In Defense of Immaterial Persons
Moulder (James)
Source: Philosophical Papers 1972, 38-55
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. With the help of Strawson's conception of a person1 and Plato's first argument for immortality in the "Phaedo," I argue
    1. That we are not essentially material objects;
    2. That this is not equivalent to the claim that we are essentially immaterial objects; and
    3. That essentially we are persons who, as a matter of fact, but not of necessity, have corporeal characteristics.
  2. I want to discuss that conception of a person which Strawson calls "ours", in spite of it not being mine, which suggests that I am essentially something which has both states of consciousness and corporeal characteristics. I am essentially a particular kind of material object and not a particular kind of immaterial one.
  3. I will attempt to demonstrate that his conception of a person is open to objection on the grounds that it simply assumes that "I" is univocal. Furthermore, it panders to our prejudice in favour of material objects and our inclination towards anthropocentricity.
  4. I am most anxious to establish that the question of whether or not I am essentially something which has corporeal characteristics cannot be satisfactorily answered on a priori or semantic grounds.

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