Was I Ever a Fetus? ('New Version')
Olson (Eric)
Source: R. Nichols et al., eds., Philosophy Through Science Fiction, Routledge 2008.
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Was I ever a fetus1? Is it possible for a human fetus2 to become you or me or some other person? It would certainly seem so. Both folk wisdom and biological science tell us that each of us spent several months in the womb before we were born. How could anyone think otherwise? But many philosophers do think otherwise. At any rate, most recent thinking about personal identity clearly entails that no person was ever a five-month-old fetus3, and that no such fetus4 ever comes to be a person.
  2. By ‘personal identity’ I mean the question of personal identity over time: what it takes for a person to persist from one time to another. What sorts of adventures is it possible for you to survive, in the broadest sense of the word ‘possible’? And what sort of thing would necessarily bring your existence to an end? What is necessary, and what suffices, for a past or future being to be you? Suppose you point to a little boy or girl in an old class photograph and say, “That’s me.” What makes you that boy or girl, and not, say, one of the others? What is it about the way she relates to you as you are now that makes it the case that she is you – that you and she are one rather than two?

Comment:

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Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

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  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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