Oxford Scholarship On-Line Abstract
Write-up13 (as at 26/09/2023 09:11:31): Olson - What Are We? Animals
Introductory Notes – mostly to self
- This page gives the full draft text of this Chapter (Chapter 2, "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Animals"), of "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology", which was available online14 at Sheffield University: Eric Olson, but which now seems to have been taken down, though I had taken a copy, and possess the book15.
- The text differs slightly from the book.
- The electronic version of the Chapter was paged backwards, though I have repaired it in the text below.
- I’ve taken the liberty of reformatting the text to make it easier to read on-line, and to refer back to.
- The purpose of this page is so that I can easily add a commentary to the text – given that it was available electronically – prior to producing an analysis.
- The endnotes (“In-Page Footnotes”; subscripted) are as in Olson’s text where the colouration is pink. Otherwise, they are (or will be) my own.
- Any superscripted links will be to other parts of Olson’s book.
- Links to my own Notes will be via the footnotes. To save too many unhelpful links from the main text, I’ve restricted footnotes highlighting my Notes to the first occurrence, though I may have many links from the footnotes if I’m discussing other related matters.
- It would have been interesting – once I’ve completed annotating the whole book – to see how many of my Notes have been cited within the annotations of the Book as a whole, but it seems that this functionality is not yet there16.
- I will need to update these Notes in the light of this Chapter, but I expect to leave the updates until I’ve completed the whole book.
- My ultimate intention is to extract my footnotes into a commentary and analysis, and the original text will disappear into the Note Archive as a ‘Previous Version’.
- I plan is to revisit this Chapter multiple times. In the interim, some of my footnotes will be placeholders, either awaiting enlightenment or time for further research.
- What is an animal?19
- The thinking-animal argument20
- Are there animals?21
- Can animals think?22
- Too many thinkers23
- Revisionary linguistics24
- Animalism and our identity over time25
- Further objections26
- What sort of things might we be? Let us begin our study of answers to this question with the view that we are animals26: biological organisms27, members of the primate species [Homo sapiens28. This has a certain immediate attraction. We seem to be animals. When you eat or sleep or talk, a human animal eats, sleeps, or talks. When you look in a mirror, an animal looks back at you. Most ordinary people suppose that we are animals. At any rate if you ask them what we are, and make the question clear enough to indicate that “animals” is one of the possible answers, they typically say that it is obviously the right answer. Few people would deny that we are animals. No one is going to feel immediately drawn to any of the alternative views – that we are bundles of perceptions, or immaterial substances, or non-animals made of the same matter as animals, say. Compared with those proposals, the idea that we are animals looks like plain common sense29.
- But things are not so simple. As we saw earlier, the appearance that we are animals may owe merely to our relating in some intimate way to animals – to our having animal bodies30, if you like – rather than to our actually being those animals. The weight of authority is overwhelmingly opposed31 to our being animals. Almost every major figure32 in the history of Western philosophy denied it, from Plato and Augustine to Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. (Aristotle33 and his followers are an important exception.) The view is no more popular in non-Western philosophy34, and most philosophers writing about personal identity today either deny outright that we are animals or say things that are incompatible with it. We will come to the reasons for this unpopularity later.
- The view that we are animals has become known as animalism35. Because animalism is easily confused with similar-sounding claims, I will say something about how I understand it. Animalism36 says that each of us is numerically identical37 with an animal: there is a certain organism, and you and it are one and the same. This would not bear stating but for the fact that some philosophers who deny that we are identical with any animal nonetheless insist on saying that we are animals. What they mean is that we “are” animals in some loose sense: in the sense of having bodies38 that are animals, or of being “constituted by” animals, or the like. We are animals in something like the sense39 in which an actor playing Lear is a king. That is not animalism.
- This terminological point calls for a brief comment. I wish I could persuade philosophers not to state views according to which we are non-animals by saying that we are animals. It forces us to express the view that we are really animals – that we are animals in the ordinary, straightforward sense in which we are people40 – with the ugly phrase ‘we are numerically identical with animals’. This is linguistically perverse41: the most obvious interpretation of the sentence ‘That is an animal’ is surely that the denoted object really is an animal, and not that it relates in some way to something else that really is an animal. It is also tendentious42: it makes animalism sound complicated and difficult when it ought to be simple and intuitive. Likewise, stating the view that we are non-animals constituted by animals (for instance) by saying ‘we are animals’ makes it sound simple and intuitive when it ought to be complicated and difficult. I, for one, refuse to play this mug’s game43. When I discuss the view that we really are animals, I will state it by saying ‘we are animals’. And I will state the view that we are non-animals constituted by animals by saying ‘we are non-animals constituted by animals’. I encourage others to do the same44.
- Anyway, animalism says that we are animals, not that people in general are; so it is compatible with the existence of people who are not animals (gods or angels, say), and of animals – even human animals that are not people. Animalism is not an account of what it is to be a person, and implies no answer to the personhood question45 of §1.647.
- The view that we are animals may call to mind the idea that we are identical with our bodies47. What does animalism say about this? Is it48 the same as the view that we are our bodies? Does it at least entail that we are? I find these questions hard to answer49. Suppose that a person's body, or at least a human person's body,
And suppose also that
- Must always be a sort of animal: none of us could possibly have a non-animal body.
If these assumptions50 are true, then our being animals amounts to our being identical with our bodies. But are they true?
- None of us could ever be an animal other than the animal that is his body.
- I don’t know. Someone might doubt whether a person's body must always be an animal. It is often said that we could have partly or wholly inorganic bodies: “bionic” bodies with plastic or metal parts, say, or even entirely robotic bodies. But no biological organism could come to be51 partly or wholly inorganic. If you cut off an animal's limb and replace it with an inorganic prosthesis, the animal only gets smaller52 and has something inorganic attached to it53. It doesn’t acquire prosthetic parts54. If you were to replace all an organism’s parts with inorganic prostheses, it would no longer be there at all55. You couldn’t point to an inorganic machine and say truly, “That machine developed in its mother’s womb.” So it seems to me, anyway. If this is right – if we could acquire inorganic bodies, but no organism could become inorganic – then replacing some or all of your parts with inorganic gadgets could give you a body that was not an organism56: a body that was at most partly organic. In that case you could be identical with your body without being an animal – or else be an animal without being identical with your body. Being an animal would be something different from57 being your body, even if ordinarily, when our bodies are wholly organic, the two conditions coincide.
- What it is right to say here depends on whether having some of your parts replaced by inorganic bits could give you a partly inorganic body (one that was not an animal), or whether it would only cause your body to shrink and become attached to those inorganic bits (as the animal would). And that depends in turn on what thing someone's body is. It depends, in other words, on what it is for a thing to be someone's body. For any objects x and y, what is necessary and sufficient for x to be y's body? What does it mean to say that
Unless we have some idea of how to answer these questions58, we shall have no way of saying whether someone might be identical with his body without being an animal or vice versa.
- A certain thing is your body, or that
- Your body is an animal, or that
- Someone might have a robotic body?
- I have never seen a good account of what makes something someone's body (see59 van Inwagen 1980, Olson 1997: 144-150, 2006a). I don’t know how to complete the formula60 ‘necessarily, x is y’s body if and only if…’. Because of this I have no idea what would happen to61 someone’s body if some of a human animal’s parts were replaced with organic prostheses; and I therefore have no idea whether someone could be his body without being an animal or vice versa. So I cannot say how animalism relates to the thesis that we are our bodies. More generally, I find the word ‘body’ unhelpful and frequently misleading in metaphysical discussions. (§2.563 below gives an example of the sort of confusion it can cause.) For the sake of convenience I will sometimes use63 the term 'x's body' to mean
This is merely a stipulation, however, and does not pretend to reflect the way other philosophers use the word 'body’.
- The human animal intimately connected with x:
- The animal we point to when we point to x,
- The animal that moves when x moves,
- The animal that x would be if x were an animal at all,
- …and so on.
- Here is another delicate matter. Suppose someone said, "We are animals, but not just animals64. We are more than mere biological organisms." Is that compatible with animalism? Does animalism say that we are nothing more than animals? That we are mere animals?
- The answer depends on whether being "not just" or "something more than" an animal is compatible with being an animal. And that in turn depends on the import of the qualifications 'not just' and 'more than'. If a journalist complains that the Cabinet is more than just the Prime Minister, she means that the Cabinet is not the Prime Minister: it has other members too. If we are more than just animals in something like that sense, then we are not animals at all65; at best we may bear some intimate relation to those animals we call our bodies. That may be because we have parts that are not parts of any animal, such as immaterial souls. On the other hand, we say that Descartes was more than just a philosopher: he was also a mathematician, a Frenchman, a Roman Catholic, and much more. That is of course compatible with his being a philosopher. We could certainly be more than just animals in this sense66, yet still be animals. We could be animals, but also mathematicians or Frenchmen or Roman Catholics. There is nothing "reductionistic67", in the pejorative sense of the term, about animalism. An animal can have properties other than being an animal68, and which do not follow from its being an animal. At any rate there is no evident reason why not. Despite its ugly name, animalism does not by itself imply that our behavior is determined by a fixed, "animal" nature, or that we have only crudely biological properties, or that we are no different in any important way from other animals. We could be unique among animals69, and yet be animals.
- Finally, animalism does not say that we are animals essentially70; for all it says, our being animals might be only a contingent or perhaps even a temporary feature71 of us, like our being philosophers. Whether we could be animals contingently depends on whether human animals are animals contingently: whether it is possible for something that is in fact a human animal to exist without being an animal. Animalism implies that we have the metaphysical nature of human animals; but what that nature amounts to72 is a further question (see below). My own view, and that of most philosophers, animalists or not, is that animals are animals essentially73; but few arguments for or against our being animals turn on this claim.
2.2 What is an Animal?
- Saying that we are animals will tell us little about what we are unless we have some idea of what sort of thing an animal is. I mean by 'animal' what biologists mean by it: animals are biological organisms, along with plants, bacteria, protists, and fungi. Animals are what zoologists study. Someone might say that ‘animal’ in the ordinary sense of the word means nothing more than ‘animate being’ – a thing that can move and perceive – and that whether animals in this sense are biological organisms is an open question. If that is the case, then my use of the word ‘animal’ is not the ordinary one, and I ought to have used the term ‘organism’ or ‘animal in the biological sense’ instead.
- Anyway, here is a brief sketch of what I take to be the metaphysical nature of animals. The view I will offer has [controversial elements}74, but it is nonetheless widely held. (More detailed accounts more or less consistent with mine are found in75. van Inwagen 1990b: §14, Hoffman and Rosenkrantz 1997: ch. 4 and Wilson 1999: ch. 3.)
- As I see it, animals, including human animals, have more or less the same metaphysical nature as other biological organisms. This is not to deny that some animals may have properties of considerable metaphysical interest – rationality and consciousness, for instance – that no plant or fungus could ever have. But if we ask
… and the like, I believe that the answer will be more or less the same for human organisms as it is for plants and fungi. So we need an account of the metaphysical nature of organisms generally76.
- What organisms are made of,
- What parts they have,
- Whether they are concrete of abstract,
- whether and under what conditions they persist through time,
- I take it that
Descartes thought that each normal human animal was somehow attached to an immaterial substance that is necessary for a thing to think rationally, but not necessary for it to be alive in the biological sense. If this were true, I take it that the animal would be the material thing79, and not the object made up of the material thing and the immaterial one.
- Organisms are concrete particulars.
- They are substances77, and not events or states or aspects of something else.
- They persist through time; moreover
- They continue to be organisms when they persist.
- I will assume for the present that they do not have temporal parts, though we will revisit this assumption in Chapter 579.
- I also assume that organisms are made up entirely of matter: they have no immaterial or non-physical parts.
- Organisms differ from other material things by having lives. By a life I mean more or less what Locke meant (1975: 330-31): a self-organizing biological event80 that maintains81 the vastly complex internal structure of an organism. The materials organisms are made up of are intrinsically unstable, and must therefore be constantly repaired and renewed82, else the organism dies and its remains decay. An organism must constantly take in new particles, reconfigure and assimilate them into its living fabric, and expel those that are no longer useful to it. An organism's life enables it to persist and retain its characteristic structure despite constant material turnover83.
- There may be things besides organisms that are in some sense alive: certain parts of organisms, such as arms, and things made up of several organisms, such as packs of wolves. They are not organisms because they lack lives of their own84. My arm's tissues are kept alive by the vital processes of the human animal it is a part of: there is no self-organizing biological event of the right sort to be a life going on throughout my arm and nowhere else.
- Organisms have parts85: vast numbers of them. A thing is alive in the biological sense by virtue of a vastly complex array of biochemical processes, and the particles caught up in these processes are parts of the organism. (If Aristotle86 thought that organisms were mereologically simple, that is presumably because he thought that matter was homogeneous and not particulate.) Owing to metabolic turnover, organisms are made up of different parts at different times87.
