts. The theorem implies that thoughts cannot come deterministically from any purely “thoughtless” states. We expect this result to be too dramatic for many philosophers. Hence, we proceed to investigate the prospect of giving up the axioms. We show that each axiom’s negation itself has (...) dramatic consequences that should be of interest to philosophers of mind. Our proof of the theorem provides a new guiderail for thinking about the nature and origin of thoughts. (shrink)
In this article, we describe what cryptocurrency is, how it works, and how it relates to familiar conceptions of and questions about money. We then show how normative questions about monetary policy find new expression in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. These questions can play a role in addressing not just what money is, but what it should be. A guiding theme in our discussion is that progress here requires a mixed approach that integrates philosophical tools with the purely technical results (...) of disciplines like computer science and economics. Note: this article is the first entry within a two-part sequence on the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics of Cryptocurrency. (shrink)
Here is a question as intriguing as it is brief: what are we? The animalist’s answer is equal in brevity: we are animals. This stark formulation of the animalist slogan distances it from nearby claims—that we are essentially animals, for example, or that we have purely biological criteria of identity over time. Is the animalist slogan—unburdened by modal or criterial commitments—still interesting, though? Or has it lost its bite? In this article we address such questions by presenting a positive case (...) for the importance of animalism and applying that case to recent critiques. (shrink)
In this article, we identify three key design dimensions along which cryptocurrencies differ -- privacy, censorship-resistance, and consensus procedure. Each raises important normative issues. Our discussion uncovers new ways to approach the question of whether Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies should be used as money, and new avenues for developing a positive answer to that question. A guiding theme is that progress here requires a mixed approach that integrates philosophical tools with the purely technical results of disciplines like computer science and (...) economics. Note: this article is the second entry within a two-part sequence on the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics of Cryptocurrency. (shrink)
Some have it that wholes are, somehow, identical to their parts. This doctrine is as alluring as it is puzzling. But in this paper, I show that the doctrine is inconsistent with two widely accepted theses. Something has to go.
Aristotle famously held that objects are comprised of matter and form. That is the central doctrine of hylomorphism (sometimes rendered “hylemorphism”—hyle, matter; morphe, form), and the view has become a live topic of inquiry today. Contemporary proponents of the doctrine include Jeffrey Brower, Kit Fine, David Hershenov, Mark Johnston, Kathrin Koslicki, Anna Marmodoro, Michael Rea, and Patrick Toner, among others. In the wake of these contemporary hylomorphic theories the doctrine has seen application to various topics within mainstream analytic metaphysics. Here, (...) appeals to form and matter are used to shed light on problems about ontology, personal identity, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of religion. The current entry documents this resurgence of interest in hylomorphism, the ways it has been applied, and its reception. (shrink)
We investigate the value of persons. Our primary goal is to chart a path from equal and extreme value to infinite value. We advance two arguments. Each argument offers a reason to think that equal and extreme value are best accounted for if we are infinitely valuable. We then raise some difficult but fruitful questions about the possible grounds or sources of our infinite value, if we indeed have such value.
Paul Krugman and others deny that bitcoin has legitimate uses. Critics like Krugman also fail to distinguish bitcoin from other cryptocurrencies. But once we isolate bitcoin from the rest of the field, we see how special, and how useful, it is. In this chapter, we explain why bitcoin is unique among cryptocurrencies as a credibly neutral monetary asset and why this is important. Its uniqueness doesn’t owe entirely to its age (as the oldest) or market ranking (as the most valuable). (...) As a credibly neutral monetary asset, bitcoin solves problems for those in less than ideal circumstances. And beyond bitcoin’s functionality, its origin and surrounding culture also help to explain why people trust bitcoin more than any other cryptocurrency to solve these problems. Nothing else comes close. This gap between bitcoin and everything else has implications for policy-making, journalism, and academic research. (shrink)
Arguments for substance dualism—the theory that we are at least partly non-material beings—abound. Many such arguments begin with our capacity to engage in conscious thought and end with dualism. Such are familiar. But there is another route to dualism. It begins with our moral value and ends with dualism. In this article, we develop and assess the prospects for this new style of argument. We show that, though one extant version of the argument does not succeed, there may yet be (...) a deep problem for standard physical accounts of our nature. (shrink)
The main question of this short monograph is how the existence, supremacy, and uniqueness of an almighty and immaterial God bear on our own nature. It aims to uncover lessons about what we are by thinking about what God might be. A dominant theme is that Abrahamic monotheism is a surprisingly hospitable framework within which to defend and develop the view that we are wholly material beings. But the resulting materialism cannot be of any standard variety. It demands revisions and (...) twists on the usual views. We can indeed learn about ourselves by learning about God. One thing we learn is that, though we are indeed wholly material beings, we’re not nearly as ordinary as we might seem. (shrink)
Warrant is what fills the gap between mere true belief and knowledge. But a problem arises. Is there just one condition that satisfies this description? Suppose there isn’t: can anything interesting be said about warrant after all? Call this the uniqueness problem. In this paper, I solve the problem. I examine one plausible argument that there is no one condition filling the gap between mere true belief and knowledge. I then motivate and formulate revisions of the standard analysis of warrant. (...) Given these revisions, I argue that there is, after all, exactly one warrant condition. (shrink)
In this article, we develop and defend a new argument for animalism -- the thesis that we human persons are human animals. The argument takes this rough form: since our pets are animals, we are too. We’ll begin with remarks on animalism and its rivals, develop our main argument, and then defend it against a few replies.