Persons and Other Things
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 14, Issue 05-06, 2007 , pp. 17-36 (20), and in A. Laitinen and H. Ikäheimo, eds., Dimensions of Personhood (Imprint Academic, 2007)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. In the large recent literature on the nature of human persons, persons are usually studied in isolation from the world in which they live. What persons are most fundamentally, philosophers say, are human animals1, or brains, or perhaps souls -- without any consideration of the social and physical environments without which persons would not exist.
  2. In this article, I want to compensate for such overly narrow focus. Instead of beginning with the nature of persons cut off from any environment, I shall begin with metaphysical consideration of the world of which persons are a part. I shall then briefly describe my view of persons, according to which persons are material objects like other concrete things in the world, but are unique in their first-person perspectives2. Finally, I shall consider some of the special relations that persons, and only persons, have to other things in the world.

Introduction in "Ikaheimo (Heikki) & Laitinen (Arto) - Dimensions of Personhood"
  1. The first part opens with an article by Lynne Rudder Baker, introducing several themes discussed throughout the collection. In her earlier work Baker has defended a view according to which persons are beings with a ‘first person perspective’3. Persons, as subjects of a first person perspective4, are ontologically related to their bodies through a relation that Baker calls ‘constitution’.
  2. In this paper Baker elaborates on some of the details of her ‘constitution view’5 of persons, and widens the perspective of her approach by discussing intentional relationships that persons have to things other than themselves. These relationships — which first person perspective6 makes possible — include:-
    1. Moral relationships (which Baker conceives in terms of duties towards other persons as well as to non-persons),
    2. Interpretive relationships (in which we re-describe things in different creative ways), and
    3. Productive relationships (in which persons bring about ontologically novel kinds of things).


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