Are we essentially persons? Olson, Baker, and a reply
DeGrazia (David)
Source: Philosophical Forum; Winter2002, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p101, 20p
Paper - Abstract

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Abstract 11

  1. Recently, Eric Olson and Lynne Rudder Baker have vigorously debated the question of our essence: What are we2, most fundamentally: human animals3, persons, or something else?
  2. After reconstructing Olson's critique of the standard view – according to which we are essentially persons and our identity over time consists in psychological continuity4 – I argue that Baker goes some distance towards meeting his challenge to account plausibly for the relationship between persons and human animals5.
  3. Then I contend that her version of the standard view has major difficulties: a "newborn problem"; a dubious ontology; and a problematic account of personal identity.

Abstract 2
  1. Discusses the fundamental essence of a person.
  2. Comments on the Standard View;
  3. Theories that define persons in terms of psychological capacities;
  4. Reply of Lynne Rudder Baker on the comments of Eric Olson to the Standard View;
  5. Criticism to Baker's view.

For my thoughts, Click here for Note.

Write-up6 (as at 02/11/2018 09:41:46): DeGrazia - Are We Essentially Persons?

  1. This write-up is (or will be) a review of "DeGrazia (David) - Are we essentially persons? Olson, Baker, and a reply".
  2. The Abstract7 is:-
    • Recently, Eric Olson and Lynne Rudder Baker have vigorously debated the question of our essence: What are we8, most fundamentally: human animals, persons, or something else?
    • After reconstructing Olson's critique of the standard view – according to which we are essentially persons and our identity over time consists in psychological continuity – I argue that Baker goes some distance towards meeting his challenge to account plausibly for the relationship between persons and human animals.
    • Then I contend that her version of the standard view has major difficulties: a "newborn problem"; a dubious ontology; and a problematic account of personal identity.



Sections9
  1. Introduction
  2. Olson’s Challenge to the Standard View
    • The Fetus Problem
    • The problematic relation between the person and the early human organism
    • The problematic relation between the person and your PVS successor
    • The problem of implying that we are not animals.
  3. Baker’s Reply to Olson’s Challenge
  4. A Critique of Baker’s View
    • The Newborn Problem
    • A Dubious Ontology
    • A Problematic View of Personal Identity
  5. Concluding Reflections



Bibliography Notes
  1. Introduction
    • Three distinct issues, the last brought to prominence by Olson & Baker:-
      1. What is the nature of personhood; ie. what is a person11?
      2. Personal Identity: what are the persistence conditions12 of persons over time?
      3. What is our essence? What are we13 most fundamentally: human animals, persons, or something else?
    • Olson contends that (what he calls) the Standard View (SV) of personal identity – which requires some kind of psychological continuity14 – has highly implausible implications.
    • Olson claims that the SV holds that we are essentially persons15, and instead posits that we are essentially (living16) human animals17, members of the species Homo sapiens18 with biological19 persistence conditions.
    • Olson claims that the SV has no plausible account of the relation between the person and the associated human animal. Baker – who accepts “person essentialism” seeks to provide this account with her Constitution View20. We human persons21 are constituted22 by, but are not identical to, human animals.
    • DeGrazia’s plan is to:-
      1. Reconstruct Olson’s critique of the SV
      2. Argue that Baker goes a long way towards meeting Olson’s challenge
      3. Contend that Baker’s CV23 nevertheless has three major difficulties:-
        1. The “newborn problem”
        2. A dubious ontology
        3. A problematic account of personal identity
  2. Olson’s Challenge to the Standard View
    • 2.1 The Fetus Problem
    • 2.2 The problematic relation between the person and the early human organism
    • 2.3 The problematic relation between the person and your PVS successor
    • 2.4 The problem of implying that we are not animals
  3. Baker’s Reply to Olson’s Challenge
  4. A Critique of Baker’s View
    • 4.1 The Newborn Problem
    • 4.2 A Dubious Ontology
    • 4.3 A Problematic View of Personal Identity
  5. 5. Concluding Reflections

→ Further details to be supplied24


In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Footnote 6: Footnote 7: Footnote 9: Footnote 10: Footnote 16:

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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