- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Nihilism1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 17/09/2020 09:24:29): Nihilism
- Otherwise known as Eliminitivism, Nihilism is the view that there are no persons or – more alarmingly – that we don’t exist.
- Whether what is eliminated is the same in all cases must await detailed examination.
- Peter Unger – at least at one time4 – argued (rather improbably) that:-
- He didn’t exist: "Unger (Peter) - I Do Not Exist" (1979).
- There are no people: "Unger (Peter) - Why There Are No People" (1979), though this seems to be a corollary of a more general thesis, introduced in Section 6.
- There are no ordinary things: "Unger (Peter) - There are no Ordinary Things" (1979).
- Eric Olson:
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Nihilism" (2007) considers the matter (but rejects the thesis).
- Olson accepts some of the arguments that lead to nihilism. See:-
→ "Olson (Eric) - Why I Have No Hands" (1995), as sensationalised in …
→ "Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) - Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands" (2012).
- Peter Van Inwagen: If I remember correctly, van Inwagen thinks that all that exists are organisms and simples. See:-
→ "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Material Beings" (1990), and in particular …
→ "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Extreme Answers to the Special Composition Question: Nihilism and Universalism" (1990)
This is no threat to the elimination of persons, of course.
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Objects and Persons" (2001); in particular:-
→ "Merricks (Trenton) - Surviving Eliminativism", and
→ "Merricks (Trenton) - Considerations in Favour of Eliminating Us?"
Merricks thinks that we – and other organisms – exist, but that statues don’t. Again, this is no treat to the existence of persons.
- One reason for considering this topic is that lots of the arguments – sorites-style5, or “too many occupants” – occur throughout the topic of personal identity. If they are unsound here, they may be so elsewhere.
- In particular, it’ll be interesting to compare Olson’s argument that he has no hands with his “thinking animal6” argument. He seems committed to both.
- Note that nihilism is also used in many other contexts. Obviously, I ignore the ethical / political sense. But there is also the mereological7 sense, which is more relevant to my concerns. Mereological nihilism is the doctrine that things don’t have proper parts.
- For a Page of Links8 to this Note, Click here. I’ve recently added “Eliminitivism” and “No People” as cognates, and need to update the text and reading lists accordingly.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read9 include the following:-
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Review of 'What Are We? A Study in Personal Ontology' by Eric T. Olson", Baker
- "Kurtz (Roxanne) - Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?", Kurtz
- "Olson (Eric) - Why I Have No Hands", Olson
→ "Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) - Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands"
- "Unger (Peter) - I Do Not Exist", Unger
- "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Précis of Material Beings", Van Inwagen
- A further reading list might start with:-
- "Liggins (David) - Nihilism without Self-Contradiction", Liggins
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Considerations in Favour of Eliminativism", Merricks
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Epiphenomenalism and Eliminativism", Merricks
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Surviving Eliminativism", Merricks
- "Merricks (Trenton) - Considerations in Favour of Eliminating Us?", Merricks
- "Miller (Kristie) - 'Personal identity' minus the persons", Miller
- "Morton (Adam) - Why There Is No Concept of a Person", Morton
- "O'Leary-Hawthorne (John) & Cortens (Andrew) - Towards Ontological Nihilism", O'Leary-Hawthorne & Cortens
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Nihilism", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? What Now?", Olson
- "Rodriguez-Pereyra (Gonzalo) - Modal Realism and Metaphysical Nihilism", Rodriguez-Pereyra
- "Sider (Ted) - Against Parthood", Sider
- "Sides (Carl Brock) - Mereological Nihilism and the Limits of Paraphrase", Sides
- "Sosa (Ernest) - Existential Relativity", Sosa
- "Stone (Jim) - Parfit and the Buddha: Why There Are No People", Stone
- "Unger (Peter) - Skepticism and Nihilism", Unger
- "Unger (Peter) - There are no Ordinary Things", Unger
- "Unger (Peter) - Why There Are No People", Unger
- "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Extreme Answers to the Special Composition Question: Nihilism and Universalism", Van Inwagen
- "Weatherson (Brian) - The Problem of the Many", Weatherson
- "Williamson (Timothy) - Nihilism", Williamson
- "Zuboff (Arnold) - Moment Universals and Personal Identity", Zuboff
- This is mostly a place-holder10.
Footnote 4: See the introduction to "Unger (Peter) - The Mental Problems of the Many" (2004) for a recantation.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (17/09/2020 09:24:29).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
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