- What are the parts of an organism? Where does an organism leave off, and its environment begin? Where an organism's boundaries lie has presumably to do with the spatial extent of its life88. But just how its life determines its boundaries89 is not obvious. It is tempting to say that an organism is made up at a given time of just those particles that are caught up in its life – its metabolic activities90 – at that time. If you are an organism, you extend all the way to the surface of your skin and no further because that is the extent of your biological life91. Your clothes, or a prosthetic limb92, are not parts of you
… and so on. Neat though this view is, however, some find it too restrictive. They say that the particles in an animal's hair or in the dead heartwood of an ageing tree are parts of the organism, despite no longer being caught up in its life (Ayers 1991: 22593.). We needn’t settle this matter for present purposes94.
- Because damage to them is not repaired in the way that damage to your living fabric is repaired,
- Because they are not nourished by your blood supply,
- Because their parts are not renewed and replaced in the way that parts of your kidneys are,
- As for identity over time, I am inclined to believe that an organism persists if and only if its life continues95. This has the surprising consequence that an organism ceases to exist when the event that maintains its internal structure96 stops and cannot be restarted – that is, when the organism dies. Whatever is left behind – the organism's lifeless remains or its corpse or what have you – is something other than the organism. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a dead organism: no organism can be alive at one time and dead at another. I believe this because I have never seen a plausible alternative account of what it takes for an organism to persist (Olson 2004: 269-27197.). It is not a wholly eccentric view: in addition to Aristotle (see Furth 1988: 156-15798.) and Locke (1975: 330-331), it has several contemporary advocates99. (van Inwagen 1990: 142-158, Hoffman and Rosenkrantz 1997: 159, Wilson 1999: 89-99). It is controversial, however, and nothing I say in this book turns on it. The persistence conditions of human animals will concern us again in §2.7101 and §7.7102.
2.3 The Thinking-Animal Problem102
- Why suppose that we are animals? Well, there are about six billion human animals walking the earth – the same as the number of human people. For each of us there is a human animal, and for every human animal (pathological cases aside103, perhaps) there is one of us. Those animals are very like ourselves: they sit in our chairs and wear our clothes; they do our work and read our newspapers and chat with our friends. They appear to be so like us, both physically and mentally, that it is hard to tell the difference. These apparent facts pose a formidable obstacle to anyone who would deny that we are animals: the thinking-animal problem.
- There is a human animal intimately related to you, which some call your body. Consider that animal’s mental properties. It would seem to have mental properties. You have mental properties, and the animal has the same brain and nervous system as you have (and the same surroundings too, if that is relevant). It went to the same schools as you did, and had the same teachers. It shows the same behavioral evidence of mentality as you do. What more could be required104 for a thing to have mental properties? In fact the animal seems to be mentally exactly like you: every thought or experience of yours appears to be a thought or experience on the part of the animal. How could you and the animal have different thoughts? But if the animal thinks your thoughts, then surely it is you. You could hardly be something other than the thing that thinks your thoughts105.
- Consider what it would mean if you were not the animal. The animal thinks. And of course you think. (We can’t suppose that the animal thinks and you don’t think. Nor can we suppose that you don’t exist, when your animal body thinks.) So if you were not that thinking animal, there would be two beings thinking your thoughts: there would be the thinking animal, and there would be you, a thinking non-animal. We should each share our thoughts with an animal numerically different from us. For every thought there would be two thinkers106.
- Or perhaps the animal located where you are doesn’t think, or doesn’t think in the way that you do. Something might prevent it from thinking. Someone might even suppose that it was a mistake to concede the existence of an animal sitting there in the first place: maybe there is strictly speaking no such thing as your body. In any case, there are just three alternatives to your being an animal:
There is no fourth possibility107. The repugnancy of these three alternatives seems to me a powerful reason to suppose that you are an animal. Let us consider them.
- There is no human animal where you are;
- There is an animal there, but it doesn’t think in the way that you do; or
- There is an animal there, and it thinks exactly as you do, but you are not it.
2.4 Are there animals?
- If you are not an animal, the reason may be that there is no animal that you or anyone else could be. How could there be no human animals? What reason could anyone have for believing this?
- A number of general metaphysical principles are incompatible with the existence of animals. For instance, some versions of idealism entail that there are no material objects at all (so I should describe those views, anyway); and if there are no material objects, then there are no biological organisms. But let’s not discuss idealism108. Another example is the principle that nothing can have different parts at different times. According to this principle109, whenever something appears to exchange an old part for a new one, the truth of the matter is that the object composed of the old parts ceases to exist (or else begins to disperse110) and is instantly replaced by a new object composed of the new parts. Yet organisms by their very nature constantly exchange old parts for new ones. If nothing could ever survive a change of any of its parts, then organisms are metaphysically impossible111; what we think of as an organism is in in reality only a series of "masses of matter" that each take on organic form for a brief moment- -until a single particle is gained or lost – and then pass that form on to a numerically different mass.
- The principle that nothing can change its parts is both theoretically elegant and strikingly implausible112 (we will return to it in §7.3114-§7.4115). But few opponents of animalism deny the existence of animals. They have good reason not to: anything that would rule out the existence of animals would also rule out the existence of most of the things we might be if we were not animals. If there are no animals, then there are no beings constituted by animals, for instance, and no temporal or spatial parts of animals. And if nothing can change its parts, then persisting bundles of perceptions are no more possible than animals. If there are no animals, there will be few items remaining among the furniture of the earth115 that we might be.
2.5 Can animals think?
- The second alternative to our being animals is that the animals we call our bodies exist but don’t think in the way that we do. (Let any sort of mental activity or state count for present purposes as thinking.) There are two possibilities here:
- that human animals don’t think at all, and
- that they think but not as we do.
- Consider first the idea that they don’t think at all. You think, but the animal sitting there doesn't. The reason for this can only be that the animal cannot think: it would certainly be thinking now if it were able to. And if that animal cannot think now, no human animal can ever think, for no human animal is better suited for thinking that it is. Presumably no biological organism of any sort could think. The claim, then, is that animals, including human animals, are no more sentient or intelligent than stones; in fact they are necessarily incapable of thought. It may still be that most human animals relate in some intimate way to thinking beings – to us – and stones do not; and it might be appropriate for certain purposes to describe this fact loosely by saying that human animals are more intelligent than stones116. But strictly speaking human animals would have no mental properties whatever.
- That would be surprising. Human animals seem to think. Could this really be only a misleading appearance? If human animals and other organisms cannot think, there must surely be some impressive explanation of why they can’t – that is, some account of what prevents them from using their brains to think.
- One possible explanation is that nothing can think: there is no such thing as thinking, any more than there is such a thing as phlogiston (a chemical substance once thought to be a constituent of solid matter and released in combustion). This view is known as eliminative materialism117. But no opponents of animalism that I know of accept it. If it were true, it could not be the case that our identity through time consists in psychological continuity, or that we have our mental properties essentially; and that would leave little reason to suppose that we are anything other than animals (see §2.8119 and §2.9120).
- Suppose eliminative materialism is false. In that case, the reason why human animals cannot think must presumably be that they have some property that prevents them from thinking – a property that we, who clearly can think, lack. (Or maybe they lack a property of ours that is necessary for thought.) The most obvious candidate for such a property is being material. If any material thing could ever think, surely it would be some sort of animal; so if animals cannot think, we should expect the reason to be that only an immaterial thing could think120. You and I must therefore be immaterial. Of course, simply denying that any material thing could think does nothing to explain why it couldn't; but those who hold this view have said many things that would, if they were true, explain why no material thing could think. So you might expect anyone who denies that you and I are animals to deny that we are material things of any sort. But this is not so: many opponents of animalism claim to be materialists121. They cannot explain human animals' inability to think by appealing to the fact that animals are material.
- They might say that human animals cannot think because they are mere bodies, and mere bodies cannot think. It could only be some sort of joke, the idea goes, to say that Newton’s body believed122 in absolute space, while Leibniz’s body disagreed. Since we think, it would follow that we are not our bodies, and therefore not animals. But that wouldn't mean that we are immaterial: we might be material things other than our bodies.
- Now even if this is a reason to believe that animals cannot think, it does nothing to explain why123 they can’t. That a human animal is someone’s body and that it is somehow absurd to say that someone’s body thinks tells us nothing about why a human animal, call it what you will, should be unable to think. It makes that claim no less surprising or easier to believe. (Compare124: if Professor Hawking tells us that light cannot escape from a black hole, that is a reason to believe it, but no explanation of why it is so.)
- In any case, it is hardly an impressive argument against animal thought. I grant that there is something odd about the statement that Newton’s body believed in absolute space. But a statement can be odd without being false. Though it sounds preposterous to say125 that there is a liter of blood in my office, it is nevertheless true: I am in my office, and there is a liter of blood in me. The statement is odd because it suggests that blood is stored in my office in something like the way it is stored in blood banks, which really would be preposterous. The statement that Newton’s body believed in absolute space might be odd for a similar reason. For instance, the reason it sounds wrong might be126 that it suggests the false claim that believing in absolute space is in some sense a “bodily” property.
- In any case, the oddness of saying that Newton’s body believed in absolute space should not lead us to infer that the phrase ‘Newton’s body' denotes something of Newton’s – a certain human organism – that was unable to think. Compare the word 'body' with a closely related one: mind. It is just as odd to say127 that Newton’s mind was tall and thin, or indeed that it had any other size or shape, as it is to say that Newton’s body believed in absolute space. But no one would conclude from this that Newton had some mental thing with no size or shape. That would be a poor argument for substance dualism. We cannot always substitute the phrase 'Newton’s mind' for the name 'Newton' without something going wrong; but it is doubtful whether any important metaphysical conclusion follows from this. We ought to be equally wary of drawing metaphysical conclusions from the fact that we cannot always substitute the phrase 'Newton's body' for the name 'Newton' without something going wrong.
- Anyone who wants to explain why some material objects can think but animals cannot has his work cut out for him. I know of just two possible explanations worth considering. The first says that animals cannot think because they are too big128. The true thinkers are brains, or perhaps parts of brains. A whole animal can be said to think only in the derivative sense of having a thinking brain as a part, much as a car is powerful in the sense of having a powerful engine as a part. Animals are stupid things inhabited by clever brains. I will take up this idea in Chapter 4130.
- The second, which is far more interesting, is due to Shoemaker130. (1984: 92-97, 1999, 2004). He says that animals cannot think because they have the wrong identity conditions131. Mental properties, he says, have characteristic causal roles. For you to be hungry, for instance, is for you to be in a state that, among other things, is typically caused by your having low blood sugar, and which tends to cause you to act in ways you believe would result in your eating something nourishing. Now your hunger is a state that tends to combine with your beliefs – not mine – to cause you, and no one else, to behave in certain ways. That is part of the nature of hunger. More generally, for you to have any mental property is at least in part for you to be in a state disposed to combine with certain of your other states to cause you, and no one else, to do certain things.
- But that, Shoemaker claims, is to say that any being whose later states or actions are caused in the appropriate way by your current mental states must be you132. Now suppose your cerebrum133 is put into my head tomorrow. Then your current mental states will have their characteristic effects134 in the being who ends up with that organ, and not in the empty-headed thing left behind. The subject of those states – you – must therefore go along with its transplanted cerebrum135. It follows that136 psychological continuity of a sort must suffice for you to persist through time. More generally, the nature of mental properties entails that psychological continuity suffices137 for anything that has them to persist. Since no sort of psychological continuity suffices138 for any organism to persist – no human animal would go along with its transplanted cerebrum139 – it follows that no organism could have mental properties140. The nature of mental properties makes it metaphysically impossible for animals to think. However, material things with the right identity conditions would be able to think. Shoemaker believes that human organisms typically "constitute141" such things.
- It is important to see just how surprising this view is142. Suppose you and I are physically just like human animals. (Shoemaker more or less accepts this.) Then the view implies that beings with the same physical properties and surroundings can differ radically in their mental properties. In fact this happens regularly: every human person coincides with an animal physically indistinguishable from her – a perfect physical duplicate – that has no mental properties whatever. There are physically identical beings, in identical surroundings, that differ as much in their mental properties as we differ from trees. Mental properties fail to supervene on physical properties in even the weak sense that any two beings with the same physical properties will have the same mental properties. A thing's having the right physical properties and surroundings does not even reliably cause it to have any mental properties.
