Considerations in Favour of Eliminating Us?
Merricks (Trenton)
Source: Merricks - Objects and Persons, 2001, Chapter 5
Paper - Abstract

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I show that the arguments of Ch. 2, while giving good reasons to eliminate statues1 and other inanimate composita, do not provide equally good reasons to eliminate us human organisms. As with Ch. 2, the arguments discussed touch on a variety of topics, including vagueness and the 'Sorites2 Game,' worries about co-location and constitution, and the way a thinker (such as a person) is related to her brain.

  1. Persons and the Water in the Pool
  2. Persons and the Sorites3 Game
  3. Statues4, Lumps, and Persons
  4. Brains, Thinkers and Persons
  5. Conclusion:
    • This chapter responded to challenges to my claim that we exist and are human organisms. These challenges were not chosen randomly. They mimicked Chapter 2's considerations in favour of eliminativism. Chapter 2 gives reasons to deny the existence of statues5 (and of some other alleged macrophysical objects) which do not, we saw in this chapter, lead to equally good reasons to deny our existence as human organisms. Chapter 4's account of how persons avoid elimination by way of the Overdetermination Argument actually strengthened the Overdetermination Argument. For Chapter 4 showed that that argument's demands on composite objects were neither unrealistic nor impossible to satisfy. Persons satisfy them. Similarly, this chapter strengthens Chapter 2. For this chapter shows that Chapter 2 supports eliminating some material objects in a way that it does not support eliminating others.
    • Chapter 2 concluded on a modest note, emphasizing only the intelligibility of eliminativism and that eliminativism should be at least somewhat of a live option. We can now be less modest. Because of their discriminatory nature, Chapter 2's considerations offer considerable support for eliminativism.
    • This chapter and Chapter 2 constitute one strand of argument in support of my favoured ontology. A second, different strand of argument comprises Chapters 3 and 4. Thus we have two fairly independent and complementary defences of a statueless6 world populated by, among other things, us human organisms.

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