Survival
Brennan (Andrew)
Source: Synthese June 1984; 59: 339-362
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. The paper sets out to explore the conditions under which item "a" survives1 in (or as) item "b".
  2. Using Dennett's telecloning2 fantasy it is shown that if people survive3 the teleclone4, so do other things and that preservation of structure is crucial to such survival5.
  3. Strengthening the account of survival6 yields an account of replication7 and of the conditions under which "a" and "b" count as tokens of the same type.
  4. The theory suggests a way round the Platonism about persons, and other things, which might seem to follow from Parfit8's account of personal survival9.

Author’s Abstract
  1. In an earlier paper10, I suggested that one way of making sense of the claim that certain kinds of resurrection11 may be as good as survival12 is to distinguish between persons as types and persons as tokens.
  2. If resurrection13 of the sort suggested by Parfit14 were to occur, then exact replicas of people now alive would be constructed by God to serve as their representatives, so to speak, at the Great Day of Judgment.
  3. Clearly, there are pressures on us to regard such replicas as not identical with those whose replicas they are. Yet, for Parfit15, the emergence of a replica of this sort is as good as survival16.
  4. This proposal, focusing on the notion of survival17, has the benefit of side-stepping many of the difficult issues surrounding the notion of identity. For all that, it is not clear how much sense we can make of the idea of survival18, until we are clear what it is for something to survive19 in – or as – another thing, and what the nature of the surviving item is.
  5. My previous suggestion was simply that the type-token distinction is one way of making sense of the Parfit20 claim. My replica at the Great Day of Judgment is another token of the person type, one token of which is writing this paper now. Such a distinction between type and token persons fits in nicely with currently popular conceptions of persons as software for software itself is something which admits of a type-token distinction21.
  6. In this paper, I want to show that persons are by no means alone in permitting a type-token distinction. Having established by reference to apparently innocuous thought experiments22 that the distinction can be made to apply to any kind of object at all, it is prudent to review the sort of metaphysical mess the supposition threatens to land us in. I conclude by showing one not entirely satisfactory way out of the mess.



In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 10: See "Brennan (Andrew) - Personal Identity and Personal Survival".

Footnote 14: See "Parfit (Derek) - On 'The Importance of Self-Identity'".

Footnote 21: See the selection in part IV, 'Mind as Program', of "Hofstadter (Douglas) & Dennett (Daniel), Eds. - The Mind's I - Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul", 1981.


Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  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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