Are There Too Many Hylomorphic Individuals Thinking about this Life and the Next?
Hershenov (David)
Source: Keynote for the Talbot Philosophical Society Graduate Conference; Revised version to be published as “Purgatory” in Palgrave MacMillan's Handbook of the Afterlife
Paper - Abstract

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Authors Citing this Paper: Hershenov (David)

Author's Abstract

  1. I work on personal identity so the occupational hazard that tempts me is to judge every metaphysic by how well it does with the famous personal identity thought experiments1 and, more importantly, the problem of too many thinkers2.
  2. Historically, the thought experiments3 favored Neo-Lockean views that understood our persistence conditions4 to be determined by mental features of some sort and thus we were distinct from our animal or body.
  3. But the animalist5 (and later the dualist) opponents of the Neo-Lockeans eventually responded that distinguishing human persons from human animals6 led to the Problem of Too Many Thinkers7. If the person could think with its brain, why couldn’t the animal? Animalist8 or bodily views of personal identity look much better when the too many thinkers9 problem is central.
  4. But as Patrick Toner points out, animalists10 like van Inwagen, Merricks and Olson should be known as “latter day animalists11.” Hylomorphism is the original animalism12. And unlike latter day animalism13, traditional animalism14 preserves the ontological significance of personhood while it avoids the problem of too many thinkers15 that plagues Neo-Lockeans who distinguish the human person from the human animal16.


For the full text, see Hershenov - Are There Too Many Hylomorphic Individuals Thinking about this Life and the Next?.

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