Organisms and their Bodies: Response to LaPorte
Hershenov (David)
Source: Mind, Vol. 118, No. 471 (Jul., 2009), pp. 803-809
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. I argue that a corpse cannot be identified with an earlier living body, because it acquires and retains parts in different ways.
  2. Contrary to "LaPorte (Joseph) - On Two Reasons for Denying That Bodies Can Outlast Life" maintains, there can be neither one principle of part-assimilation nor a non-disjunctive account of persistence conditions1 that can establish the identity of a living body and a later corpse.

Author’s Introduction
  1. LaPorte’s objection to my first symmetry argument can probably be met by my restating the original argument in a clearer manner. He claims there really is not an asymmetry, or not a problematic one. Rather there is one symmetrical principle that explains the differences between live and dead bodies and this gives us no reason to deny their identity.
  2. To become a part of the body something must be assimilated i.e., caught up in the life processes of the organism as a whole. LaPorte offers the general restriction on part replacement that “For a body before death or after, incorporation of new matter is possible just on condition of assimilation.” Dead bodies do not assimilate so LaPorte concludes that “naturally there can be no part replacement after death even though there can be part replacement before death.”
  3. He suggests that there is nothing odd about something getting parts at one time and not at a later time and points out that a city might not be able to any longer extend its boundaries because of natural obstacles when it could earlier.


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