Shoemaker's Problem of Too Many Thinkers
Hershenov (David)
Source: Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, 80, 2007, 225-36
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsBooks / Papers Citing this PaperNotes Citing this PaperColour-ConventionsDisclaimer

Author’s Abstract

  1. Psychological approaches to personal identity are distinguished from body and biological accounts of identity by the former’s insistence that some kind of mind is essential for our persistence. A problem arises for those psychological approaches that are committed to the person being spatially coincident with, but distinct from the human animal1 and body. (For the purposes of this paper, the human animal2 will be identified with the organic body.)
  2. If the person can think, then it would appear that the human animal3 can also. The person and the animal share the same brain as well as every other atom of every other organ. Given this physical identity and the fact that they both have the same causal relations to the environment and linguistic community, why then should only one of the two beings have the ability to think?
  3. Such mental duplication4 appears inevitable on pain of violating the supervenience5 of the mental on the physical, construing the latter to include causal ties to the environment as well as the physical properties of the animal. And if both can think then there arises what Olson called the “epistemic problem” of being unable to know whether one is the human animal6 or the person.
  4. The dilemma that both the person and the human animal7 can think has been labeled by Sydney Shoemaker “The Problem of Too Many Minds8.” I prefer to call it the problem of too many thinkers9 since it could be that two thinkers share one mind much as conjoined10 twins11 could share one bruise.


For the full text, see Hershenov - Shoemaker's Problem of Too Many Thinkers.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

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

© Theo Todman, June 2007 - Oct 2020. Please address any comments on this page to File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page