- I find Shoemaker’s argument against animal thought unpersuasive. It doesn’t seem absolutely necessary that the characteristic effects of a being’s mental states must always occur in that very being. In fact it seems that it would not be so in fission cases143. Suppose your cerebrum is removed from your head and each half is implanted into a different empty head. Then your mental states have their characteristic effects in two different people. If the nature of mental states entails that the donor must be identical with the recipient in the “single” transplant case, it ought to entail that the donor must be identical with both recipients in the double transplant. But that, as Shoemaker himself agrees, is impossible.
- There is more to say about Shoemaker’s argument, but this is not the place for it (see Olson 2002c144.). What if human animals do think, but not in the way that we do? There are two possibilities here.
By itself, however, neither of these suggestions does anything to solve the thinking-animal problem147. It would be just as surprising if human animals were incapable of having the sorts of thoughts that we have, or if they could not think in the sense that we do, as it would be if they could not think at all. It would demand the same sort of explanation, and the prospects for finding one would be similar. It is hard to see what opponents of animalism would gain by proposing such a view.
- One is that they have different mental properties from us: for instance, they are conscious but never self-conscious145.
- The other is that human animals have the same mental properties as we have, but they have them in a different way: for instance, they think only in the derivative sense of relating in a certain way to us, who think in a straightforward and non-derivative sense146.
2.6 Too many thinkers
- Suppose human animals think in just the way that we do: every thought of yours is a thought on the part of a certain animal. How could that thinking animal be anything other than you? Only if you are one of at least two beings that think your thoughts. (Or maybe you and the animal think numerically different but otherwise identical thoughts. Then you are one of at least two beings thinking exactly similar thoughts.) If you think, and your animal body thinks, and it is not you, then there are two thinkers there, sitting and reading this book. Call this the cohabitation view. It is unattractive in at least three different ways148.
- Most obviously, it means that there are far more thinking beings149 than we thought: the overcrowding problem. Defenders of the cohabitation view – and it has its defenders – typically respond by proposing linguistic hypotheses. They propose that the things we ordinarily say and believe about how many people there are do not mean or imply what they appear to mean or imply. They interpret, or reinterpret, our ordinary, non-philosophical statements and beliefs in a way that would make them consistent with the cohabitation view. When I write on the copyright form that I am the sole author of this book, for instance, I might seem to be saying that every author of this book is numerically identical with me, which according to the cohabitation view is false. But it may not be obvious that that is what I mean. Perhaps I mean only that every author of this book bears some close relation to me: that they all share their thoughts with me, say, that they exactly coincide with me. In that case the ordinary statement that I am the sole author of this book comes out true, even if strictly speaking the book has at least two authors. My wife is not in any ordinary sense a bigamist150, even if she is married both to me and to this animal. At any rate it would be badly misleading to describe our relationship as a ménage à quatre.
- The general idea is that whenever two thinking beings relate to one another in the way we relate to our animal bodies, we "count them as one" for ordinary purposes (Lewis 1993151). Ordinary people – people not engaged in metaphysics – have no opinion about how many numerically different thinkers there are. Why should they? What matters in real life is not the number of numerically different thinkers, but the number of non-overlapping thinkers. Human people and thinking human animals don’t compete for space. The world is overcrowded only in a thin, metaphysical sort of way and not in any robust quotidian sense.
- If this is right, the cohabitation view is consistent with everything we ordinarily say and believe about how many of us there are. But that does not entirely deprive the overcrowding problem of its force. Philosophers of language who know their business can take any philosophical claim, no matter how absurd152, and come up with a linguistic hypothesis according to which that claim is compatible with everything we say and think when we’re not doing philosophy. If I say that I had breakfast before I had lunch today, there is no doubt something I could be taken to mean that would make my statement compatible with the unreality of time153. But that would not make it any easier to believe that time is unreal – not much, anyway. For the same reason, the mere existence of the hypothesis that we “count” philosophers by a relation other than numerical identity does little to make it easier to believe that there are two numerically different philosophers154 sitting there and reading this now. That is because that linguistic hypothesis seems to most of us to be false155.
- In any case, the troubles for the cohabitation view go beyond mere overcrowding. The view makes it hard to see how we could ever know that we were not animals156. If there really are two beings, a person and an animal, now thinking your thoughts, you ought to wonder which one you are157. You may think you're the person – the one that isn't an animal. But since the animal thinks exactly as you do, it ought to think that it is a person. It will have the very same grounds for thinking that it is a person and not an animal as you have for believing that you are. Yet it is mistaken. If you were the animal and not the person, you would still think you were the person. So for all you know, you are the one making the mistake. Even if you are a person and not an animal, it is hard to see how you could ever have any reason to believe that you are158. Call this the epistemic problem.
- The cohabitation view is unattractive in a third way as well. If your animal thinks just as you do, it ought to count as a person159. It satisfies every ordinary definition of 'person': it is, for instance, "a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places," as Locke put it. But no one supposes that your animal body is a person numerically different from you – that we each share our thoughts with another person. If nothing else, that would contradict the popular claim that people – all people – have properties incompatible with those of animals (see §2.7161 below). It would also mean that some human people are animals, even if others are not. And if human animals are not only psychologically indistinguishable from ourselves but are also people in their own right, it is even more difficult to see how anyone could have any reason to believe that she was not one of the animal people.
- If ordinary human animals are not people, on the other hand, despite having the same mental properties as people, all familiar accounts of what it is to be a person are too permissive. There could be non-people whose inner life was entirely indistinguishable from ours; indeed, there would be at least one such non-person for every genuine person. That would deprive personhood of any psychological or moral significance. For that matter, it would make it a real epistemic possibility that we are not people. I can verify easily enough that I am rational, self-conscious, and so on; but how could I assure myself that I have that extra feature required for personhood that rational human animals lack? Call this problem – that our animal bodies would be people different from ourselves – the personhood problem161.
2.7 Creative linguistics
- Some say that the epistemic problem162 has a linguistic solution (Noonan 1998163, forthcoming). They make two surprising claims.
- First, they say, not just any rational, self-conscious being, or more generally any being with our mental capacities, is a person. To count as a person, a thing must have not only the appropriate mental qualities, but something else as well: it must persist by virtue of psychological continuity164, or have those mental qualities essentially165, or the like. Call this extra feature F. That beings must have F in order to fall within the extension of the word ‘person’ is supposed to be a contingent fact about how we use166 that word. Human animals lack F167, and therefore do not qualify as people, despite being psychologically indistinguishable from ourselves. That is the first claim.
- The second is that the word 'I' and other personal pronouns, at least in their most typical uses, refer only to people168: that's why we call them personal pronouns. A being that says 'I' in normal circumstances refers thereby to the person who says it. This too is supposed to be a contingent fact about how we use language169.
- These two claims, together with the cohabitation view, yield the startling conclusion170 that first-person utterances (and presumably first-person thoughts as well) do not always refer to the beings that utter or think them. In particular, when your animal body says 'I', it doesn't refer to itself, as it isn't a person. But presumably you have F; so you are a person, and when you say or think 'I', you do refer to yourself. Since your animal body says and thinks just what you say and think, its first-person utterances and thoughts therefore refer to you – the person who produces them – rather than to itself. If it says, "I am hungry," it means not that it itself is hungry, but that you are. More to the point, if the animal says or thinks, "I am a person and not an animal," it does not say falsely that it is a person and not an animal, but truly that you are. So neither you nor the animal is mistaken171 about which thing it is.
- Call this linguistic hypothesis – that personal pronouns refer only to people and that people by definition have F – personal-pronoun revisionism172. How would it solve the epistemic problem? Suppose there are two beings thinking your thoughts: an animal, and also a nonanimal with psychological persistence conditions – a psychological continuer for short. Better, suppose that you know this. Suppose further that having psychological persistence conditions is the extra person-making feature F. Now imagine wondering which of the beings thinking your thoughts you are, the animal or the psychological continuer. How could you work out the answer to this question?
- Well, as a competent speaker of English you would know at least implicitly
If you know that animals are not psychological continuers, you can infer from this that you are not an animal – even if you share your thoughts with an animal psychologically indistinguishable from you. You can therefore know that you are a psychological continuer and not an animal. You can know which of the beings thinking your thoughts you are. That would solve the epistemic problem173.
- That each occurrence of the word 'I' refers only to the person who utters it. You would also know, or be able to work out,
- That something counts as a person only if it is a psychological continuer, which according to pronoun revisionism is true by definition. And of course you know
- That you are whatever you refer to when you say 'I'. These are supposed to be linguistic and conceptual facts that we can know a priori. Given that a psychological continuer thinks your thoughts, it follows from these claims
- That you are a person and a psychological continuer.
- There is much to be said about this proposal (I discuss it at greater length in174 Olson 2002b; see also Zimmerman 2003: 502-503). I will make just one comment. We are supposing that the human animals that walk and talk and sleep in our beds have the full range of human attitudes and emotions, and are psychologically indistinguishable from ourselves175. (We discussed the view that human animals are psychologically different from ourselves in the previous section.) Now consider your understanding of the word ‘person’. In particular, think of the sense of the word that informs your use of the personal pronouns. What features must a being have in order for you to call it a person in that ordinary sense? What must it have in order to be a someone rather than a something, a he or a she rather than an it? If something were psychologically indistinguishable from yourself, or from one of your close friends, would you refuse to call it a person or a someone until you were told whether it persists by virtue of psychological continuity? That seems to be no part of what we ordinarily mean by ‘person’. If human animals really are psychologically just like ourselves, they will count as people in any ordinary sense of the word. It couldn’t turn out that176 half of the rational, self-conscious, human-sized beings that we know and love and interact with in daily life are not people. Human animals may fail to satisfy some specialized philosophical sense of ‘person’, owing to their having the wrong persistence conditions or on some other trivial grounds. But they are surely people in the sense of the word that informs our ordinary use of the personal pronouns.
- Maybe it isn’t always clear to us what we mean by our words. Some ordinary words may mean something very different from what they seem to mean. Perhaps we cannot dismiss personal-pronoun revisionism as absurd. But it is hardly part of an attractive alternative177 to animalism.
2.8 Animalism and our identity over time
- Those who say that we are not animals will probably want to argue either that178 human animals cannot think in the way that we can, or that we can somehow know that we are not the human animals that share our thoughts. Neither prospect looks promising. That, to my mind, is the principal case for our being animals179. What is the case against180 it?
- Historically, the main reason for denying that we are animals is hostility to materialism181. The conviction that no material thing, no matter how complex, could ever think in the way that we do is clearly incompatible with our being animals. But few philosophers182 set much store by it nowadays. The main contemporary objection to animalism has to do with our identity over time, the most popular account of which is that we persist by virtue of some sort of psychological continuity183. That rules out our being animals, for no sort of psychological continuity is either necessary or sufficient184 for a human organism to persist.
- To see that it isn’t necessary,
If any sort of psychological continuity is necessary for you to persist, then your animal body existed before you did, and it could outlive you. But nothing existed before it itself existed, and nothing can outlive itself. It follows that you are not that animal190.
- Consider the fact that each human animal starts out as an embryo185 incapable of any sort of mental activity. There is no psychological continuity of any sort between an adult human animal and the embryo it once was: the adult animal’s mental properties cannot derive in any way from those of the embryo, for the embryo had none. The embryo is186 the adult human organism, yet there is no psychological continuity between the embryo as it started out and the full-grown animal as it is today. A human animal can therefore persist without any psychological continuity whatever. Or
- Consider what would happen if you were to lapse into a persistent and irreversible vegetative state187. The result of this would be a human organism that was clearly alive, in the biological sense in which an oyster188 is alive: it would breathe spontaneously, digest its food, fight infection, heal wounds, and so on. It would presumably be the very human organism189 that was once able-bodied: no one supposes that a human animal that lapses into a persistent vegetative state thereby ceases to exist and is replaced by a new animal. But the animal would no longer be capable of any mental activity. Again, a human animal can persist despite complete psychological discontinuity.
- Now the claim that psychological continuity is necessary for us to persist may sound unattractive191. Those who have actually suffered the misfortune of having a loved one lapse into a persistent vegetative state do not often believe that that person has literally ceased to exist192, and that the living thing lying on the hospital bed is a numerically different being. (They may say that their loved one’s life no longer has any value, or that he ought to be allowed to die; but that is another matter193.) Nor does this attitude appear to rest on the mistaken belief194 that there is some sort of psychological continuity in these cases. And when we see an ultrasound picture of a 12-week-old foetus, most of us are inclined believe that we are seeing something which, if all goes well, will come to be195 a full-fledged human person, even though it now has no mental properties. (This is something that most parties to debates over the morality of abortion196 agree on.) We don’t ordinarily suppose that the foetus cannot itself become a person, but can only give rise to a person numerically different from itself.
