The Lives of Human Animals
Blatti (Stephan), Ed.
Source: The Southern Journal of Philosophy Volume 52, Spindel Supplement, 2014
Paper - Abstract

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Conference Programme and Notes

  1. The problem of personal identity is one of the most bewitching puzzles in all of philosophy. Until very recently, most philosophers subscribed to the view first advocated by the 17th-century British philosopher, John Locke. Locke held that our fundamental nature is given by our status as self-conscious, rational agents ("persons") and that the conditions under which we persist through time and change are thus to be accounted for in terms of psychological continuity1. The main topic of the 32nd annual Spindel Conference will be an anti-Lockean view that has recently gained support amongst philosophers. According to this view, known as “animalism2,” our fundamental nature is given not by our psychological capacities, but by our biological constitution: we are primates (Homo sapiens), and like all organisms, we persist just in case we continue living.
  2. The overarching aim of this year's conference is to provide a forum in which metaphysicians and philosophers of mind working on animalism3 are brought together with those who are presently engaged in pertinent debates in other areas of philosophy — including philosophy of biology, metaphysics, ethics, philosophical psychology, and philosophy of religion. So, besides animalism4 in its own right, among the topics to be explored are the nature of organic life, the metaphysics and ethics of death, issues in animal cognition, the possibility of the afterlife5, animal interests, etc.
  3. Speakers6:
  4. The conference proceedings are published in the The Southern Journal of Philosophy Link. This is not on JSTOR, so I’d need to purchase the papers, unless they are freely available on the speakers’ websites.

Conclusion of Editor’s Introduction
  1. Though Aristotelian in spirit, animalism17 is a relative latecomer to the debate over personal identity, having been articulated and defended only within the past twenty-five years or so. During these first two and a half decades of work, advocates of the views ought mainly to specify and defend its central claims and to understand its relation to the Lockean opposition.
  2. While highly important work along these lines continues to be done, a second, overlapping wave of work on animalism18 seems now to be emerging. This new wave is beginning to broaden animalism’s19 import beyond metaphysics and philosophy of mind into a diverse array of fields and topics, including ethics, philosophy of language, conjoined20 twinning21, epistemology, evolutionary22 theory, philosophy of religion, death, and so on.
  3. The guiding aim of the thirty-second annual Spindel Conference on “The Lives of Human Animals”23 (University of Memphis, September 26–28, 2013) was to spotlight and facilitate this second wave of work by providing a forum in which metaphysicians and philosophers of mind working on animalism24 were brought together with philosophers who are presently engaged in pertinent debates in other areas of philosophy. The fruits of this effort are contained in the pages that follow.


See Link for the Editor's Introduction

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 6: Including links to their websites, and to whatever works I have by them.

Footnote 7: It would be interesting to see how this account compares to "Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities".

Footnote 9: This would be interesting, in that there might be problems for animalism. Dicephalus is the most interesting case.

Footnote 10: Again, compare with such as "Feldman (Fred) - Confrontations with the Reaper: A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death".

Footnote 11: For animal minds, see
"Griffin (Donald) - Animal Minds",
"DeGrazia (David) - Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status" and
"Bekoff (Marc) - The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy and Why They Matter".

Footnote 12: Footnote 13: This is presumably arguing that we have a kind that is both an animal and a person.

Footnote 15:

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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