Thesis - Chapter 01 (Introduction)
Todman (Theo)
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Write-up2 (as at 03/02/2019 21:33:07): Thesis - Chapter 01 (Introduction)

  • The Thesis seems to fall naturally into three sections (other than this Introduction and the Conclusion); namely,
    1. Setting up the problem (Chapters 2-5),
    2. Olson and Baker’s views contrasted (Chapters 6-9); and
    3. Testing the preferred solution (Chapters 10-11).
  • Consequently, I intend my Thesis to have the following chapters:-
    1. Chapter 01: Introduction
    2. Chapter 023: What are We?
    3. Chapter 034: What is a Person?
    4. Chapter 045: Basic Metaphysical Issues
    5. Chapter 056: Persistence and Time
    6. Chapter 067: Animalism and Arguments for It
    7. Chapter 078: The Constitution View and Arguments for It
    8. Chapter 089: Arguments against Animalism
    9. Chapter 0910: Arguments against the Constitution View
    10. Chapter 1011: Thought Experiments
    11. Chapter 1112: Resurrection
    12. Chapter 1213: Conclusion

Research Methodology
  • Follow this Link14 for a generic statement of how I intend to pursue each Chapter.
  • The method is broken down into 12, possibly iterative, stages.
  • Follow this Link15 for my progress dashboard on these tasks.
  • The methodology for this Chapter differs somewhat from most other Chapters in that there is little real work, other than background reading and checking that the Thesis as a whole hangs together.
  • However, I do need to record while reading the general surveys anything that needs to go into the Historical Survey or Motivating Statement.
  • Another couple of “clearing up” tasks16 specific to this Chapter are:-
    1. To ensure that all the Papers on Identity that I have actually read are referenced somewhere17 in this Thesis.
    2. To ensure that all the Notes on Identity that I have actually produced are referenced somewhere18 in this Thesis.

Motivating Statement19
  1. Why should we care about the topic of personal identity and the possibility of life after death? Put this way, the question hardly needs answering, as it’s just about the most important question to be posed by a reflective (if selfish) person. Yet, the question is difficult, and has had many attempted solutions offered – and while some philosophers think there is no problem left to solve, there is no consensus as to the answer.
  2. My favourite solution – in the sense of the one I think most likely to be correct, rather than necessary the one I’d like to be correct – namely Animalism – that we are human animals and that consequently death is the end of us – is only supported by around 17% of philosophers, according to a recent poll20 with about twice as many supporting some form of psychological view.
  3. In one sense it is just obvious that we are – in some sense of that weasel word – human animals. But then the problem cases kick in – whether real-life or thought experiments that may never be real-life possibilities.
  4. About 36% of the respondents in the aforementioned survey though we could survive teletransportation – though 31% thought that the result would be death.
  5. Transhumanists think we can be uploaded to computers.
  6. Further detail to be supplied21.

Main Text
  • For convenience, brief abstracts (as currently intended) of the above chapters are given below. I have included on-going hyperlinks from the above links to my initial thoughts on these topics (and to reading lists and plans for further research) by way of further clarification. The reading lists are rather full, and I’ll need to whittle them down to those I actually intend to read (and, better, address).
  • Chapter Abstracts
    1. Introduction: See above for a motivating statement and below for a brief historical general survey of the topic of Personal Identity.
    2. What are We22: The topic “personal identity” has historically presupposed that we are (in the sense of “identical to”, or “most fundamentally”) persons, whereas I (along with other animalists) claim that we are identical to human animals. “We” requires explanation. This chapter will sort out the topic of discussion for the Thesis as a whole.
    3. What is a Person?23: This chapter will canvass the various views and consider how important issues in this area are to my main concern of our identity.
    4. Basic Metaphysical Issues24: Substances and sortals are central to the persistence of anything, and in particular to my claim that persons are phase sortals of human animals (the substances). I need to address the concept of a SOUL as souls are the major counter-claim to the persisting entity being an animal; or at least popularly so. The question of Natural Kinds arises in considering whether PERSON is a natural kind concept.
    5. Persistence and Time25: A number of thought experiments that feature in Chapter 10 seem to fail if perdurantism is true (because the reduplication objections fail). Depending on whether any of these are critical to my arguments, I may need to consider the impact of perdurantism. But this complex area may be a step too far within a fairly limited word-count. I’m also unsure whether it should feature before or after the account of Thought Experiments.
    6. Animalism and Arguments for it26: This Chapter describes what Animalism is, with an excursus on animals and organisms and their persistence. It puts forward the arguments in favour of animalism, those against being reserved for a later Chapter. It focuses on the account of Eric Olson, the primary contemporary exponent of Animalism.
    7. The Constitution View and Arguments for it27: This Chapter gives an account of Lynne Rudder Baker’s thesis that human persons are not identical to human animals, but are – temporarily at least – constituted by them.
    8. Arguments against Animalism28: A discussion of the arguments against animalism, as given by those of anti-animalist persuasion and defended by the principal animalists (with a focus on Olson), with a critique.
    9. Arguments against the Constitution View29: A discussion of the arguments against the Constitution View, focusing on the principal animalists, with a critique. In particular, I intend to critique Olson’s “thinking animal” argument30 against the Constitution View (though I think this argument is unnecessary for Olson to establish the case for Animalism).
    10. Thought Experiments31: Any account of personal identity needs to give an account of what is going on in the various thought experiments that have been thought relevant to the topic. It’s also the area that’s most fun. Indeed, I think that the entire Thesis will be an exercise in inference to the best explanation. It needs to account for our intuitions (if there is a universal response) or explain them away as confused. I will firstly briefly consider the propriety of using thought experiments in this domain of enquiry, and then consider the usual suspects, including the following:-
      • Fission
      • Fusion
      • Replication
      • Commissurotomy
      • Multiple Personality Disorder
      • Brain-state Transfer
      • Brain Transplants
      • Teletransportation
      • Siliconisation
      • Transhumanism
    11. Resurrection32: If mind-body substance dualism is false, and we are identical to human animals, then the only possibility for post-mortem existence is some form of bodily resurrection. Since the body is destroyed at death, it would seem that any resurrected individual could only be a copy of the original. It might think of itself as the resurrected pre-mortem individual, but it would be wrong. Consideration of arguments by Peter Van Inwagen in this respect. This chapter is likely to be controversial, so needs to be very carefully argued, and factually correct concerning what is actually believed by intellectually-aware Christians and Muslims (unlike what seems to be the case with most swipes against religion). Maybe I should also cover reincarnation.
    12. Conclusion33:
      • We are human animals,
      • Human persons fall under phase sortals of the concept HUMAN ANIMAL,
      • The person is inseparable from the animal,
      • The animal is utterly destroyed at death,
      • Substance dualism is false, and
      • Consequently (given the sort of thing we are) resurrection or any other post-mortem survival is impossible for us.