- In fact animalism appears to be compatible with everything we believe about our persistence in real-life situations. In every actual case, the number of people we think there are is the same as197 the number of rational human animals. Every actual case in which we take someone to survive or perish is a case where a human animal survives or perishes. Or at least this is so if we leave aside religious beliefs – our being animals may be incompatible with our being resurrected or reincarnated (though some leading philosophers of religion disagree198: see van Inwagen 1978, Zimmerman 1999, Merricks 2001a).
- But animalism conflicts with things we are inclined to say about science-fiction stories. This appears to show a deep and widespread conviction that some sort of psychological continuity is sufficient for us to persist199.
- Imagine that your cerebrum is put into another head. The being who gets that organ, and he alone, will be psychologically continuous with you on any account of what psychological continuity is: he will have, for the most part anyway, your memories, beliefs, and other mental contents and capacities; he will have your “first-person perspective200”; he will take himself to be you201; all these mental properties will have been continuously physically realized throughout the process; and there are no troublesome rival claimants. If any psychological facts suffice for you to persist, that being would be you: you would go along with your transplanted cerebrum. And many people are convinced that you would indeed go along with202 your transplanted cerebrum.
- What about your animal body? Would it go along with its cerebrum? Would the surgeons pare that animal down to a lump of yellowish-pink tissue, move it across the room, then supply it with a new head, trunk, and other parts? Surely not203. A detached cerebrum is no more an organism204 than a detached arm is an organism: if the animal went along with the cerebrum, it would have to cease being205 an animal for a time and then become an animal once more when the transplant is complete. More importantly, think of the empty-headed thing206 left behind when your cerebrum is removed. It is an animal. If the surgeons are careful to leave the lower brain intact, it may even remain alive207. It seems to be208 the very animal that your cerebrum was a part of before the operation. The empty-headed being into which209 your cerebrum is to be implanted is also a living human organism. And putting your cerebrum into its head surely doesn’t destroy210 that organism and replace it with a new one.
- So there appear to be two human animals in the transplant story. One of them loses its cerebrum and gets an empty head. That organ is then fitted into the empty cranium of the other animal, which is thereby made whole again. The surgeons move an organ from one animal to another, just as211 they might do with a liver. No animal moves from one head to another. Even though there is full psychological continuity between the cerebrum donor and the recipient, they are not the same animal. Thus, no sort of psychological continuity suffices212 for a human animal to persist through time. One human animal could be psychologically continuous in the fullest possible sense with another human animal213.
- The conviction that you would go along with your transplanted cerebrum is therefore incompatible with your being an animal. Your animal body would stay behind if your cerebrum were transplanted. If you would go along with your transplanted cerebrum, then you and that animal could go your separate ways. And of course a thing and itself can never go their separate ways. It follows that you are not that animal, or indeed any other animal. Not only are you not essentially an animal. You are not an animal at all, even contingently: nothing that is even contingently an animal214 would move to a different head in a cerebrum transplant.
- So the principal case against animalism215 is this: If we were animals, we should have the persistence conditions of animals, conditions which have nothing to do with psychological facts. Psychology would be completely irrelevant to our identity over time. Cerebrum transplants would be no different, metaphysically, from liver transplants: you could donate your cerebrum to someone else, just as you could donate your liver. But that is absurd. Psychology clearly is relevant to personal identity. You would go along with your transplanted cerebrum; you wouldn’t stay behind with an empty head. Therefore we are not animals.
- Taken in isolation, the transplant argument may look strong. Why deny that we should go along with our transplanted cerebrums? Isn’t it obvious that that is what would happen? But we have seen how this “transplant conviction” could be wrong: it would be wrong if we were animals. Would it really be so surprising if it were wrong? To my mind, it would be surprising if it were right216. That would mean either that human animals cannot think, or that you are one of two beings thinking your thoughts, and one of those beings would not go along with its transplanted cerebrum. That would be surprising.
- In any case, there are other reasons to doubt the transplant conviction. For one thing, the sort of psychological continuity that would hold between you and the recipient of your cerebrum could hold between you and two future beings. If your cerebrum were divided217 and each half implanted into a different head, at least one of the resulting beings would be mistaken in thinking that she was you, for the simple reason that one thing (you) cannot be numerically identical with two things218. Someone can be fully psychologically continuous with you and yet not be you: psychological continuity is not sufficient219 for us to persist. That undermines the judgment that the one mentally continuous with you in the original transplant story would be you. If the claim that anyone psychologically continuous with you must be you fails to hold in fission cases, it might fail220 to hold in cerebrum transplants too.
- For another, the transplant conviction gets much of its support from a questionable assumption about our practical attitudes – "what matters in identity221", as the jargon has it. Imagine that your cerebrum is about to be transplanted into my head. The empty-headed being left behind will then get a new cerebrum. The hospital has only enough morphine for one of the two resulting people; the other will suffer unbearable pain222. If we asked you before the operation who should get the morphine, how would you choose? (Imagine that your motives are entirely selfish.) Most people say that you would have a strong reason to give the morphine to the one who ends up with your cerebrum. You would have less reason, if any, to give it to the other person. This may lead us to infer that you would be223 the one who ends up with your cerebrum.
- But this inference is questionable. Many philosophers doubt whether your selfish interest in the welfare of the person who gets your cerebrum must derive from the fact that he or she is you. In the double-transplant case, they say, you would have a selfish reason to care about the welfare of both offshoots. Better, you would have the same reason224 to care about the fission offshoots as you would have to care about the one who got your whole cerebrum. Yet neither of the fission offshoots would be you. In that case the concern you would have for the person who got your cerebrum in the single transplant case would not support the claim that he or she would be you, thus depriving the transplant conviction of what appears to be its principal support225.
- If the transplant conviction is false, why did anyone ever accept it? Well, someone’s being psychologically continuous with you is strong evidence226 for her being you. Conclusive evidence, in fact: no one is ever psychologically continuous with anyone other than herself in real life. That makes it easy to suppose that the one who gets your cerebrum227 in the transplant case would be you, even if, because we are animals, it isn’t so.
- Here is another reason why someone might find the transplant argument a conclusive refutation of animalism. Suppose there are, in addition to human animals, thinking non-organisms228 that would go along with their transplanted cerebrums, or more generally beings that persist by virtue of some sort of psychological continuity. And suppose that such a being thinks your thoughts. Then there would be two beings that are otherwise equally good candidates229 for being you, except that one has the sort of persistence conditions we believe you to have and the other (the animal) doesn’t. Would it not be perverse, in that case, to suppose that you are the second being? That would make animalism look plainly wrong. I believe that many advocates of the transplant argument do assume that certain non-animals think our thoughts230. Few of them give any reason to accept that metaphysical claim, however, and some such reason is surely needed. We will consider some reasons for it in Chapters 3 and 5231. But even if assuming that human animals coincide with thinking non-animals would make the transplant argument an irresistible attack on animalism, it would not make it a strong argument for any positive view about what we are. That is because of the thinking-animal problem: the difficulty of knowing that232 we are anything other than the animals thinking our thoughts.
2.9 Further Objections
- We have seen that animalism conflicts with traditional thinking about our identity over time. Here are some further objections233.
- First, animalism seems to imply that you and I are only temporarily and contingently people234. At least this is so on most proposed accounts of what it is to be a person. Every human animal was once an embryo with no mental properties. If being a person implies having certain mental properties – rationality and self-consciousness or the like – then each human animal was once a non-person. Even if a thing need only have the capacity to acquire the relevant mental properties in order to count as a person, so that unthinking embryos might be people, human animals in a persistent vegetative state will not count as people, and any human animal could end up in such a state.
- I don’t want to argue about what it is to be a person. (I don’t find it an interesting question235.) The important fact is that our being animals would make our having mental features of any sort a temporary and contingent condition of us – even if it is our normal or proper condition. It would mean that any of us could exist at a time without having any mental properties whatever at that time, or even the capacity to acquire them. What is more, any of us could have existed without236 having any mental properties at any time: any of us could have died six weeks after conception. Your being able to think or experience would be no more essential to you than your being a philosopher. It would not, so to speak, be part of your being237.
- Second, animalism appears to entail that there are no persistence conditions for people as such238: no persistence conditions that necessarily apply to all people and only to people. The persistence conditions of human animals presumably derive from their being animals, or organisms. That makes their persistence conditions no different from those of oysters, which are not people by anyone’s lights. If so, then our being animals implies that we have the same persistence conditions as some non-people. Animalism is also consistent with there being people whose persistence conditions are different from ours239: inorganic people such as gods or angels, for instance. If there could be such beings, it would not be necessary that all people have the same persistence conditions. People’s persistence conditions, and for that matter their metaphysical nature in general, would derive not from their being people240, but from their being animals, or immaterial substances, or whatever metaphysical sort of person they are. Person would not be a kind241 that determines the identity conditions of its members.
- Some philosophers see in these implications a grave objection to animalism (Baker 2001: 218-20242). They find it absurd to suppose I might be a person only temporarily and contingently. We might as well say243 that the moon is only temporarily and contingently a material object. This thought appears to be incompatible with our being animals.
- The claim that there are no persistence conditions for people as such is said to conflict with the very idea of personal identity (Baker 2001: 124244). To think about personal identity, the objection goes, is to inquire into the identity conditions of people as such – identity conditions that things have by virtue of being people. That, they say, is why we call it personal identity245. If there are no such conditions, as animalism seems to imply, then there is no such thing as personal identity – an implication that is also taken to be absurd.
- I suppose these objections have some force. That you and I are people essentially is an attractive claim. But it doesn’t seem obvious. If we take seriously the idea that a person could be an organism, and we accept that organisms have mental properties only contingently, and we take being a person at a time to entail having mental properties at that time, then we can understand well enough how someone might be a person only contingently. And if nothing else, the thinking-animal problem246 shows that our being organisms is a claim that we must take seriously.
- That we must have our persistence conditions by virtue of being people, so that there must be persistence conditions for people as such, is another interesting conjecture. Here is how I see it. You and I have many important properties. We are people. We are also (let us suppose) material, composed of parts, biologically alive, sentient, and awake. For that matter, we might also be philosophers, Hindus, women, or Ukrainians. What principle dictates that our being people must determine our identity conditions247, rather than any of these other properties? None that I know of. It may be plausible on the face of it; but its incompatibility with our being animals248 looks like an excellent reason to doubt it.
- One further objection to animalism is that it implies the wrong account of what determines how many of us there are at any one time (Lowe 1996: 31249) – a topic sometimes called "synchronic identity250". If we are animals, then the number of human people at any time will always be equal to251 the number of human animals that have whatever it takes to be a person at that time. And what determines the number of animals is presumably a matter of brute biology. Perhaps it is determined by the number of biological lives in the sense sketched in §2.2253. But many philosophers, beginning with Locke, have assumed that the number of people or thinking beings at any given time is determined not by brute biology but by psychological facts: facts about mental unity and disunity.
- My mental states are unified in the sense of being disposed to interact with one another, and not with any others, in an especially direct way. For instance, my desire to get a train to London will tend to combine with my belief that this train goes to London to cause me to board it. My desires don't interact with your beliefs in this way to produce action. That, the idea goes, is what makes it the case that my desires and my beliefs are the states of a single person253, whereas my desires and your beliefs are not. More generally, mental states belong to the same person or thinking being just when they relate to one another in this way (Shoemaker 1984: 94- 97254). So the number of people, or thinking beings generally, is necessarily equal to the number of unified systems of mental states. Call this the psychological individuation principle.
- This principle looks incompatible with animalism. It seems possible for an animal to have disunified mental states – supposing that an animal can think at all, anyway. It may even be possible for an animal to have a mental life that is no more unified than yours is with mine: perhaps a single human animal could be the home of two unified mental systems. This might happen in an extreme case of multiple personality255 – not in any actual case, but in a case that we could imagine by extrapolating from actual cases. The psychological individuation principle implies that such an animal would be the home of two people.
- This doesn't yet show that the psychological individuation principle conflicts with animalism. Animalism doesn't say that all people are animals. Why couldn't we normal human beings be animals, while people with extreme split personality are something else? But that would be an uncomfortable view256. What sort of things would the people in those unusual cases be? They must be something. Perhaps they would be bundles of mental states, or parts of brains. But if an animal with split personality could house two or more such non-animal people, we should expect your animal (which I take to be normal and mentally unified) to house one non-animal person. And if there is a non-animal person within you, it will be hard to maintain that you are the animal. How could you ever know which person you are257? Animalism at least strongly suggests that for every animal there can be at most one human person, no matter how disunified that animal's mental states might be; and that appears to be incompatible with the psychological individuation principle.
- As I see it, the psychological individuation principle is yet another debatable conjecture (Olson 2003b258). In §6.3260 I will argue that it is incompatible with our being material things of any sort, and is best combined with the view that we are bundles260 of mental states.
