This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Animalism' during my Thesis research, as from 2011. Click here for Note.
Write-up1 (as at 20/01/2018 17:19:41): Animalism
- There are different interpretations of Animalism, which I need to compare and contrast. My preferred option is Olson3’s, namely, that animalism is the view that we are identical to human animals4 and that, since human animals don’t have any psychological properties essentially, neither do we.
- Olson is probably the best known active Animalist5. See
→ "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology" and
→ "Olson (Eric) - What are We?".
Follow the above link for other animalists.
- Olson’s claim is not that there are no non-animal persons, but that human persons are essentially animals. Other animalists, such as Wiggins6, insist (or are said to insist, or used to insist) that the only persons are indeed human beings7, or are (maybe) other animals.
- I incline to agree with Olson on the topic of what we are8, but need to press hard with thought experiments9 to see why we can’t separate the two – that is, why we can’t separate where we go as persons10 from where we go as animals: our personhood can’t be pealed off from our animality and ported to some other infrastructure – or at least not while preserving our identity.
- There is a distinction between persons and human animals. Is the distinction empirical or conceptual? Why can’t I copy my consciousness11 onto a machine12 and that machine be me? There seem to be two issues here.
- Firstly, my intuition is that phenomenal consciousness essentially involves a brain-like infrastructure and
- Secondly, copying a consciousness onto a machine isn’t identity-preserving, even if possible, but is the creation of a simulacrum13.
- Basically, I reject both functionalism14 and the idea of consciousness “hopping from one infrastructure to another”. Incidentally, I rather hope we can’t copy our phenomenal consciousness onto a machine, or the possibility of hell on earth unfolds. The nasty business of very extended torment could be delegated to another machine that neither knows nor cares what it is doing.
- Also, should we consider fetuses15 and the senile or those in a PVS16 as persons? See Baker17 who alleges that those who have, will have or have had the capacity for a first-person perspective18 should be accounted persons. But is this simply arbitrary retrofitting of philosophy to Christian doctrine (though Wiggins19 seems to share this view; individuals are persons if typical individuals of their kind are persons)?
- I must also discuss animals20 under this head. If we are identical to (human) animals then to what, exactly, are we identical – that is, just what is a human animal – and that are their persistence conditions21? Note that there are disagreements about the referent of “animal” – is it the organism22 or the body23? The key issue is with corpses24. Feldman thinks they are animals, but Olson thinks they aren’t. Death25 is central to the enquiry. Just when does the person or animal commence26 or cease to be? If he is resuscitated (or resurrected27 / reincarnated28, assuming these to be possible) what happens in the interregnum29?
- As noted elsewhere30,31, I need to investigate the termini of human existence, and the issues they raise for the various views – the “fetus problem32” for the constitution view and the “corpse problem33” for animalism.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read34, include35 the following:-
- There is a seemingly endless categorised reading list below, which I need to select from.
- A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- This is mostly a place-holder36. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (20/01/2018 17:19:41).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- A number of my philosophical Notes are “promissory notes” currently only listing the books and papers (if any) I possess on the topic concerned.
- I’ve decided to add some text – whether by way of motivation, or something more substantive – for all these identified topics related to my Thesis.
- As I want to do this fairly quickly, the text may be confused or show surprising ignorance.
- The reader (if such exists) will have to bear with me, and display the principle of charity while this footnote exists.
- Frequently I’ll have made copious marginal annotations, and sometimes have written up a review-note.
- In the former case, I intend to transfer the annotations into electronic form as soon as I can find the time.
- In the latter case, I will have remarked on the fact against the citation, and will integrate the comments into this Note in due course.
- My intention is to incorporate into these Notes comments on material I’ve already read rather than engage with unread material at this stage.
- I may have read others in between updates of this Note – in which case they will be marked as such in the “References and Reading List” below.
- Papers or Books partially read have a rough %age based on the time spent versus the time expected.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018