Animalism vs. Constitutionalism
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part I, Chapter 3, pp. 50-63
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Animalism1 and Constitutionalism are rival answers to metaphysical questions:
  2. Animalism5 is the metaphysical thesis that "each of us is numerically identical with an animal: there is a certain organism, and you and it are one and the same"(0lson 2007: 246). Or to put it slightly differently, "[w]e are identical with, are one and the same thing as, certain (human) animals" ("Snowdon (Paul) - Persons, Animals, and Bodies", 1990: 71). An Animalist7, then, endorses propositions expressed by sentences of the form:
    → "I am identical to an organism,"
    → "You are identical to an organism,"
    → "Obama is identical to an organism,"
    and so on. According to Animalism8, our persistence conditions9 are third-personal.
  3. Constitutionalism is the metaphysical thesis that each of us is identical to a person, who is initially constituted by (but not identical to) an animal and who has a first-person perspective essentially (Baker 2007a). According to Constitutionalism (at least my version of it), our persistence conditions10 are first-personal.
  4. The fact that Animalism11 and Constitutionalism are metaphysical theses has certain consequences.
  5. For Animalism12: If, metaphysically speaking, you are identical to a certain organism — call it "O"—then
    1. There is no time at which you exist and O fails to exist;
    2. There is no time at which O exists and you fail to exist;
    3. There is no time at which you have a property — modal13, indexical, whatever — and O fails to have it then;
    4. There is no time at which O has a property and you fail to have it then14.
  6. For Constitutionalism: If, metaphysically speaking, you are identical to a certain person — call it "P" — then
    → (i') There is no time at which you exist and P fails to exist;
    → (ii') There is no time at which P exists and you fail to exist;
    → (iii') There is no time at which you have a property — modally15, indexically, whatever — and P fails to have it then;
    → (iv') There is no time at which P has a property and you fail to have it then.
  7. It further follows from the fact that Animalism16 is a metaphysical thesis that
    1. Our persistence conditions17 are the persistence conditions18 of animals — third- personal conditions.
    Finally, if Animalism19 is true, then
    1. "Any of us could exist at a time without having any mental properties at that time, or even the capacity to acquire them" (Olson 2007:44, emphasis mine).
  8. And it further follows from the fact that Constitutionalism is a metaphysical thesis that
    → (v') Our persistence conditions20 are the persistence conditions21 of persons — first-personal conditions.
    Finally, if Constitutionalism is true, then
    → (vi') None of us "could exist at a time without having any mental properties at that time, or even the capacity to acquire them."
  9. I shall assume that Animalism22 is the metaphysical thesis expressed by "you are identical to an animal," and that Constitutionalism is the metaphysical thesis expressed by "you are identical to a person." Each thesis is elucidated, respectively, by (i)-(vi) and by (i')-(vi').
  10. After briefly sketching my theory of persons, I shall present a series of arguments for Animalism23, and show how Constitutionalism can deal with them; then I shall present two arguments for Constitutionalism, and defend them. The upshot, I hope, will be that on a number of fronts. Constitutionalism is superior to Animalism24 as the ontology for human beings.

Sections
  1. Introduction
  2. A Constitution View25 of Persons: A Brief Sketch
  3. Animalist26 Arguments against Constitutionalism and their Rebuttal
  4. Arguments for Constitutionalism and Their Defense
  5. Conclusion

Editors’ Introduction27
  1. In Chapter 3, Lynne Rudder Baker usefully and carefully presents her distinctive and well-known view of the relation between persons and animals, which is anti-animalist, and which holds that, in standard conditions, the animal constitutes, but is not identical with, the person.
  2. She sketches her distinctive elucidation of the constitution relation and its links with predication and truth conditions. She then employs these ideas to try to rebut the core pro-animalist28 arguments, and finally she adds two new reasons to favour her approach.
  3. Her response to the pro-animalist29 arguments raises the question why we should operate with the logic that she sketches. This is a question that has already received considerable attention, and the conduct of that debate will benefit from her clear and concise presentation.
  4. With her novel anti-animalist arguments one rests on the conviction that it is possible to preserve a person while totally replacing the constituting organic matter by inorganic matter, hence removing the animal while preserving the person, and one crucial question is why we should concede that is possible.
  5. This question has, at least, two sides.
    1. Can we be confident that a non-organic construct can sustain mentality?
    2. The other issue is whether we are entitled to be confident that if such an entity is possible it should count as being the person.
  6. The other argument rests on the conviction that persons will survive bodily death, a central religious conviction in the Christian tradition, but not something all of us are inclined to think. The argument also relies on the principle that if something is in fact to exist eternally it must be incorruptible. It might seem to those on the outside of the religious debate that God’s supposed omnipotence might unlock this problem. However, this interesting argument illustrates the way in which debate about animalism30 can be, and has been, broadened by its links to theological considerations.



In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 2: Ie. "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? The Question".

Footnote 4: Ie. "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Beginning in the middle".

Footnote 6: Ie. "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Animals".

Footnote 14: I am making certain assumptions that I have argued for elsewhere:
  1. Some properties may be had essentially ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Why Constitution is Not Identity", 1997);
  2. Certain entities (like you and organisms) exist at some times and not at other times (Baker 2007a: 228-31 [ie. "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Five Ontological Issues"]);
  3. Some entities have properties at some times and not at other times (Baker 2007a: 166-9 [ie. "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Constitution Revisited"]).
Footnote 27: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds - Animalism: Introduction".


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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
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