- I believe that the most serious worries for animalism are very different from those we have considered here. We will come to them in Chapter 9261. In the meantime let us turn to the other views of what we are.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (26/09/2023 09:11:31).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- I can’t remember when this was. The pdfs of a few Chapters – including this one – are dated May 2007 and the pdf of the book is dated 11th November 2007 – so in the year the book was published. I think they must have been available for some considerable time thereafter, but I can’t be certain.
Footnote 16: Footnote 26: Footnote 27: Footnote 28: Footnote 29:
- Purchased on 18th November 2007, so soon after publication.
Footnotes 30, 38:
- This must be right – and the default view. As such, I don’t think the philosopher’s main job is to argue for this view, other than as an inference to the best explanation. However, the animalist needs to critique rival theories.
Footnote 31: Footnote 32: Footnote 33: Footnote 34:
- This is discussed later in the Chapter, so I won’t touch on it now.
- This could do with some justification as it is an important point.
- Advocates of animalism include Carter (1989), Ayers (1990: 283-285), Snowdon (1990), van Inwagen (1990b), Hoffman and Rosenkrantz (1997), and Merricks (2001a, 2001b). See also Olson 1997a and 2003a.
See my Note on Animalists. Footnote 36: Footnote 37: Footnote 39:
- "Carter (William) - How to Change Your Mind"
- "Ayers (Michael R.) - Locke (Vol 2 - Ontology)"
- "Snowdon (Paul) - Persons, Animals, and Ourselves"
- "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Material Beings"
- "Hoffman (Joshua) & Rosenkrantz (Gary) - Substance: Its Nature and Existence"
- "Merricks (Trenton) - How to Live Forever Without Saving Your Soul: Physicalism and Immortality"
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Objects and Persons"
- "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology"
- "Olson (Eric) - An Argument for Animalism"
- Is this analogy apposite?
- What does Olson mean here by ‘people’, such that it is meant in an ‘ordinary, straightforward sense’?
- Language is much more subtle than Olson has it.
- ‘Is’ has more meanings than ‘is numerically identical to’. Saying that Eric Olson is a professor doesn’t mean that he would cease to exist if he got the sack.
- ‘Is’ often applies a job, status, quality or something to an individual or thing that is fundamentally something else.
- I’ve a feeling that this idea came up in a PhD supervision I had with Jen Hornsby many years ago and that I got challenged on it. I need to look this up.
Footnote 43: Footnote 44:
- Natural language isn’t designed to make animalists feel comfortable.
- Maybe, for the sake of clarity, I should refer to Olson as ‘a human animal who is currently a Professor’?
Footnote 47: Footnote 48:
- See my Note on Persons.
- This is important – and a useful contribution Olson has made to the debate on PID, in shifting it from talk of Persons to talking about Us. Locke had already made this distinction, but talk had been almost universally about Persons.
- It? That is, ‘is animalism the view that we are our bodies’.
- At least the questions make sense. For the Animalist, some proposed answers to the question often asked – about the relationship between ‘us’ and ‘our bodies’ – don’t make sense. We can’t ‘have’ bodies – for instance – if there’s no ‘I’ distinct therefrom (unless all animals are said to ‘have’ bodies).
- But … maybe things are more nuanced? Do animals ‘have’ bodies? Olson goes on to discuss this later in the Section.
- This discussion is initially within the context where Animalism is assumed as the correct account of PID. Non-animalists would deny both these assumptions without further thought; it’s been assumed that we can swap bodies or cease to be animals (ref: Locke’s Prince and the Cobbler Thought Experiment and also the Christian hope of Resurrection into qualitatively dissimilar bodies discontinuous with our present ones.
- Olson is not – at this point – denying that we might become Cyborgs or undergo Metamorphosis. At least I don’t think so.
- It’s what happens to the organism during such a process that he’s interested in now.
- This might be the case initially, and in this extreme and clear-cut case.
- But – over time – even in this case it’s use would produce changes in the brain which would rely on it for locomotion. But, I suppose, no more so than the reliance of spectacles for vision.
- See a Footnote in Chapter 1.1 which discusses spectacles.
- This is clear in this case, but less so in others.
- For instance, if I had a deformity in my leg, this might be addressed by my wearing a leg brace, which is clearly external to the leg and therefore not part of the organism.
- However, an alternative approach would be to break and straighten the leg, inserting pins and titanium rods and the like. Over time, these inorganic parts would be integrated by the body during the healing process. Bone would grow to join with the inorganic bits. To the external view, it wouldn’t be obvious that all this had taken place, and the repaired leg would be more useful to the organism than it had been originally. Does it make sense – say a length of bone had been removed to make way for the titanium rod – that the animal had ‘got smaller’?
- So Olson claims, but can this claim not be resisted?
- Organisms contain lots of ‘parts’ that might be treated as ‘alien’ and therefore not part of the body. We couldn’t digest our food without our microbiome (see Wikipedia: Microbiome) and ostriches can’t without ingesting stones (see Wikipedia: Gastrolith). We have mitochondrial DNA (see my Note on Chimeras). Then there’s organ Transplants. Admittedly, all but the gastroliths are organic.
- It would have metamorphosed – or been metamorphosed – into an Android.
- But, could it really be useful to say that the animal had ‘got smaller and smaller’ until it finally vanished?
- I imagine there’s a Sorites paradox lurking here somewhere.
- So, when I point to someone with embedded inorganic prostheses, am I pointing incorrectly if my pointing includes the inorganic bits?
- It seems our language wouldn’t really consider such an individual to be full of holes where holes ought not to be.
- As Olson says at the end of the sentence: normally we have coincidence, but modal considerations point to non-identity even in the normal case.
- These considerations might make us reconsider what we are. It might move us back to the Body Criterion which was the popular rival to the Psychological Criterion before the Biological Criterion came along.
- All this connects to Transhumanism, of course.
Footnote 59: Footnote 60:
- Maybe it’s worth having a go now – or at least deciding whether there’s anything important at stake.
- A certain thing is your body: We can always point to someone’s body, whether or not it’s riddled with inorganic repairs. Your body is that physical thing through which you do your stuff. It would – in normal usage – tend to focus on physical stuff and ignore your mental attributes, in the dichotomy ‘mind and body’ but strictly-speaking it includes your brain and whatever it does.
- Your body is an animal: if you’re an animal, then you don’t ‘have’ a body, you ‘are’ one. We have a choice with prostheses – deny that what appears to be your body (albeit one that’s patched up) is your body or say that patched-up animals are still animals
- Someone might have a robotic body: What does this mean? What is the ‘someone’ that ‘has’ a robotic body? In normal parlance it’d be taking the ‘someone’ as a brain – ie. adopting the Brain Criterion.
- Sometimes this is asking too much. Wait until we get to asking ‘what is an animal’. Maybe we’re stuck with Wittgenstein’s approach to games – a family resemblance?
- What does he mean? What happens is what happens! Is he asking whether it remains in existence?
- Well, this usage is perfectly normal, even if it is a ‘stipulation’.
- Yes – this is an important complaint against Animalism. Baker harps on about this. I think Olson has satisfactory answers.
- This depends – as we’ve discussed – on what the ‘parts’ of the higher animals are. But we can’t be animals if we are supposed to have parts that (other) animals cannot have.
- But none of this can be stipulated.
- As Olson goes on to say, we are very special animals, but animals for all that.
- See my Note on Reductionism.
- I’m not fully clear on what the ‘pejorative’ sense of reductionism is in this context.
- ‘Being an animal’ is rather a clunky property that all animals share! Obviously they all have multitudinous properties.
- Importantly, most human animals, and maybe some others, have the property of being a Person.
Footnote 70: Footnote 71:
- So, Olson is careful – without prejudice – to distance animalism from the excesses of evolutionary psychology.
- However, Baker goes further and claims a new ‘kind’ – a Person – comes into existence when the FPP comes into existence. Yet it is members of the species Homo Sapiens – and maybe some other animals – that have this very special property.
- I think Olson concedes too much here, though he does back-track later on.
- He makes it sound like ‘being an animal’ could be a phase sortal.
- Maybe. But it means that – at this stage – animalism isn’t differentiated from its rivals in ruling out certain eventualities.
- Also, Olson had already decided that animals can’t acquire organic parts. But, this seems to imply that – in principle – human animals might do so, thereby ceasing to be Animals.
Footnote 74: Footnote 75: Footnote 76: Footnote 77: Footnote 79:
- Including human animals.
- A holder of the Constitution View can agree that animals are animals essentially, but deny that we are animals essentially.
- This raises an important point. Is Olson more committed to our being material things than he is to our being animals?
- Say it was the case that all higher animals with an ounce of rationality had a rational immaterial soul? Then Olson should acknowledge that.
- Of course, this would require a radical change of direction for zoology, but if it was true, then zoologists would have to acknowledge the situation.
- Of course, it’s most likely not true, but that’s not the point.
- See my Note on Life. There’s a distinction in common parlance (and theological language) between ‘life’ and ‘lives’.
- I agree that ‘lives’ are long complex events. Presumably such events have temporal parts even if – according to Olson’s assumption – the animal which has the life doesn’t?
- That sounds like there’s a central controller – the ‘life force’ of the organism. Things are even more complex, with all sorts of semi-independent sub-plots going on.
- This will become clearer when we consider Death, with some subsystems taking longer to shut down than others.
- While this is true, there’s also the process of growth in the early stages and then of nutrition to provide energy.
- It takes argument to insist that this is more than smoke and mirrors. The objection is that any persistence is in the ‘loose and popular’ form of identity.
- Things get complicated. There are slime-moulds that look like organisms but are collections of individuals.
- I agree that arms don’t have separate lives, though the cells in the arm may live on after the organism is dead.
- I also agree that packs of wolves don’t have a life over and above those of their constituent wolves.
- Yet ‘life’ is still somewhat mysterious. Some ‘superorganisms’ – ant colonies – seem to be more than the sum of their constituent ants which can’t survive for long outside their colony (or at any rate, ‘lead a meaningful life’.
Footnote 86: Footnote 87:
- This is obviously true, but I thought Olson denies it. Maybe – like Peter Van Inwagen he restricts ‘things’ to organisms and ‘simples’?
- What is meant by this? What does Olson take to be ‘parts’? Just individual molecules or major substructures?
- Most people would think of ‘lives’ as having temporal rather than spatial extent.
- Olson is using ‘life’ in a technical sense as the (momentary) event that an organism is involved in.
- This is all rather strange. What sort of thing – metaphysically-speaking – is a ‘life’? Is it anything over and above the activities of the parts of the organism?
- So, is the ‘life’ the sum total of the organism’s ‘metabolic activities’, or does it include other activities as well.
- When asked ‘what have you done with your life’ I wouldn’t proudly say I’ve spent it metabolising.
- This is complicated because the top skin layer – the epidermis (see Wikipedia: Epidermis) is replaced every 48 days, and presumably the top layer will be of dead cells about to slough off.
Footnote 93: Footnote 94:
- Clothes would certainly not seem to be ‘part of you’ despite their importance in temperature regulation as fur-substitutes.
- The same may well go for prosthetic limbs, despite their integration with your nervous system to ensure accurate ambulation or manipulation.
- Olson’s reason – that they are not ‘maintained’ by the usual metabolic processes, so are not caught up in the organism’s life – seems sound.
- But I wonder whether closely-integrated repairs should ‘count’. Say a bone is repaired with a mesh into which bone is deposited over time. Or a mesh is used for hernia surgery (as was used for Bertie, our dog). Sometimes the mesh ‘dissolves’, if organic, or stays in situ, if – say – it’s a titanium mesh; see Wikipedia: Surgical Mesh and Wikipedia: Cranioplasty.
- Will it be addressed later? It might be important.
- This is along the right lines, but is somewhat vague and open to arbitrary decisions.
Footnote 97: Footnote 98:
- This is it’s ‘life’. I presume that Death – like Life – is a Process.
- Maybe we should adopt a Process Metaphysics for Organisms rather than a Substance metaphysics?
- ‘Cannot be restarted’ has modal implications. Presumably some organisms we normally take to be dead should – for fairly brief periods – be considered alive because their vital processes could be restarted with appropriate intervention?
Footnote 99: Footnote 102:
- I have downloaded this from Cambridge Core, but haven’t ‘processed’ it yet.
- A relevant passage from p. 157 is:-
- That for living things, to exist is to be alive, and
- That one function for which any organized body that is alive must have the capacity or 'psyche' is metabolic self-sustenance or trophe di hautou, and
- That the continued existence of such a living thing consists at least in the continuity of that capacity, so that for a specific kind F, being the same individual = being the same F = being the same threptikon F
Footnote 103: Footnote 104:
- This section introduces a – fairly brief – account of Olson’s ‘Thinking Animal Argument’, also known as his ‘Master Argument’. See my Note.
