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 conditions to be determined by mental features of some sort and thus we were distinct from our animal or body.
  3. But the animalist4 (and later the dualist) opponents of the Neo-Lockeans eventually responded that distinguishing human persons from human animals5 led to the Problem of Too Many Thinkers6. If the person could think with its brain, why couldn’t the animal? Animalist7 or bodily views of personal identity look much better when the too many thinkers8 problem is central.
  4. But as Patrick Toner points out, animalists9 like van Inwagen, Merricks and Olson should be known as “latter day animalists10.” Hylomorphism is the original animalism11. And unlike latter day animalism12, traditional animalism13 preserves the ontological significance of personhood while it avoids the problem of too many thinkers14 that plagues Neo-Lockeans who distinguish the human person from the human animal15.

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