Olson's Account of Function and Substance Concepts
Hershenov (David)
Source: Hershenov's Website
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Eric Olson claims that “person” is not a substance term like “organism” or “animal.” In an early section1 entitled “Movers and Thinkers” of his book "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology", Olson puts forth an argument that “person” should be understood as a functional term like “locomotor.” The strategy Olson pursues there against those who would bestow substancehood on persons involves showing how counterintuitive it would be to hold such a position about locomotors. He then suggests that the same skepticism that readers harbor towards the substantial nature of locomotors should be extended to persons.
  2. ….
  3. My conclusion is that there is nothing wrong with certain instances of functional kinds being substances. So the refutation of the Psychological Approach to personal identity must be made in other ways. I actually believe Olson does successfully make such a case in later parts of his work The Human Organism2 and in subsequent articles. But the subject of this paper are his inadequate arguments in the earlier section entitled “Movers and Thinkers.” pp. 31-37.


For the full text, see Hershenov - Olson's Account of Function and Substance Concepts.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Section III of Chapter 2: "Olson (Eric) - Persistence".

Footnote 2: Doubtless Hershenov means “Human Animal” here.

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)

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