- It does seem fairly plausible, both as an Argument for Animalism and as ammunition against other accounts of PID.
- I wonder why it’s the ‘thinking’ of the animals that’s so important? After all, as Olson goes on to point out, there’s an animal doing lots of things that I’m doing: there will be too many sitters and typists as well as thinkers.
- Presumably there’s a reaction to Descartes’ Cogito here? Note also "O'Brien (Lucy) - Ambulo Ergo Sum" and the profane joke Coito Ergo Sum.
Footnote 105: Footnote 106:
- Historically, people would have said ‘a Soul’, where that thinking thing is not part of the animal, but this is ruled out in the context of the present discussion.
- That would be to deny that animals think, which Olson comes on to later.
Footnote 107: Footnote 108:
- Why is this such a great problem? The (supposedly) two thinkers share the same matter and configuration and are in the same place at the same time. It’s not as though there are two independent lots of thinking going on.
- The ‘derivative thinking’ central to the Constitution View (CV) is completely ignored as a possibility.
Footnote 109: Footnote 110:
- Yes, better not. In any case, idealism doesn’t deny that animals exist, only that they are not made of matter but are ideas in a mind.
- Yes – it becomes a Scattered Object.
- Mereological essentialism and mereological universalism seem to be linked.
- Is this really the case? Or is it just that organisms don’t Persist, at least not in any ‘strict and philosophical’ sense?
- Also, isn’t this what Exdurance says? There’s a ‘counterpart relation’ between the successive stages. I know that Olson has explicitly excluded any idea of temporal parts, but this was purely stipulative.
- Finally, as intimated earlier, Process Metaphysics might come to our aid.
- It means that no complex concrete particulars persist for long.
- This is not a very useful idea. Even if things don’t Persist – strictly speaking – we need to consider them as though they do.
- Even inanimate objects wouldn’t persist, though – as I’ve said – they would exist.
- Put thus baldly, the suggestion is absurd. Why would anyone be tempted by such ideas?
- Surely this is a misdescription? Eliminative materialism doesn’t eliminate thought or other elements of folk psychology as such but eliminates ‘Minds’ and propositional attitudes as anything over and above brains and what brains ‘do’.
- Maybe I need to look into this a bit more!
- See "Ramsey (William) - Eliminative Materialism".
- This used to be common sense. How could ‘mere matter’ be conscious, and all that.
- Now we know that our thinking is done for us by our brains, common sense that ‘mere matter’ must be able to think and be phenomenally conscious. It’s just that – for consciousness, at least – we have no idea how.
- Well, yes. There are very few non-physicalists around these days. Which materialists think that animals can’t?
- Surely the initial reaction to this strange locution is to understand ‘body’ as it contrast to ‘brain’?
Footnote 124: Footnote 125:
- Indeed. Our reactions need to be at the level of metaphysics (or – better – neuroscience) than linguistic.
- Another analogy. Is this a fair one?
- Yes, because it does – as Olson goes on to show – why certain ‘odd’ locutions – while true – sound preposterous.
- As I said, because it makes it sound like Newton’s body – as distinct from his brain – had the belief. Even that sounds odd in normal parlance: we say that ‘people’ believe x, not that their brains do. That’s partly because our linguistic practices arose before we knew how things work.
- Well, I’d say this was much more odd. Minds just aren’t the sort of thing that have spatial characteristics.
- Even mind-brain identity theorists would speak ‘oddly’ to claim that their mind could fit into a hat-box.
- But I agree with Olson that nothing metaphysically interesting follows from these linguistic conventions.
Footnote 130: Footnote 131: Footnote 132:
- This is a silly and pejorative way of putting things. It’s quite natural to say that an animal’s brain is in the business of thinking which the rest of its body is not.
- But we can leave this discussion until Chapter 4, just as Olson does.
- I misinterpreted this initially – that the being so caused needs to be you (for forensic reasons), and added that Parfit seems to deny – or at least downplay – this; but that – otherwise – it seems to be correct, and was the whole point of the ‘Forensic concept’ of PID.
- But I now see that this is a claim – based on the Psychological View – that such a being so caused to do things by your prior mental states is you … leading up to the claim that the recipient of your cerebrum is you.
- See my Note on Cerebrum and Brain Transplants.
- This Thought Experiment trades on is the Brain Transplant Intuition – that ‘you go where your brain goes’.
- This Intuition is very hard to resist, and resist it Olson does because he’s convinced that an Animalist ought to.
- I’d prefer to find another way out.
- There’s a general presumption in these thought experiments that cerebrums are like DIMMs (see Wikipedia: DIMMs) that can just be plugged in and will work fine in their new housing.
- It’s admitted that there are technical wiring problems yet to be overcome, but the idea of such transplants is not deemed to be metaphysically impossible.
- I’m not so sure about this. If we were androids with digital computers as brains then all would be relatively plain-sailing. At least the module would ‘fit’.
- But, given we’re talking about ‘us’ – human animals – we have to consider our actual architecture. In particular, how our brains acquire the abilities and contents they do and how tightly-integrated this makes them with the bodies they belong to.
- There’s also the issue of neurons distributed throughout the body in the PNS – not just to regulate it, but also assisting with emotions (the ‘feelings of the heart’ and ‘gut feelings’ have an element of truth to them). Not as bad as for the octopus, of course, which has its nervous system distributed throughout its body.
- That is because – according to Shoemaker – the being that has your beliefs and desires (properly caused) is you.
- Does it really ‘follow’, or is this an intuition or stipulation that appeared earlier in the TE?
- So, Psychological Continuity suffices for PID, but isn’t necessary? Anyway, the recipient of the Cerebrum is you, according to this view.
- For organisms, psychological continuity is neither necessary nor sufficient. The failure of sufficiency is explained by the (intuition of the) organism not persisting in the Cerebrum transplant case.
- I think this is correct – no animal moves with its cerebrum. How should we describe what would happen in a cerebrum transplant? Firstly, the scenario is – it seems – of a transplant of both hemispheres, which is the simpler scenario. There are basically three:-
- Single-cerebral-hemisphere transplants.
- Double-cerebral-hemisphere transplants.
- Whole brain transplants.
- Taking these cases one at a time:-
- SCTs: Well, the ‘donor’ animal loses some of its memories and abilities and capacity for thought. The ‘recipient’ animal might or might not be able to integrate this. If he could do so, and became convinced he was the donor, he’d be wrong, as in many other cases of fission or duplication. Olson later considers the case where the two hemispheres are transplanted individually into different donors.
- DCTs: Since the regulatory functions aren’t moved, the animal stays put. The donor, if he survives, has no mental life so is no longer a person but is still an animal, albeit a badly-mutilated one. If the recipient manages to integrate the new cerebrum, he’s probably just deceived into thinking he’s the donor animal. He’ll be mightily confused anyway, as any motor skills encoded in the received cerebrum most likely won’t work in the recipient’s body as they have been fine-tuned for another environment.
- WBTs: most people probably think – as I do – that a whole brain is a ‘maximally-mutilated human animal’ and that – if the transplant can be got to work – that you ‘go with your brain’.
- Where does this come from? Is this a conclusion that Shoemaker draws or that Olson foists on him? Does it only follow from Olson’s ‘Too many thinkers’ argument? Ie. because you are not the animal, and you think, and because you can only have one thinker, so the animal can’t be that thinker?
- So, Shoemaker hold to the CV? Human organisms think because they ‘constitute’ things with the right ‘identity conditions’?
Footnote 143: Footnote 144: Footnote 145:
- Well, it’s only Olson’s interpretation of Shoemaker’s view.
- It’s a deduction from what Shoemaker says, and can’t be what Shoemaker believes, … because it’s absurd.
- If Shoemakers holds some sort of constitution view, Olson should engage with it. Maybe he does, in the next Chapter. Until then, it’s just the same old yada yada.
- So, this allows ‘animalian’ phenomenal Consciousness, but not Consciousness of Self.
- But, it’s difficult to see how these could be separated in the same organism. Obviously, different organisms might pass or fail the ‘mirror test’, taken as a guide to whether the organism has a sense of self. But, how could the Animal associated with a person fail, but the Person pass?
- Baker combines these proposals (2000: 12-18, 68n., and 2002: 42). She says that human animals have thoughts requiring a “first-person perspective” only in the derivative sense of constituting non-animals (ourselves) that have them non-derivatively, while the opposite is the case for other thoughts: human animals have them non-derivatively and we have them derivatively. .
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View"
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - On Making Things Up: Constitution and Its Critics"
- Olson at least acknowledges Baker’s position, and I think he has it right.
- I do find the ‘two-way derivative thinking’ a little hard to credit. However, I’ll leave further thought on the matter (as no doubt does Olson) until Chapter 3: Constitution.
- I suppose, though, that ‘thinking in a different way’ might just be possible. I take it that the human animal thinks throughout more of its life than the human person does: before it has become a person and after it has ceased to be so. That’s on one of the views that distinguishes animals from persons (so, most views really: the PV, Temporal Parts View, Constitution View and even my own phase-sortal Animalism View). So, the animal can be thinking at times when the person is not, on account of non-existence. There is, however, only one thinker at this time.
- As we’ve noted, Baker alleges a 4th possible solution – Constitution – which Olson doesn’t seem to take seriously at this point.
- These ‘three ways’ are revealed during the rest of this Section, and are:-
- The Overcrowding Problem
- The Epistemic Problem
- The Personhood Problem
- As these are all explained as this Section progresses, I’ll comment on them ad loc. Enough to say here that I think there are satisfactory answers to them all.
- This ‘overcrowding problem’ is only an issue for those who take Persons and Human Animals to be separate substances and don’t adopt the Constitution View.
- No-one complains of overcrowding when we count the number of French citizens and the number of philosophers at a philosophy conference and find the total exceed the number of attendees to the tune of the number of French philosophers.
- Olson enjoys himself with his examples, but they are all beside the point and only cogent in Philosophy 101.
- This shows how silly all this lampooning is.
- Bigamy is a crime (where it is) for reasons of property-rights (given that adultery isn’t a crime, where it isn’t). Where the animal and person cannot ‘go their separate ways’, this isn’t an issue. However, it would become an issue were there to be two cerebral hemispheres to go into different heads. Then we’d need to decide who was who. But, until that contingency, there’s no practical issue, even for Roland Puccetti and Commissurotomy.
- Does Olson consider Multiple Personality Disorder anywhere?
- See "Lewis (David) - Many, But Almost One".
- I think this is a perfectly satisfactory response.
- There’s no reason to expect our natural language usage to track how things are in detail (below the surface), as this usage arose in a haphazard manner in a pre-scientific age and was subject to all sorts of cultural prejudices.
- Besides, few philosophers think that there a ‘really’ two things that we count as one.
- There are all sorts of philosophical puzzles that fall under this head.
- Well, it depends on the situation. Some philosophical positions may well be absurd (David Lewis mentions the ‘incredulous stare’ in response to his modal realism).
- But you can’t write off all philosophers of language as though they Mafia lawyers.
- Personally, I agree that Time is ‘real’; yet, time isn’t Newtonian and can be counter-intuitive, especially how simultaneity is determined in Special Relativity.
- So, things are often not as straightforward as they seem.
Footnote 155: Footnote 156:
- But these philosophers of language also – in general – don’t believe there are two different philosophers sitting there. They may think there are two ways of referring to the same philosopher, or that the philosopher shares stages with an animal. Nor do they believe that there are 1,001 cats sitting on the mat.
- Again, this worry assumes that there are two independent persons – or a person utterly distinct from, though qualitatively identical to, the human animal. The holder of the constitution view would say – perfectly intelligibly – that you – a person – are presently constituted by an animal. You know you are fundamentally a Person, but derivatively an animal by virtue of being constituted by one.
- Maybe this is wrong, but they don’t have any epistemological worries.
- You are both, in different senses of ‘are’.
This objection of Olson sounds like the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy. It’s also related to Gettier problems about what constitutes knowledge.
The example is rather contrived. How about …
Say George III, in his demented state, wandering around incognito in Windsor Great Park, claims to a passer-by to be George III. Would he be believed? No. Would he be justified in his claim, given that he is in fact George III (just as in Olson’s TE, Olson was in fact Napoleon)? Both claims are unlikely; claims by maniacs to be famous persons are usually false – that to be Napoleon only seems to be more unlikely because most analytic philosophers don’t believe in Reincarnation. Footnote 159:
- Someone might think that this problem arises only on an "internalist" epistemology. If you are the person and not the animal, the idea would go, then your belief that that is what you are is guaranteed to be true, and so is reliably formed, and so counts as knowledge. I don't think any serious epistemologist would endorse this reasoning. Suppose I come to believe, in an insane delusion, that I am Napoleon. And suppose I am in fact Napoleon reincarnated. Finally, suppose that who I am has no influence on who, in my demented state, I believe myself to be. Then my belief is guaranteed to be true; yet it has no epistemic virtue whatever, and certainly doesn’t count as knowledge.
