Olson's Embryo Problem
Hershenov (David)
Source: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 80, Number 4, December 01, 2002, pp. 502-511(10)
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Philosophers Index Abstract

    Eric Olson argues that psychological accounts of personal identity have a "fetus problem." If psychological continuity1 is essential to our identity across time then we would possess persistence conditions that rule out our each ever having existed as a mindless fetus. But Olson has his own fetus-like problem for he insists that we cease to exist when our brainstem fails. However, he gives an account of our origins that have us existing prior to the development of a functioning brainstem. This asymmetry is a problem not just for Olson, but shared by virtually all defenders of a brain death criterion.

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