E-Symposium on 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View'
Baker (Lynne Rudder), Etc.
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BOOK ABSTRACT:



"Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Precis of 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View'"

Source: Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, e-Symposium on "Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View"
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).

Full Text
  1. Persons and Bodies develops and defends an account of persons and of the relation between human persons and their bodies. According to the Constitution View2 of human persons, as I call it, a human person is a person in virtue of having a first-person perspective, and is a human person in virtue of being constituted by a human body (or human animal)3.
  2. Thus, the Constitution View4 aims to give our animal natures their due, while recognizing what makes human persons ontologically distinctive. The Constitution View5 contrasts with two other leading accounts of human persons: Animalism6 and Immaterialism. Like Animalism7 but unlike Immaterialism, the Constitution View8 holds that human persons are material beings; like Immaterialism but unlike Animalism9, the Constitution View10 holds that we are not identical to the animals that constitute us. This, of course involves self-reference, but it is self-reference of a distinctive kind.
  3. On the one hand, human persons are constituted by human animals11, and hence cannot escape their animal natures; on the other hand, there is more to human persons than their animal natures. What sets human persons apart from other animals has nothing to do with anything immaterial; rather what sets us apart is the ability that underlies our asking, “What am I12?” That ability is a first-person perspective. First-person perspectives may well be the result of natural selection; but what is relevant here is not where they came from, but what they are and the difference that they make in what there is.
  4. So, there are two theoretical ideas needed for the Constitution View13 of human persons: the idea of a first-person perspective, the property in virtue of which a being (human or not) is a person, and the idea of constitution, the relation between a human person and her body.
Contents Analysis
  • Part I, “The Metaphysical Background” (Chapters 1-3), explores and defends the two theoretical ideas.
  • Part II, “The Constitution View14 Explained” (Chapters 4-6), uses these two ideas to give an account of human persons.
  • Part III, “The Constitution View15 Defended” (Chapters 7-9), argues for the coherence of the general idea of constitution-without-identity and the coherence of the application of that idea to the notion of human persons; finally, it argues directly for the Constitution View16 by contrasting it with its competitors, Animalism17 and Immaterialism.
Detailed Contents Analysis

Now turn to Persons and Bodies in greater detail.
  1. Chapter 1
    • Sets out the task. Persons and Bodies will answer three questions: What I am18 most fundamentally? What is a person? How are human persons related to their bodies?
  2. Chapter 2
    • Provides a technical account of the idea of constitution. The basic idea of constitution is this: when certain kinds of things are in certain kinds of circumstances, things of new kinds, with new kinds of causal powers, come into existence. For example, when a certain combination of chemicals is in a certain environments, a thing of a new kind—an organism—comes into existence. A world without organisms, even if it contained the “right” combination of chemicals but in the “wrong” environment, would not have the same things in it as a world with organisms. So, constitution makes an ontological difference. It guarantees ontological plurality.
    • The relationship of constitution is ubiquitous. It is not peculiar to human persons and their bodies. It holds between rivers and aggregates of water molecules, between statues19 and pieces of marble, between genes and groups of DNA molecules, between stop signs and octagonal pieces of metal. If x constitutes y at t, then x and y are spatially coincident at t, but they not identical. If x constitutes y at t, then x and y have different persistence conditions20. Identity is a necessary relation; constitution is contingent. (Indeed, I use the notion of constitution to solve problems that others try to solve by notions of contingent identity21, temporal identity22, relative identity23 and so on. The idea of constitution has an advantage over these other views in that the idea of constitution does not compromise the classical notion of identity in its strict Leibnizian form.) I provide a definition of ‘x constitutes y at t’ in order to show that the idea of constitution-without-identity does not suffer from obvious incoherence.