Footnote 161: Footnote 162:
- Well, it does count as a person, either in the innocuous ‘phase sortal’ sense or as constituting one. Or a temporal part of it does. This – the personhood problem – is just the other two problems in another guise.
Footnote 163: Footnote 164:
- This is the second of the ‘3 ways’ in which Olson says (in the previous section) that the ‘Cohabitation View’ is unattractive, the other two being the Overcrowding Problem and the Personhood Problem.
- This claim – Persons persisting in virtue of mental qualities – is not ‘surprising’ – as Olson tendentiously claims – but is part and parcel of the Psychological View.
- This claim – having mental properties essentially – is also foundational to the PV, so isn’t ‘surprising’ either.
- Is this really Noonan’s position? Contingencies of our language can have no metaphysical implications as to what we are, can they? This is just – at most – ‘what we consider ourselves to be’.
- This is true. Human Animals do not persist in virtue of mental properties, nor do they have any such properties essentially, as Olson is fond of – but correctly – pointing out.
- That is, to Persons. Is this really Noonan’s position? It’s clearly false; as is the etymological suggestion behind ‘personal pronouns’; even the gendered pronouns are used of dogs and ships, and ‘it’ is used of stones.
- Unlike the previous ‘contingency of language’ this is a perfectly respectable idea, with no metaphysical implications, though I believe it to be false. But nothing can be deduced metaphysically from our linguistic practice (though Wittgenstein pointed out that many metaphysical pseudo-problems arise from the ‘bewitchment of language’.
Footnotes 171, 173: Footnote 172:
- Again, tendentious words. The positions and associated arguments need to be taken seriously.
- This is all ‘same old same old’.
- No-one thinks that first-person thoughts aren’t thought by the being that thinks them. That’s what all this discussion about language is all about.
- No-one thinks you and ‘your’ animal are as distinct as Tom and Jerry, or even Jekyll and Hyde.
Footnote 174: Footnote 175:
- Why ‘revisionism’?
- Earlier, Noonan had claimed – maybe falsely – that this theory is a contingent fact about how our language works.
Wouldn’t the last point – that animals aren’t persons – be just what the whole argument is about?
Noonan would presumably be happy, and Olson’s third problem – the ‘Personhood Problem’, that Animals are persons – would disappear? Footnote 176:
- Could a being that cannot refer to itself in the first person be self-conscious? Well, pronoun revisionists agree that human animals have first-person thoughts just like our own. All that prevents them from referring to themselves in the first person, the idea goes, is the contingent linguistic fact that we (and they) use the personal pronouns to refer only to psychological continuers. We could change the way we talk, so that our personal pronouns referred only to beings with animal persistence conditions. If we did that, we should be unable to refer to ourselves in the first person, though our mental lives would otherwise remain unchanged. Would that deprive us of our capacity for self-consciousness? Not in any important sense, surely. Someone might point out, however, that according to pronoun revisionism a human animal could not “think of itself as itself”, and would therefore fail to satisfy Locke’s definition of ‘person’.
- Well, indeed it couldn’t. But no-one thinks it could. You can’t ‘know and love’ a human animal apart from knowing and loving the human person. There just aren’t two beings there. This discussion just goes round and round in circles.
- To be fair to Olson, the problems he raises do need to be ‘solved’. It’s just that the holders of non-Animalist views think they are solved – if their views are properly understood – while Olson disagrees.
- I agree. But it’s part of the defence of these alternatives, not their primary motivation.
- I don’t think this dichotomy properly reflects the options open to non-Animalists. Holders of the Constitution View would certainly disagree. But we’ll have to move on from this until taking a serious look at those forms of the PV that do seem subject to these options only.
Footnote 180: Footnote 181: Footnote 182:
- This is important. For Olson, Animalism rests on the Thinking Animal Argument which – he thinks – shows that if we are not animals, then either human animals cannot think as we do or we cannot know that we are not animals.
- My view is that the Animalist shouldn’t rest his case on the TA Argument, but on an abductive argument that Animalism is the default position and best answers all the puzzles cases.
- See my Note on Animalism – Arguments For
Footnote 183: Footnote 184: Footnote 185:
- Yet, some eminent philosophers are Dualists (usually for religious reasons; doubly misguided in my view).
- See my Note on Christian Materialists, which has a long list of non-Materialists, though it doesn’t say what their motivation is.
- As Olson treats dualism seriously, and has Chapter 7: Souls devoted to it, the espousal of Dualism may be motivated by other reasons than arguing that Matter cannot think.
- See my Note on Embryos.
- Most people think we started off as Embryos, apart from extreme ‘pro-lifers’ who think we started as Zygotes. The latter idea is rejected by most philosophers because of the possibility of Twinning (see "Anscombe (G.E.M.) - Were You a Zygote?").
- Recently, it has been argued (by Elselijn Kingma) that Fetuses are part of the mother, and so the new Human Animal doesn’t arise until birth, by a process of Fission. Olson’s ante-natal argument wouldn’t work in this case.
- But, most holders of the Psychological View or the Constitution View, believing that we are essentially psychological beings, would agree that we were never fetuses.
- Most would say that the embryo ‘developed into’ the adult human animal, but they might not all say that it ‘was’ the very same individual.
- Not just those who believe that the implanted embryo is part of the mother, either.
- The embryo isn’t really a self-sustaining organism. It’s totally dependent on the mother for oxygen, nutrition and other support (though this may be analogous to adult humans on ‘life support’).
- The same is true of the early-term fetus. That’s why Abortion is legal for any reason up to a certain point, after all.
- By the time all are agreed that the fetus is an independent being deserving of our protection it will have developed a rudimentary psychology of its own.
- I need to check up precisely what Baker’s position on this. When does she think the FPP develops? I think when the development of the FPP is ‘around the corner’ the fetus receives honorary personhood status, at least.
- At least the situation isn’t as clear-cut as Olson claims.
- See my Note on Persistent Vegetative State.
- This is probably a clearer indication than the ‘fetus’ situation, but it’s still not incontestable.
- Some people – even in the case of Brain Death – claim that their loved one is still ‘fighting’. They are probably wrong. See Wikipedia: Archie Battersbee Case.
- But in the case of a PVS, it’s never clear whether the state is irreversible, nor even – given the necessarily non-invasive monitoring – whether there isn’t some cognition ‘going on in there somewhere’ (if there is, the situation might well be worse than death, so we may hope not).
- Note that holders of the PV allow for periods with no psychological activity (dreamless Sleep – though – in fact – there’s all sorts of activity – including Memory-consolidation – going on in the brain during non-REM sleep; see "Walker (Matthew P.) - Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams"). The alternative would be to allow Intermittent Objects.
- So, the jury is out until the animal has died and there’s no possibility of recovery.
- Again, the situation isn’t as clear-cut as Olson claims.
- Philosophers must like oysters; they seem to feature in multiple contexts: the other I know of is the ‘higher pleasures’ problem for utilitarianism, with oysters clocking up the ‘hedons’ and outscoring Socrates.
- Whether patients in a PVS are like oysters – or really like plants – is an empirical matter.
- I agree with Olson – as would most philosophers. So, this may make Human Organisms and Human Persons ‘come apart’.
- I think all parties to the debate – despite quibbles – probably agree that if (the possibility of having) psychological states is an essential property of a Person then, if you are a person essentially, you are not numerically identical to a human animal.
- Olson has a way of saying the opposite of what most people believe as though it’s either common sense or philosophically obvious.
- Indeed they don’t; nor would they thinks this were the unfortunate individual brain-stem dead (when Olson would probably agree that the Organism had died.
- The reasons are multifarious, but usually rest on hopes for a recovery, or beliefs that they are in there somewhere ‘fighting’.
- It is popularly believed, though, that no-one can survive irreversible loss of consciousness. It’s just that no-one, when it comes to it, comfortably believes that such a state has come to pass.
- We can’t deduce anything from popular beliefs on the matter.
Footnotes 194, 195, 196: Footnote 197:
- This is an important point, with which I’m in total agreement.
- Matters of value are orthogonal to those of metaphysics, despite PID being a Forensic Concept.
Footnote 198: Footnote 199:
- Is this the case? I suppose it depends which cases are ‘normal’ and who you ask.
- I wish Olson had said ‘some sorts of psychological continuity are …’.
- The intuition of most people is that if it appears to us that we have survived, then we have. If it seems from our FPP that we’re still there, then we are.
- Now in some TEs, it seems this Intuition is unreliable: a duplicate would be deceived as to the true situation. Backward Psychological Continuity isn’t enough.
- However, it might – just – be possible for you to (appear to) survive some adventure fully conscious throughout. See my Note on Psychological Continuity – Forward. In that case would not direct experience of Survival trump any metaphysical argument?
- Unfortunately most TEs would be excruciatingly painful without loss of consciousness, so the situation would never be put to the test, hopefully.
- The FPP is very important. Everything that matters to us is delivered through this (though – I might add – non-human Animals also have a ‘window on the world – a ‘perspective’ in the ‘first person’ – though they are mostly not Persons and may not have Selves, if there are any such things).
- This thought experiment, like most, is under-described. As I’ve said before, the cerebral hemispheres aren’t DIMMs that can be unplugged and re-plugged. Who knows whether any useful psychological properties would be ‘transferred’ and would become the property of the recipient animal?
- As noted – and as Olson argues – this isn’t sufficient for ‘being you’.
- The question whether the Transplant will work isn’t just a technical challenge never likely to be achieved, but there are questions over its coherence as a TE.
- The cerebrum contains a Cortical homunculus (see Wikipedia: Cortical Homunculus); in fact, two – one for the senses, the other for motor coordination. Now these are mapped on to a particular body, with connections and weights established as the fetus developed and fine-tuned as we learnt to control our bodies and do all the things we’re good at. You can’t just plug this in to a new body and expect it to work. Maybe – over time – it could be rewired, but initially the recipient ‘person’ would be entirely insensate and paralysed.
- Also, we don’t know which bits of the brain are necessary for ‘generating’ Consciousness and the FPP. It might require sub-cortical areas or even the PNS.
- We’d be more confident with head Transplants – better described as Body Transplants – and better than Whole Brain Transplants (because of the integration with the major senses) though the same paralysis would occur.
- Why is all this important? All this has to do with arguments that ‘we would go with our cerebrum’, but if this TE is metaphysically impossible, any argument depending on it would fail.
- Well, if it could be got to work and did preserve your FPP, that would be a sensible deduction. It would show that you were not an animal. But I don’t think the TE makes sense on closer inspection.
- Is this anything other than an Intuition?
- I share this intuition, but not so for a whole brain transplant (or a head transplant).
Footnote 205: Footnote 206:
- Agreed … it’s not an organism. But the Brain’s controlling, organisational and phenomenal functions make it – or parts of it – more important than other organs.
- This is hyperbolic language. The head isn’t really empty. As Olson goes on to say, it contains the brain stem and presumably other structures of the brain.
- Maybe so; it's not clear to me just how much cortical damage an animal can survive. I suspect rats have been subjected to such procedures.
- ‘Seeming’ isn’t really enough as it can be a superficial assessment. Does Olson mean ‘it arguably is’? I would agree.
- I think the TE is best described as two Human Animals having had their cerebrums destroyed and nothing of any use transferred from one to the other.
- I agree. But, as I said earlier, things are more complicated as more and more of the brain is transplanted.
- Fusion is more difficult to describe than Fission. Is there any correct way? It’s not just that our Concepts aren’t up to it; nor is ‘Nature’.
- I think this ‘just as’ is designed to annoy people.
- Livers are fungible, once ‘rejection’ problems are overcome. Provided they do their job, who cares where they came from. The same is not the case with our brains – or the most significant parts of them. They are not just ‘another organ’, not even in this context.
- To keep track of the argument, the sections on the termini of life demonstrated failure of ‘necessity’. Cerebrum transplants are supposed to demonstrate failure of ‘sufficiency’ (of psychological continuity for the persistence of animals).
- Although I am not sure whether I have understood them, Wiggins (1980: 160-163) and McDowell (1997: 237) seem to disagree with me about this. For more on this matter see Olson 1997a: 109-119, and §7.7
I’m not surprised that Olson doesn’t understand David Wiggins and John McDowell. They are so worried about being casually misunderstood that they ensure they can’t be understood at all. I see from Wikipedia: David Wiggins that Wiggins ‘influenced’ McDowell.
I seem to have read the McDowell, 18 years ago, but can remember nothing of it. It’s doubtless important, so I need to re-read it and add the Notes I’d intended!
