Animals, Babies, and Subjects
Campbell (Scott)
Source: Southern Journal of Philosophy, Summer 2001; 39(2): 157-167
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

    An argument against the psychological criterion1 of personal identity is that because it draws a distinction between a person and their body, it must treat persons as fundamentally different things than animals, because there is no such distinction to be made in the case of an animal. The paper argues that the psychological theorist should accept that animal subjects are not identical to their bodies either. This entails the existence of subjects which are distinct from bodies, but which lack self-consciousness2, high intelligence and moral agency. This conclusion is used to argue that psychological theorists can accept that babies are persons, and that you existed as a baby.
  1. Introduction
  2. The Psychological Theory
  3. The Animal Objection
  4. The ‘Animal Subjects’ Position
  5. The Psychological Theory and Babies
  6. Non-person Subjects in Human Bodies
    • A is a Person at t if it has the properties at t of self-consciousness3, intelligence, rationality, language-use and so on (+ reference to Dennett).
  7. The Relation between ‘Persons’ and ‘persons’
    A is a ‘person’ iff
    • (1) A is a subject and
    • (2) either
      … (i) A is a Person at some stage of A’s existence or
      … (ii) A is a sort of subject that typically becomes a Person at some stage of its existence.
  8. The Moral Dimension
  9. Conclusion
    • I have shown that animals do not present a problem for the psychological theorist, who can hold that animal subjects are distinct entities from their bodies.
    • I have shown that the psychological theorist can consistently hold that babies can be persons (even though they are not Persons), and that we existed as babies.

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