    • If x constitutes y at t, then x and y share many of their properties: x weighs 100 lbs. at t if and only if y weighs 100 lbs. at t; x is worth $10,000 at t if and only if y is worth $12,000 at t. Each of these properties has its source in either x or y. If a piece of bronze constitutes a statue24 at t, then what exists at t is a statue-constituted-by-a-piece-of-bronze25, whose weight has its source in its being (constituted by) a piece of bronze, and whose value (usually) has its source in its being a statue26. This observation leads to the notion of ‘having properties derivatively.’ The piece of bronze has its weight nonderivatively; the statue27 has its weight derivatively. The statue28 has its value nonderivatively; the piece of bronze has its weight derivatively. To have a property derivatively is to constitute, or be constituted by, something that has the property independently of its constitution-relations. Only some properties are subject to being had derivatively. All this is spelled out in two definitions. The notion of having a property derivatively explains why if x and y both weigh 100 lbs. at t, and x and y are not identical, it does not follow that there is an object that weighs 200 lbs. where x is at t.
    • The idea of constitution is decidedly nonreductive. As long as x constitutes y, x has no independent existence. If x continues to exist after the demise of y, then x comes into its own, existing independently. But during the period that x constitutes y, “what the thing really is”—y, constituted by x—is determined by the identity of y. So, what is in front of you when you go to a museum is a statue29 (constituted, perhaps, by a piece of bronze). What the thing most fundamentally is a statue30; but it is constituted by a piece of bronze.
  3. Chapter 3
    • Develops the notion of a first-person perspective. A first-person perspective is the ability to think of—to conceive of—oneself in the first-person without recourse to any name or description or demonstrative. A first-person perspective is necessary for any form of self-consciousness31, and is sufficient for some forms of self-consciousness32. Evidence that a being has a first-person perspective comes from the person’s ability to think a thought expressible as, e.g., “I wonder how I shall die.” The second occurrence of ‘I’ in a first-person sentence, with a psychological or linguistic verb and an embedded first-person sentence indicates that the being has a first-person perspective.
    • Nonhuman animals are conscious (some chimpanzees may even be able to refer to themselves), but as far as we can tell, they do not have first-person perspectives in this sense. They don’t wonder how they will die, or hope that they have a painless death or any other such thing. I argue for the irreducibility of the first-person perspective, and argue that other views of self-consciousness33 (e.g., Rosenthal’s, Armstrong’s, Dennett’s) are inadequate.
  4. Chapter 4
    • Applies the notions of constitution and of a first-person perspective to the issue of human persons. A person is a being with first-person perspective; a human person (at t) is a person constituted by a human body (at t). Human persons are essentially embodied; they can never exist without some body or other, but they do not necessarily have the bodies that in fact constitute them. E.g., it is possible that parts of a person’s human body are replaced by bionic parts until the person is no longer human; still the same person would continue to exist (now constituted by a bionic body) as long as the first-person perspective stayed intact.
    • So, although a human person cannot exist unembodied, she may come to be constituted by a different body from the one that actually constitutes her. If she came to be constituted by a bionic body, she would no longer be a human person. But she would still be a person as long as she existed. A human person is most fundamentally a person, not an animal—just as a bronze statue34 is most fundamentally a statue35, not a piece of bronze. Two separate human persons that exist at the same time are individuated by their bodies. A human person’s body at a time distinguishes her from all other separate persons at that time.
    • A human person and the body that constitutes her are a unity, in the same way that a bronze statue36 and the piece of bronze that constitutes it are a unity. Unlike the statue37, however, I have a first-person relation to my body. Properties that my body has nonderivatively are my properties derivatively. E.g., I have the property of being left-handed and of having brown eyes derivatively; the nonderivative bearer of these properties is my body. When I attribute to myself such properties, I am thinking of myself-as-my-body. On the other hand, .I have the property of being employed or of having asked a question nonderivatively; my body is the derivative bearer of these properties. When I attribute to my body properties that I have nonderivatively, I am thinking of my-body-as-myself.
