- Ordinary kinds, K, admit of leeway, both in the number of things that must be arranged K-wise and even in what arrangements count as being arranged K-wise. Consider a chair. A slightly smaller collection of things in pretty much the same arrangement would presumably still be some things arranged chairwise and would count as a chair. But there are plausibly many such collections of things in the vicinity of any chair. Thus, it seems that I am seated in many chairs. This is an instance of the problem of the many.
- The first half of the dissertation is about solutions to the problem of the many. In chapter 2, I evaluate the proposal that constitution>, a relation of non-identity between a thing and what it is made out of, is needed to solve the problem. I argue against this by showing that parallel, constitution-free solutions solve the problem using the very same machinery as constitutionalists, sans constitution.
- In chapter 3, I develop, motivate, and defend a novel solution to the problem of the many. According to this solution, the many things that have what it takes to be a chair, say, are collectively identical to a single chair.
- In the second half of the dissertation, I discuss problems of the many that arise in personal ontology. The thinking animal problem is the main argument for animalism, the thesis that human persons are identical to animals. Animalists use this problem against constitutionalism, the thesis that human persons are constituted by, but not identical to, human animals. The thinking animal problem challenges constitutionalists to avoid the result that both the person and animal think. Animalists face the thinking parts problem, which challenges them to avoid the result that the human animal and its large proper parts think. In chapter 4, I argue that constitutionalists about human persons can solve the thinking animal problem using solutions parallel to those animalists use to solve the thinking parts problem. Furthermore, I argue that animalists must offer such a solution if they are to use the animal ancestors argument in support of their own view.
- Finally, in chapter 5, I discuss the personite problem. On certain views of persons, there are personites, person-like things in our vicinity coming into and going out of existence at different times than us. If personites have moral status, then seemingly innocuous actions harm countless of them. This threatens to throw our ordinary moral and prudential practices into disarray. I begin by arguing that Alex Kaiserman’s (2019) exdurantist solution fails to solve the problem; a version of the personite problem arises for exdurantism. Next, I show how the personite problem is connected to a version of the problem of the many. I offer and defend a solution to the personite problem according to which persons have psychological properties, but personites don’t. Since the supposed harms done to personites require personites’ having psychological properties, personites cannot be harmed in the ways the personite problem purports to show.
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