A Hylomorphic Account of Thought Experiments Concerning Personal Identity
Hershenov (David)
Source: American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 82:3, pp. 2008. 481-502
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Hylomorphism offers a third way between animalist1 approaches to personal identity that maintain psychology is irrelevant to our persistence and neo-Lockean accounts that deny we are animals.
  2. A Thomistic-inspired account is provided that explains the intuitive responses to thought experiments2 involving brain transplants3 and the transformation of organic bodies into inorganic ones without having to follow the animalist4 in abandoning the claim that it is our identity that matters in survival nor countenance the puzzles of spatially coincident entities that plague the neo-Lockean.
  3. The key is to understand the human being as only contingently an animal. This approach to our animality is one that Catholics have additional reason to hold given certain views about Purgatory, our uniqueness as free and rational creatures, and our having once existed as zygotes5.

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