  5. Chapter 5
    • Discusses the vexing problem of personal identity over time. In virtue of what is a person P1 at t1 the same person as a person P2 at t2? I canvass candidate answers to this question, and show that each fails:
      … 1) sameness of person consists in sameness of body,
      … 2) sameness of person consists in sameness of living organism (Animalism)38,
      … 3) sameness of person consists in sameness of brain,
      … 4) sameness of person consists in psychological continuity39,
      … 5) sameness of person consists in sameness of immaterial soul.
    • Then, I discuss my own view: sameness of person consists in sameness of first-person perspective. Alas, my own view does not provide an informative criterion either. Although I can characterize noncircularly what it is to have a first-person perspective at a time, I know of no noncircular characterization of sameness of first-person perspective over time. Since nobody has an adequate and informative criterion of personal identity over time, I conclude that there is no adequate and informative criterion of personal identity over time: Sameness of person is not reducible to sameness of anything nonpersonal.
    • Nevertheless, construing personal identity in terms of sameness of first-person perspective has its advantages. First, it avoids problems besetting the other views (e.g., species chauvinism, the duplication problem). Second, it accords well with our self-understanding: there is a fact of the matter whether some future individual is I, and that fact of the matter does not depend on the nonexistence of someone else. Finally, the idea of sameness of first-person perspective ties what it is to be a person over time with what it is to be a person in the first place.
  6. Chapter 6
    • Discusses the importance of personhood. Only persons can be moral agents or rational agents. Persons have many cognitive and practical abilities that beings lacking first-person perspectives lack. Only beings with first-person perspectives can know that they are going to die; only such beings can envisage alternative possibilities for their own futures, or seek self-understanding. Only beings with first-person perspectives can have ideals or can try to change themselves to conform better to their ideals. Human persons are not only the products of evolution, but (unlike any other finite beings) only human persons can deliberately change the course of evolution—not only by artificial breeding, but more directly by genetic engineering.
  7. Chapter 7
    • Defends the coherence of the general idea of constitution (without identity) from a number of published criticisms. Here are two examples. First is the criticism that two things consisting of the same atoms (e.g., a statue40 and a piece of bronze) cannot differ in kind; this criticism is answered by a discussion of essential properties. Second is the criticism from counting: that if x is spatially coincident with y, and x not = y, and x is a statue41 and y is a statue42, then where x is there are two statues43. The second criticism is answered by a discussion of the distinction between having a property derivatively and having a property nonderivatively. Also, Chapter 7 discusses criticisms stemming from mereology and supervenience44.
  8. Chapter 8
    • Defends the coherence of the application of the idea of constitution to human persons. I discuss the misleading conception of constitution (which I have spelled out in detail) as mere coincidence of two different things, another version of the “how many” problem, a charge of linguistic incoherence stemming from the reference of ‘I’. I show at length that the Constitution View45 has a coherent account of the relation between an early-term fetus46 and the person that it comes to constitute later. Finally, I reply to a counterexample concerning ghosts made of ectoplasm.
  9. Chapter 9
    • Concludes the book with reasons to accept the Constitution View47. It really is a materialistic view. It can accomplish almost everything that a dualist wants without the burden of dualism. It takes persons seriously in a specified sense: Being a person is relevant to the fundamental kind of individual that one is; elimination of any person would be elimination of an individual; having mental states is relevant to what a person is. No other materialist view takes persons seriously in all three of these respects.
    • The Constitution View48 explains how it is that, although we are set apart by our first-person perspectives, we are still animals. Hence, the Constitution View49 locates human persons in the material world. The general idea of constitution (without identity) allows for a metaphysics that is both materialistic and nonreductive. This general conception of constitution supports an ontological pluralism that honors the genuine variety of kinds of individuals in the world.


COMMENT:

Write-up51 (as at 17/04/2018 21:04:19): Baker - Persons and Bodies - Precis

This Note reviews a full and well-structured précis by Baker of her Book ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Precis of 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View'"), submitted to initiate an e-Symposium (see Link; logged as a pseudo-book – "Baker (Lynne Rudder), Etc. - E-Symposium on 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View'"), convened in 2001 to review "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View". I’ve included below the full text, with annotations as bullets below the numbered sections of Baker’s text. For standard abbreviations52, follow the link.
