A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person
Hudson (Hud)
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Cover Blurb

  1. Hud Hudson presents an innovative view of the metaphysics of human persons according to which human persons are material objects but not human organisms. In developing his account, he formulates and defends a unique collection of positions on parthood, persistence, vagueness, composition, identity, and various puzzles of material constitution.
  2. The author also applies his materialist metaphysics to issues in ethics and in the philosophy of religion. He examines the implications for ethics of his metaphysical views for standard arguments addressing the moral permissibility of our treatment of human persons and their parts, fetuses1 and infants, the irreversibly comatose, and corpses. He argues that his metaphysics provides the best foundation in the philosophy of religion for the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body.
  3. Hudson addresses a broad range of metaphysical issues, but among his most strikingly original contributions are his defense of the "Partist" view (according to which a material object can exactly occupy multiple, overlapping regions of spacetime) and his argument for the compatibility of Christianity with a materialistic theory of human persons.
  4. "A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person is filled with imaginative and memorable examples that enhance its value as a source. Hud Hudson engages with a cluster of difficult issues in ontology, provides an overview of the range of positions on the metaphysics of human persons, thinks through difficult methodological issues, and comes up with original ideas."
    John P. Hawthorne, Syracuse University
  5. "A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person is marked by its scope and originality. Hud Hudson makes novel contributions to a number of important philosophical debates. Not only does he address a wide variety of metaphysical questions, but he also has interesting things to say about dilemmas in ethics and the philosophy of religion."
    Michael C. Rea, University of Delaware


Cornell University Press (9 Aug 2001)

"Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Review of 'A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person' by Hud Hudson"

Source: Mind, 112 (2003): 148-151

Author’s Abstract
    In "Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person", Hud Hudson develops a view of human persons as material objects. On Hudson’s view, a human person and a human organism are distinct four-dimensional spacetime worms that share a stage. The overwhelming emphasis of the book is on technical metaphysical problems about material objects generally, not on characteristics of human persons per se. Various solutions to these metaphysical problems (eg. universalism with respect to composition, counterpart theory of de re modal1 properties, epistemicist theory of vagueness, and many more) underlie Hudson’s view of human persons.


"Carter (William) - 'Partist' Resistance to the Many: Review of 'A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person' by Hud Hudson"

Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 68, No. 3, May 2004, pp. 713-723

Introduction (Full Text)
  1. We are confronted by a metaphysical problem and discover, to our dismay, that standard proposals for its resolution have strongly counterintuitive corollaries. That naturally encourages consideration of previously overlooked or neglected ways out of the problem. As it turns out, one of these unorthodox proposals has a leg up on the various standard ways out of our problem. Metaphysical progress.
  2. This is the general line pursued by Hud Hudson. The seemingly intractable problem that is Hudson's primary concern emerges from a set of assumption suggesting that a great many people are located more or less where each of us is located. Many people exist where, as we normally would judge, only a single person is located! We are confronted by the dreaded Problem of the Many1, and told that "every out seems to involve some severe embarrassment or other" (pp. 16-17). There is reason to turn attention to unorthodox - previously ignored or neglected - "outs".
  3. Much of Hudson's book is devoted to the task of arguing that one such proposal - Partism, as Hudson names it - offers the best resolution of the Problem of the Many2 (PM here-after).
  4. Hudson's defense of Partism rests largely with the conviction that standard treatments of PM are "overwhelmingly unattractive" (p. 45). We might agree with that and also have grave misgivings about Partism. On such a conception of the situation, PM has yet to be resolved.
  5. Although I have a number of reservations about claims defended by Hudson, I think this is a marvellous book that is worthy of close attention.
    • In Chapter 1, Hudson argues against ten proposed resolutions of PM.
    • His own Partist approach to PM is presented in Chapter 2.
    • Chapter 3 defends both an epistemic approach to vagueness and the thesis of (compositional) Universalism.
    • Chapters 4 - 6 address the subject of personal identity and various moral questions concerning pre-persons and post-persons.
    • Chapter 7 is devoted to a defense of the view that Christian Materialism allows for bodily resurrection.
  6. What follows does not do justice to Hudson's rich and subtle treatment of all of this.

  1. Introduction.
  2. A Question of Inheritance.
  3. Modally3 Bare Particulars.
  4. Multiple Location.
  5. Maximality and Diageometric Identity.
  6. 4D Morality and Resurrection.

COMMENT: Review of "Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person".

"Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person: Introduction"

Source: Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person, 2001, Introduction

"Moreland (J.P.) - Review of Hud Hudson 'A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person'"