Brief historical general survey of the topic of Personal Identity
  1. To be supplied34.

Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed35
  1. In this Chapter I will consider the following papers or book chapters (together with some others referenced by these). There are doubtless many more that are relevant and which will be addressed in the course of the thesis, but these are probably sufficient to get us going.
  2. The purpose of this Chapter is to introduce and motivate the Thesis. As such, I need to situate it in the history of the topic. This is done in a number of introductory books, General Surveys, or collections of Papers that are standard fodder in courses on Personal Identity.
  3. Consequently, I will review the various Surveys of Personal Identity that feature in the standard reading lists, both to demonstrate that I’ve read them, and to ensure I’ve missed nothing major.
  4. If a Paper in a Collection or Chapter in an Introduction is specific to a later Chapter in this Thesis, its consideration may be reserved until a later Chapter, even if the Book itself is not. These will be noted in due course.
  5. As the topic of Personal Identity stems primarily from Locke’s account, I need a brief statement of what this is. Most of the relevant material will appear in due course in the anthologies, but I few items not anthologised are listed below.
  6. Other works were considered and either cut or reserved for later, as indicated below. The easiest way to see all the works considered is via the reading list at the end of this Note.
  7. Introductory or General Books
  8. Standard Collections
  9. Locke

The Cut
  1. Various works were considered for this Chapter, but were either reserved for consideration in other Chapters, or were rejected, at least for the time being.
  2. Priority Works to be read later for other Chapters:-
  3. Secondary Works to be “parked” for the time being:

Links to Notes
  1. General Surveys52,
  2. Locke53,
  3. Maybe others (to be supplied).

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 2:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (03/02/2019 21:33:07).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 16: These will be left until all Chapters have completed Task 7.

Footnote 17:
  • This may either be “as utilised” or “as ignored”.
  • Follow this link.
  • As of mid-Oct 2014, this task is now complete!
Footnote 18:
  • This may either be “as utilised” or “as ignored”.
  • Follow this link.
Footnote 19: This will explain why I’ve undertaken this research, and encourage the reader to continue.

Footnote 20: Footnote 35:
  • See the section on Research Methodology for what is to be done with these.
  • The author’s surname is repeated in the text to make it easier for me to see what’s going on in the encoded text I work on.
Footnote 36: As this is a PhD Thesis in my general subject-area, I ought at least to have read it!

Footnote 37: Somewhat elementary, but worth (re-)reading quickly

Footnote 38:
  • This is a course of lectures on Metaphysics, at the advanced undergraduate / beginning graduate level.
  • All the issues raised – in the discussion of standard papers – many of them covered elsewhere in my Thesis – are useful background.
Footnote 39: This is a set of papers for discussion in a research seminar. Most are probably covered elsewhere, but in case not …

Footnote 40: For a review, see "Lerner (Berel Dov) - Review of 'Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction' by David Shoemaker".

Footnote 41: Decide where to park the various Chapters of this book after reading the précis.

Footnote 42: Harris is an interesting case, in that it includes three important papers and three that are off-topic, but important in illustrating the divergent usages of the term “identity”.

Footnote 43: This is more recent than the others.

Footnote 48: But note that Baker’s account of constitution differs from the mereological account assumed in Rea’s anthology.

Footnote 49: The works by Reuscher and Trupp are too eccentric to be given any priority.

Footnote 50: The works by Slors may be worth reading as a fairly contemporary defence of the psychological view; just not yet.

Footnote 51: The work by Vesey is too out of date for a priority item.

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019

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