  1. Persons and Bodies develops and defends an account of persons and of the relation between human persons and their bodies. According to the Constitution View of human persons, as I call it, a human person is a person in virtue of having a first-person perspective, and is a human person in virtue of being constituted by a human body (or human animal).
    TT Notes
    • Note that Baker seems to think it a small matter whether it’s the animal or the body that constitutes the human person. Yet these would seem to have different persistence conditions, so are not the same sort. This distinction is important to Olson.
    • I’m tempted to equate organism and animal here, though others might not. This is what drives a wedge between bodies and animals, because animals are organisms, whereas bodies are not.
    • Baker’s book has “Bodies” in its title, rather than “Animals” or “Organisms”. How important is this (for Baker)?
  2. Thus, the Constitution View aims to give our animal natures their due, while recognizing what makes human persons ontologically distinctive. The Constitution View contrasts with two other leading accounts of human persons: Animalism and Immaterialism. Like Animalism but unlike Immaterialism, the Constitution View holds that human persons are material beings; like Immaterialism but unlike Animalism, the Constitution View holds that we are not identical to the animals that constitute us.
    TT Notes
    • The text terminated with a fragment here: “of course involve self-reference, but it is self-reference of a distinctive kind”. I’m not sure53 where, if anywhere, this was supposed to go. Presumably it should start with “This”.
    • As usual with Baker, “our animal natures” has a pejorative note. She doesn’t really accept that we are really special animals, so that what is ontologically distinctive is the animal, with its special properties, and not some other thing.
    • Does Baker define what she means by animalism? I take it that it’s the view that we are (identical to) animals, and may (at stages of our lives) be persons – a quality or property rather than an ontological kind. As such, we may at times have a first-person perspective (FPP).
    • Does Baker hold that human persons are essentially material beings, and essentially human?
    • What does Baker mean by immaterialism? Is it the psychological view (almost certainly not, as this can be materialist), dualist (pseudo-Cartesian?) or idealist? Or, since Baker doesn’t hold any of these views, does it not matter which?
  3. On the one hand, human persons are constituted by human animals, and hence cannot escape their animal natures; on the other hand, there is more to human persons than their animal natures. What sets human persons apart from other animals has nothing to do with anything immaterial; rather what sets us apart is the ability that underlies our asking, “What am I54?” That ability is a first-person perspective. First-person perspectives may well be the result of natural selection; but what is relevant here is not where they came from, but what they are and the difference that they make in what there is.
    TT Notes
    • Just what are the animal natures we can’t escape? Has this to do with sin?
    • Baker doesn’t take seriously the view that animals differ. Both slugs and elephants are animals, and it seems that elephants understand death – because they mourn (as do primates) – so how do we know they don’t anticipate their own deaths? Would baker be happy with non-human animal persons? If so, the contrast isn’t really with animals, but with non-persons; and this might just reduce – as previously noted – to personhood as a special property of animals (and maybe other beings).
    • Why is asking the question “What am I55?” so very (ontologically) distinctive? Do all (normal) human beings ask this question? What about feral children? Is it cultural? How do we know?
    • I agree that origins aren’t the issue; but it’s about whether we’re talking of a thing, or a property of a thing, however it came about.
  4. So, there are two theoretical ideas needed for the Constitution View of human persons: the idea of a first-person perspective, the property in virtue of which a being (human or not) is a person, and the idea of constitution, the relation between a human person and her body.
    TT Notes
    • So, Baker admits the FPP is a property of a (human) being.
    • Baker insists that the constitution relation is between a human person and her body, rather than animal.
    • Constitution is covered later, but it looks as though human persons have (according to Baker) lots of animal properties (derivatively). Are these aspects of their (human) personhood, or just of their animality?
    • Might I not accept all this – the ontological pretensions aside? Is a student constituted by anything; the animal or the person? Yet the whole view seems to give ontological priority to “something that’s not a thing at all”. The thing is the human being, which has the property of being a student.