Source: Religious Studies, 39, Issue 02, June 2003, pp 235-241

Author’s Abstract
  1. Hud Hudson has written a technical yet innovative book. And while I disagree with most of Hudson’s theses – I believe that most physicalists will refrain from choking down his central contention – this book places Hudson at the forefront of work in material composition; it is a ‘must’ read. Hudson argues for a conditional, though he also defends the antecedent: if we accept six theses, then we must accept his view of human persons:
    … (1) materialism regarding human persons;
    … (2) human persons persist over time by either enduring or perduring (the latter is Hudson’s position);
    … (3) ontological vagueness is false;
    … (4) classic logic is true, identity is absolute and is not sortal-relative1 ;
    … (5) necessitarianism is false ; and
    … (6) we ought to minimize bruteness in doing ontology.
    In light of these theses, Hudson develops his partist view to answer this question: ‘To which space-time worms does ‘‘human person’’ refer? ’
  2. I think Hudson’s approach to the topic as a distinctively Christian philosopher falls short of what is needed. Hudson follows an approach, now widely employed, that physicalism is consistent or merely compatible with Christian theism (3). Hudson’s chapter on this topic contains thirty-seven footnotes, but only three exegetical sources are cited. The vast majority of his sources involve interacting with other philosophers, especially other Christian materialists. One of his citations (170) mentions but fails to interact with the most important exegetical defense of dualism in recent years – "Cooper (John) - Body, Soul and Life Everlasting: Biblical Anthropology and the Monism-dualism Debate" (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2000).
  3. By contrast, in my view, two features ought to characterize the philosophical method of Christian philosophers. First, as disciples of Jesus they should hunger to believe what Jesus believed and teach what he taught. They ought to take the embracing and promoting of Jesus’ worldview as an invitation to a flourishing life. Rather than seeking the minimum commitment consistent with being a Christian, they should do all they can to get clear on Jesus’ views prior to their philosophical activity. I believe this would lead them to embrace a substantial, immaterial soul. Second, they ought to root their philosophical work in serious exegesis. In my view, Hudson’s brilliance would greatly enhance the mission of the church if this methodology had been more central to the development of his views of human persons. In sum, this is a well-researched book, technically written and occasionally brilliant. But the main contours of Hudson’s position will likely not be persuasive to many.

COMMENT: Review of "Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person"; 1st 7 pages of PDF only

"Olson (Eric) - Review of Hud Hudson's 'A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person'"

Source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Introduction (Full Text)
  1. The metaphysics of personal identity is rarely approached in a systematic way. The usual practice is to start with a question such as what our identity over time consists in, and canvass our opinions about a range of fictional “test cases” (is it the same person?). The view that does best by those opinions is then taken to answer the question. Whether that view fits into any wider metaphysical picture is left open.
  2. Hudson is more conscientious. He begins by developing a general ontology of material objects in response to a broad range of metaphysical considerations, most of which have nothing to do with people in particular. He then asks which of the things in this ontology we are. Our identity conditions and other properties of philosophical interest, he concludes, are the ones that the general metaphysic assigns to those objects. In this way he arrives at a view of personal identity that not only gives plausible accounts of who is who in science-fiction stories, but also is compatible with what he takes to be the best metaphysical principles all things considered.
  3. If more philosophers adopted this strategy, debates on personal identity would be a good deal more fruitful. I recommend Hudson’s book as an example of how metaphysics ought to be done. I can recommend it on other grounds too. It is beautifully written and very clear. It is packed with insightful arguments. And it is refreshingly honest. Most authors leave it to the reader to work out the implausible consequences of their views. Hudson openly concedes them. He merely argues that they are not as bad as they seem. I would happily buy a used car from him — though it may not be the car he recommends.

COMMENT: Review of "Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person"; Link, 2002

"Hudson (Hud) - The Many Problematic Solutions To the Problem Of the Many"

Source: Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person, 2001, Chapter 1

  1. The Problem Posed
  2. Clarifications
  3. On Nine Alleged Solutions
  4. Solution Ten: Many Persons
  5. The Threat of Many-Brothers Determinism

"Hudson (Hud) - Persistence and the Partist View"

Source: Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person, 2001, Chapter 2

  1. The Partist View
  2. Some Familiar Puzzles of Material Constitution
  3. The Three-Dimensionalist Partist's Failure
  4. The Four-Dimensionalist Partist's Success
  5. Taking Stock

"Hudson (Hud) - Vagueness and Composition"

Source: Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person, 2001, Chapter 3

  1. The Impossibility of Ontological Vagueness
  2. Defects of the Linguistic View of Vagueness
  3. The Virtues of Epistemicism
  4. The Special Composition Question
  5. Against Material Atomless Gunk
  6. Three Objections to Universalism
  7. The Inadequacy of the Argument from Vagueness
  8. The Case for Universalism

"Hudson (Hud) - The Criterion of Personal Identity"

Source: Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person, 2001, Chapter 4

  1. On the Referent of the Term ‘Human Person'
  2. Maximal Persons, Temporary Persons, and Person-Parts
  3. The Criterion of Personhood
  4. The I-Relation and the R-Relation
  5. The Puzzle of Diageometric Identity
  6. Solving the Semantic Puzzle

"Hudson (Hud) - A Portrait of the Human Person"

Source: Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person, 2001, Chapter 5

  1. A Review
  2. A Preview

"Hudson (Hud) - Pre-Persons, Post-Persons, Non-Persons, and Person-Parts"

Source: Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person, 2001, Chapter 6

  1. Our Preferred Metaphysics and Moral Theory
  2. Pre-Persons: Contraception, Abortion1, and Infanticide
  3. Post-Persons: Irreversibly Comatose Humans and Human Corpses
  4. Non-Persons: Human2 and Non-Human Animal
  5. Person Parts: Proper Temporal Parts of Human Persons

"Hudson (Hud) - Nothing But Dust and Ashes"

Source: Hudson (Hud) - A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person, 2001, Chapter 7

  1. An Inconsistent Triad
  2. Christian Materialism
  3. The Challenge of the Resurrection
  4. Five Attempts at Reconciliation and a Common Presumption
  5. The Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting

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