As for Wiggins, the passage alluded to is short: Section 5. ‘The charge of circularity rephrased and reconsidered as a charge of non-effectiveness’ of Chapter 6 ("Wiggins (David) - Personal Identity (S&S)"). I should just read the whole of this Chapter. However, I ought also to consult Chapter 7 ("Wiggins (David) - Personal Identity") of "Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance Renewed". The Chapter has been completely rewritten, and the original may not represent Wiggins’s later views. Footnote 214:
- "Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance"
- "McDowell (John) - Reductionism and the First Person"
- "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology"
- From its logic, identity is a necessary relation. So, Olson is right if the ’is’ is the ‘is’ of identity (rather than of constitution, which is contingent; if I’m constituted by this animal I’m only contingently so constituted; that’s the whole point). See (eventually) my Note on Modality.
Footnote 216: Footnote 217:
- This is a useful summary. As with all syllogistic arguments, we have a choice between modus ponens and modus tollens. I’ve tended to treat it as the former, while in the context it should be treated as the latter.
- I’d not really considered it as an Objection to Animalism but rather as an awkward and counter-intuitive consequence.
- This division– though not transplantation – occurs in Commissurotomy, of course.
- But, this whole TE seems to rely on the idempotency of the Cerebral Hemispheres. Otherwise – given asymmetry and lateral specialisation, only part of the (supposed) person would be transplanted. There are odd features in the Psychology of patients who have had a Commissurotomy to alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy, but the two hemispheres can communicate via external cues. This wouldn’t be possible if only one hemisphere was transplanted.
- Also, if the hemispheres really were idempotent, wouldn’t the Person already have Fissioned?
- It is difficult to imagine how fissioning would be experienced. Presumably the two idempotent hemispheres could be kept synchronised via the corpus collosum, maybe being used alternately and ‘backed up’. But they would start to diverge once the corpus collosum was cut.
- Maybe this idempotency occurs in cetaceans which Sleep with one hemisphere at a time?
Yes. Perdurantists would say that there were two Persons inhabiting the animal all the time, sharing stages, but this was only revealed when fissioning took place. Footnote 219:
- Advocates of the temporal-parts view have a way of denying this claim: see §5.7.
- Of course, this depends what we are, as Olson will go on to discuss.
- What’s the logic behind this claim?
- This sounds like a garbling of Parfit’s question – what matters in survival (‘not Identity’, is the claim).
- This seems to be a bungled version of the Future Great Pain Test devised to tease out our Survival Intuitions in "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future".
- The reason it’s bungled is that – in this case – it doesn’t clearly show who you think you’ll be after the operation.
- In this case, you know that – in extracting your cerebrum for transplant – without anaesthetic you’ll be in unbearable pain while your skull is cut open and the painstaking work of extracting your Cerebrum takes place. Meanwhile the recipient – who is not you at this point on anyone’s account – will be ‘happily’ unconscious undergoing a similar operation. After this, who knows whether the transplant will work. The cerebrum itself feels no pain, and it might take years to ‘bed in’ to the recipient’s body, if it ever does, by which time the peripheral surgery will have healed. So, even if I thought I went with my cerebrum, I’d choose that the donor should receive the morphine.
- It should be phrased in Williams’s way – the evil scientist will mercilessly torture either the cerebrum donor or the cerebrum recipient after the successful transplant. Selfishly, which would you – the donor – ‘prefer’ to be tortured? Well, if you believe you ‘go with your cerebrum’ you’d clearly say ‘the donor of your cerebrum’, because by then you’d have made your escape, you’d think.
- Well, it would if the TE is repaired as suggested above.
- What’s the logic behind these claims?
- If you thought – for whatever reason – that fission was identity preserving, you’d care for both (on the grounds that the fission process had already taken place prior to the transplants, or for other reasons).
- But, if you were convinced on logical grounds that neither could be you, then you’d want the donor to receive the morphine.
- This is – sort of – analogous to Intuitions about whether Teletransportation is a form of transport or a means of dying.
- The idea behind the FGPT is to get the philosopher to really think about the issue. Nothing so focuses the mind as the prospect of being hanged (Mark Twain: The prospect of hanging focuses the mind or Samuel Johnson: The prospect of hanging focuses the mind).
See "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology", "Olson (Eric) - Why We Need Not Accept the Psychological Approach", Sections IV – VII.
Which claims about what matters? Footnote 226:
- I say more about this in Olson 1997a: 52-70. Whether any of these claims about what matters in identity are true is another matter.
- While this is true, I don’t think this is the key point, which is that what we experience, whether gross or refined, is all that matters to us. Even the hedonists want it to be they themselves that experience their debaucheries.
- I suppose we’re to ask at this point – and maybe should have earlier – what’s it like in the envisioned circumstances? Is it supposed that the recipient of your Cerebrum, feels himself to be you? Well, yes – that’s the point. Is he deceived? Well, maybe but does this matter? How are ‘you’ supposed to experience what goes on? If you – a convinced animalist – receive the cerebrum of someone else, do you suddenly experience someone else’s psychology? And does the recipient of your cerebrum suddenly gain your psychology? What happens to your FPP?
- Unless we can answer these questions, the TE is underspecified.
Footnote 228: Footnote 229:
- I’m more interested – as an Animalist – on what it feels like to be the donor. I suppose you’d lapse into a PVS, having lost most of your brain, so it wouldn’t feel like anything?
- And would it feel like you’d gone under the anaesthetic and never woken up, or would it feel like you’d woken up in a new body, which – almost on a technicality – isn’t you (or – as this is an indexical; I’m always me – isn’t the individual I – the experiencer – thought I was)?
- Well, people tend to choose their candidate theory of PID in accord with their needs – particularly on post-mortem survival.
- But you can’t ‘choose’ which of two beings is you.
Footnote 231: Footnote 232:
- Well, maybe. But most think we ‘are’ animals in that that’s what our bodies are but think we can escape our animality in some way.
Footnote 233: Footnote 234:
- I don’t find the epistemological aspect of the TA Argument worrying.
- Olson’s non-standard terminology makes this claim sound silly. But it’s true that – for the Animalist – we are only temporarily and contingently Persons.
- Quite why this is seen as objectionable will emerge later in this Section.
- Hmmm … so Baker is right that Olson doesn’t Take Persons Seriously!
- I suppose – if you don’t take Person to be a Natural Kind concept, but a term invented for human purposes, maybe not all of them benign, then
- But it’s a Forensic term, and has lots of moral and legal implications.
- This is where Olson and Baker part company.
- Baker thinks we are Persons essentially and Animals contingently, and Olson vice versa.
- ‘Being’ is a tricky concept. Again, Olson’s terminology seems designed to antagonise his opponents.
- Olson is talking metaphysics, where his opponents are often talking Narrative Identity. When people say that something (maybe a character trait, or an interest) is ‘part of their very being’ – part of what makes them ‘them’ – they are talking about Narrative Identity. Appearing to trivialise this ‘existential’ aspect just annoys people.
- This follows from treating person as an honorific or a Phase Sortal (like ‘Professor’).
- Maybe there are – or we could devise – persistence conditions for Professors qua Professors. I won’t try that here.
- But philosophers (and people generally) think the persistence conditions for Persons are psychological. They think it’s possible for an individual no longer to be ‘the same person’. I think what they are referring to is a radical change of Personality, and best described that way, but others think it’s more than that – that such a change can undermine some of the Forensic aspects of Personhood, such as abrogating promises and vows made in one’s foolish youth, or having people ignore your ‘future directives’ when one is a dribbling old fogey who no longer wants to be put down.
- Again, this assumes that ‘Person’ is not a Substance-term in its own right, and that Persons take their persistence criteria from the substance that constitutes them (‘constitution’ here taken in the informal sense).
- But, it might be possible – and people have had many an attempt – to devise (or discover) persistence conditions for persons qua persons. A waste of effort, in my view.
- That’s what Olson claims.
- It looks to me that Olson has just assumed this. He thinks it’s self-evident – because gods have different persistence conditions from animals (one may assume).
- He’s so convinced that the ‘Thinking x Argument’ doesn’t allow two substances to be in the same place at the same time that he always has the person as being the same thing as whatever else ‘is’ that person, and so the person’s persistence conditions are subsumed under that other thing.
- This would be "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Materialism with a Human Face".
- This paper claims to be a succinct exposition and defence of the Constitution View, so it should be worth reading before either Olson’s Chapter 3: Constitution or Baker’s "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View".
- According to "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Review of 'What Are We? A Study in Personal Ontology' by Eric T. Olson", Olson confuses Constitution with Composition. If so, this will seriously undermine his critiques.
- In fact, Baker makes this distinction explicit in her introduction to "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Materialism with a Human Face", so it’s surprising to see that Olson ignores it.
- The reason may well be that the reference is incorrect. The page numbers cited from "Corcoran (Kevin), Ed. - Soul, Body and Survival: Essays on the Metaphysics of Human Persons", in which "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Materialism with a Human Face" appears, are to another paper entirely. I suspect the reference should be to "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View", Baker 2000: 218-20, which is the start of the section ‘Taking Persons Seriously’ of Chapter 9: "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - In Favour Of the Constitution View".
- But "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Materialism with a Human Face" was an excellent tip off! I’m reminded from this paper that – for Baker – the FPP – which for her is definitive of Personhood – is much more than the ‘window on the world’ shared by other animals, but it the introspective Lockean ‘considering oneself as oneself.
Footnote 244: Footnote 245:
- Is this a fair comparison? Does Baker use it?
- As Olson notes elsewhere, he’s not interested in PID as such, but in ‘our’ identity. He thinks PID – asking for the reidentification of persons – makes an assumption that he wishes to challenge. He’s retained the subject topic PID for reasons of historical continuity.
- I think Olson leans too heavily on the TA Argument.
- It doesn’t seem necessary to invoke it in this circumstance. The abductive – inference to the best explanation – argument is sufficient, in my view, and is not open to counter-arguments.
- Baker thinks that being a Person makes an Ontological difference – that some ontological novelty arises when we have a person.
- I agree with this – but would claim that the ‘novelty’ arose (maybe vaguely) when Homo Sapiens (or a prior hominin) evolved the mental capacity for personhood: achieved a FPP in Baker’s terms.
- Baker thinks the ‘novelty’ arises for each individual when they develop their FPP, but – if I remember correctly – is a little shaky on whether it’s the capacity itself or the ‘certain’ capacity to develop one. She denies it to early-term fetuses, but may have them as persons in an honorary capacity.
- But I agree with Olson that choosing introspective self-awareness as the definitive characteristic of persons can appear arbitrary.
Footnote 249: Footnote 250:
- I agree with Olson here, but not because of the TA Argument.
- The difference in persistence conditions is sufficient – provided we can otherwise refute all the apparatus of the Constitution View.
- ‘Diachronic identity’ is the identity relation between one thing at different times.
- Synchronic identity is the identity relation between the same thing picked out in two different ways at the same time.
- I’m not sure how this ties in with Olson’s usage.
- See my Note on the Logic of Identity.
- On reflection, I suppose this is correct.
- While Olson is clearly right in the normal case, does animalism have an agreement of counting ‘persons’ in psychopathological cases?
- Maybe it does. Animalism treats ‘person’ much as it treats ‘professor’. If someone is a professor at both Oxford and (visiting) at Cambridge, then such a person only counts as one professor, not two.
Footnote 254: Footnote 255: Footnote 256:
- This is all well said, as an account of the Psychological View.
- Does animalism really care whether a human animals happens to ‘run’ more than one person – in this sense – at the same time?
- I agree … with Olson’s next sentence and ensuing discussion. It’d be a fudge, at best.
- The same old epistemological non-worry.
Footnote 260: Footnote 261:
- See "Olson (Eric) - Was Jekyll Hyde?".
- I agree with Olson here. The ‘psychological individuation principle’ may possibly be useful in some clinical, legal or ethical circumstances, but it has no metaphysical standing.
- For more objections to animalism see Baker 2001: 12-18 and 122-124, Snowdon 2003, Olson 2004, and Hershenov 2005.
I’ll chase up these ‘more serious worries for animalism’ later, and add them to my Note Animalism - Objections if they are not already there.
It’s not clear here whether the papers above list them all, or whether Olson has some further ones up his sleeve.
- Chapter 9: What Now?
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Materialism with a Human Face"; but – as before – the page numbers don’t construe. Olson may be referring to "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View", Chapters 1 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons in the Material World") and 5 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Personal Identity Over Time", Sub-Section 2 ‘Sameness of person consists of sameness of living organism (Animalism)’).
- "Snowdon (Paul) - Some Objections to Animalism"
- "Olson (Eric) - Animalism and the Corpse Problem"
- "Hershenov (David) - Do Dead Bodies Pose a Problem for Biological Approaches to Personal Identity"
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