    • Note that the “student” counter-example is raised by Olson, and rejected by Baker.
  5. Part I, “The Metaphysical Background” (Chapters 1-3), explores and defends the two theoretical ideas.
    Part II, “The Constitution View Explained” (Chapters 4-6), uses these two ideas to give an account of human persons.
    Part III, “The Constitution View Defended” (Chapters 7-9), argues for the coherence of the general idea of constitution-without-identity and the coherence of the application of that idea to the notion of human persons; finally, it argues directly for the Constitution View by contrasting it with its competitors, Animalism and Immaterialism. Now turn to Persons and Bodies in greater detail.
    TT Notes
  6. Chapter 1 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons in the Material World") sets out the task. Persons and Bodies will answer three questions: What I am56 most fundamentally? What is a person? How are human persons related to their bodies?
    TT Notes
    • Olson doesn’t like the “most fundamentally” rider. Is this question simply asking what is my primary kind? I think Baker uses this expression. So, Baker is saying that PERSON is a kind – but if so, wouldn’t all persons have the same persistence conditions? Maybe (for Baker) they do. Olson notes that gods and animals have different PCs, but this is qua gods and animals. Qua person, according to Baker, they persist as long as they maintain the same FPP. Of course, it’s obscure just what this sameness of FPP consists in.
  7. Chapter 2 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Very Idea of Constitution") provides a technical account of the idea of constitution. The basic idea of constitution is this: when certain kinds of things are in certain kinds of circumstances, things of new kinds, with new kinds of causal powers, come into existence. For example, when a certain combination of chemicals is in a certain environments, a thing of a new kind – an organism – comes into existence. A world without organisms, even if it contained the “right” combination of chemicals but in the “wrong” environment, would not have the same things in it as a world with organisms. So, constitution makes an ontological difference. It guarantees ontological plurality.
    TT Notes
    • So – according to Baker – an organism is “constituted by” its chemicals? It’s true that an organism is not identical to its chemicals – because it can lose or gain matter. So, while it is constituted by chemicals, it is not constituted by any bunch of chemicals in particular (though it is constituted by certain types of chemicals).
    • While “new causal powers” is important to constitution, it’s a thorny issue. I suspect that there are different forms of causation that are confused. For instance:-
    • What causal powers do (human) persons have over and above those of the (human) animals that constitute them.
    • Do statues have any causal powers over and above the matter that constitutes them. No doubt Baker thinks that they “cause” people to steal them, on account of their relation to an art-world. But are the causative powers really in them, or in the world in which they are embedded? It certainly seems to be different from the causative powers of an animal, which does things using its own resources. Tied in with agency / patiency and the philosophy of action generally?
    • Note that "Merricks (Trenton) - Objects and Persons" denies existence to proposed entities without (extra) causal powers; statues being one kind rejected.
  8. The relationship of constitution is ubiquitous. It is not peculiar to human persons and their bodies. It holds between rivers and aggregates of water molecules, between statues and pieces of marble, between genes and groups of DNA molecules, between stop signs and octagonal pieces of metal. If x constitutes y at t, then x and y are spatially coincident at t, but they not identical. If x constitutes y at t, then x and y have different persistence conditions. Identity is a necessary relation; constitution is contingent. (Indeed, I use the notion of constitution to solve problems that others try to solve by notions of contingent identity, temporal identity, relative identity and so on. The idea of constitution has an advantage over these other views in that the idea of constitution does not compromise the classical notion of identity in its strict Leibnizian form.) I provide a definition of ‘x constitutes y at t’ in order to show that the idea of constitution-without-identity does not suffer from obvious incoherence.
    TT Notes
    • I suspect that there are lots of different meanings that can be given to constitution, some less objectionable than others.
    • Just what is supposed to be going on? Is this some sort of emergence of properties? Is constitution “matter plus organisation” or “thing plus further organisation”?
