- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Thinking Animal Argument1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 19/08/2018 23:13:55): Thinking Animal Argument
- This argument is otherwise known as the “too many minds” argument, the “too many thinkers” argument, or Olson4’s “master argument”.
- The basic idea is that a human animal thinks, and if it is not identical to the person, then we have too many thinkers – the animal and the person, unless we deny that one or other of them thinks, which is at the least very counter-intuitive.
- Additional to this metaphysical problem, we have – Olson says – an epistemological question. Which one are we? The animal or the person?
- I intend to cover this argument in Chapter 65 (pro) and Chapter 76 (con7) of my Thesis. It also features in Chapter 98 as an argument against9 the Constitution View10.
- While I’m inclined to accept animalism11, I think this argument stinks, and it does the cause for animalism no good by having it as the main argument in its favour12.
- This form of argument has been used by nihilists to argue that there are no ordinary things13. Since there are14 ordinary things, there must be something wrong with it.
- Baker15 and other supporters of the Constitution View have answers to the argument used as an argument against their view (along the lines of “thinking derivatively”).
- There are also resources like “Lewis counting”, as in perdurantism16 where a “soon to fission” entity is really two entities sharing stages. Our language is fit for purpose.
- For a page of Links17 to this Note, Click here.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read18, include19 the following:-
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - When Do Persons Begin and End?", Baker
- "Blatti (Stephan) - Animalism (SEP)", Blatti
- "Blatti (Stephan) - We Are Animals", Blatti
- "Coliva (Annalisa) - Review of Gasser & Stefan, Eds. - Personal Identity: Complex or Simple?", Coliva
- "Hershenov (David) - Review of Nancy Murphy's 'Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?'", Hershenov
- "Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) - Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands", Marshall & Olson
- "Noonan (Harold) - Persons, Animals and Human Beings", Noonan
- "Olson (Eric) - An Argument for Animalism", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Animalism and the Corpse Problem", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Personal Identity", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Personal Identity (Stanford, 2002)", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal: Introduction", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Thinking Animals and the Constitution View", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Thinking Animals and the Reference of 'I'", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Warum wir Tiere sind (Why we are animals)", Olson
- "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity, Rational Anticipation, and Self-Concern", Shoemaker_D
- "Snowdon (Paul) - The Self and Personal Identity", Snowdon
- A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might include20:-
- "Blatti (Stephan) - A New Argument for Animalism", Blatti
- "Blatti (Stephan) - Headhunters", Blatti
- "Hershenov (David) - Animals, Persons and Bioethics", Hershenov
- "Hershenov (David) - Are There Too Many Hylomorphic Individuals Thinking about this Life and the Next?", Hershenov
- "Hershenov (David) - Death, Persons, and Sparse Ontologies: The Problem of Too Many Dying Thinkers", Hershenov
- "Hershenov (David) - Persons as Proper Parts of Organisms", Hershenov
- "Hershenov (David) - Shoemaker's Problem of Too Many Thinkers", Hershenov
- "Hershenov (David) - Who Doesn't Have a Problem of Too Many Thinkers?", Hershenov
- "Johansson (Jens) - Animal Ethics", Johansson
- "Madden (Rory) - Intention and the Self", Madden
- "Miller (Kristie) - 'Personal identity' minus the persons", Miller
- "Noonan (Harold) - Persons, Animals and Human Beings (2010)", Noonan
- "Noonan (Harold) - The Thinking Animal Problem and Personal Pronoun Revisionism", Noonan
- "Olson (Eric) - Personal Identity (Stanford, 2015)", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Review of P. Snowdon, Persons, Animals, Ourselves", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Self: Personal Identity", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - The Nature of People", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology", Olson, especially
→ "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Animals", Olson
→ "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Constitution", Olson
→ "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Brains", Olson
→ "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Brains", Olson
→ "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Bundles", Olson
→ "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Souls", Olson
→ "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? What Now?", Olson
- "Parfit (Derek) - We Are Not Human Beings", Parfit
- "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Persons, Animals, and Identity", Shoemaker_S
- "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Thinking Animals Without Animalism", Shoemaker_S
- "Steward (Helen) - Free Will", Snowdon
- "Sutton (Catherine S.) - The Supervenience Solution to the Too-Many-Thinkers Problem", Sutton
- "Zimmerman (Dean) - Problems for Animalism", Zimmerman21
- This is mostly a place-holder22.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (19/08/2018 23:13:55).
- 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.
- For many years, Olson has trotted this argument out at every opportunity.
- Usually invoking vagueness / fuzzy boundary considerations.
- Which of the many cats (give or take a few atoms) is the “real cat”? There’s no principled reason / I can’t know which.
- So there are no cats, or if there are, I can’t know which of the many cat-a-likes is the real cat.
- I accept Moore’s “two hands” argument – nothing is plainer than that I have two hands, so any metaphysical or epistemological theory that says I haven’t, or can’t know that I have, must have something wrong with it.
- I do know that there are arguments against the existence of hands and other “arbitrary undetached parts”, so maybe it’s safer to stick to cats.
- If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
- Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
- There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
- 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.
Footnote 20: Footnote 21:
- 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, 2019