How to Live Forever Without Saving Your Soul: Physicalism and Immortality
Merricks (Trenton)
Source: Corcoran - Soul, Body and Survival, Chapter 11
Paper - Abstract

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  1. In "How to Live Forever without Saving Your Soul" Trenton Merricks responds to worries about how a wholly and purely physical person, a human animal2, who utterly ceased to exist could possibly come back into existence at a later date. After criticizing the two most familiar responses, Merricks develops his own bold response. Merricks believes that objections to the possibility of survival by way of resurrection rely either:-
    • on the assumption that there are criteria of personal identity over time which rule out the possibility of temporal gaps in a person's existence, or
    • on the notion that temporal gaps of the sort required for resurrection are just impossible.
  2. As to the latter, it has seemed self-evident to some philosophers that identity supposes continuous, uninterrupted existence. Gaps in the existence of a thing would entail that a thing can exist before it begins to exist, which is absurd. But Merricks makes a plea for metaphysical modesty when it comes to the fruits of modal4 intuition. He thus dismisses claims of the form "temporal gaps of the sort implied by resurrection are simply impossible" as the product of an overweening confidence in one's modal5 intuition. Modesty is more becoming.
  3. As for the former assumption, building on his previous work on criteria of identity over time, Merricks claims that there are no criteria of personal identity over time. So all criterion-based worries and arguments against the possibility of resurrection dissipate. In the end Merricks offers reasons of his own for believing in the possibility of resurrection for wholly physical persons, frankly admitting that if resurrection occurs, it's going to take a miracle.


Section III: Does Life After Death6 Require Dualism

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Corcoran (Kevin) - Soul, Body and Survival: Introduction - Soul or Body?", p. 9.

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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