    • Rivers are not constituted by their water molecules, but additionally by their sediments, not to mention their banks, beds and locations. Also, as they are vague objects, there may be conventional elements (just where does the Nile start?). I’m not sure how pervasive these issues are.
    • Note (as usual) that the constitution relation between statues and marble can involve pieces or portions – portions have their parts essentially, while pieces don’t. Can statues be said to be constituted by either?
  9. If x constitutes y at t, then x and y share many of their properties: x weighs 100 lbs. at t if and only if y weighs 100 lbs. at t; x is worth $10,000 at t if and only if y is worth $12,000 at t. Each of these properties has its source in either x or y. If a piece of bronze constitutes a statue at t, then what exists at t is a statue-constituted-by-a-piece-of-bronze, whose weight has its source in its being (constituted by) a piece of bronze, and whose value (usually) has its source in its being a statue. This observation leads to the notion of ‘having properties derivatively.’ The piece of bronze has its weight nonderivatively; the statue has its weight derivatively. The statue has its value nonderivatively; the piece of bronze has its weight derivatively. To have a property derivatively is to constitute, or be constituted by, something that has the property independently of its constitution-relations. Only some properties are subject to being had derivatively. All this is spelled out in two definitions. The notion of having a property derivatively explains why if x and y both weigh 100 lbs. at t, and x and y are not identical, it does not follow that there is an object that weighs 200 lbs. where x is at t.
    TT Notes
    • There appear to be a couple of textual corruptions in the above paragraph. Most obviously the trailing “where x is at t”. And Baker wants to say that “The statue has its value nonderivatively; the piece of bronze has its value derivatively” (not weight).
    • Does the piece of bronze have its value derivatively in two senses?
      1. Because the piece is made of bronze (if it was made of something slightly different, or if the bottom dropped out of the market for bronze, its value would differ).
      2. In virtue of constituting a statue.
    • But surely, the bronze isn’t worth the value of the statue, derivatively or not? It’s worth its scrap value, considered as a piece of bronze – ie. in the absence of an art-market that values this statue. It’s true (I think) that what is constituted inherits some of its properties from whatever constitutes it, but it’s not clear to me that the converse is true, and hence that the “iff” in Baker’s claim is incorrect. However, maybe Baker has to insist on this claim to avoid the charge that there are really two things present. She wants her constitution relation to be almost identity, but not quite.
    • The whole issue of value is thorny. Value is a relational rather than intrinsic property. The value of a statue can change without any change to the statue itself. But the properties of persons seem to be intrinsic (though they may also be valued). Isn’t the first-person perspective intrinsic to the person (and to the animal)?
    • Note, however, that Baker’s definition only claims sharing of “many” properties, not all – so if she wants she can exclude values.
  10. The idea of constitution is decidedly nonreductive. As long as x constitutes y, x has no independent existence. If x continues to exist after the demise of y, then x comes into its own, existing independently. But during the period that x constitutes y, “what the thing really is” – y, constituted by x – is determined by the identity of y. So, what is in front of you when you go to a museum is a statue (constituted, perhaps, by a piece of bronze). What the thing most fundamentally is a statue; but it is constituted by a piece of bronze.
    TT Notes
    • What does Baker mean by “nonreductive”? That the constituting thing is not more important than the constituted? It’s as though the constituted thing “takes over” the constituting thing. This is reductive in the wrong direction (maybe). It seems to be the wrong way round. Surely the piece of bronze still exists when it constitutes the statue – and independently of the statue. The statue only exists because people appreciate it as such.
    • It’s not clear to me how good a model artefacts are for Baker’s other candidates – particularly persons.
    • Can we really take seriously the idea that as an animal (in the normal course of maturation) develops a first-person perspective, it cease to be primarily an animal and becomes primarily a person?
    • There seem to be two levels of constitution in the case of the bronze. It is constituted mereologically and structurally by an ordered collection of atoms – a different collection at different times. This is what is normally meant by “constitution”. Then there’s Baker’s sense, where the piece of bronze constitutes a statue (she says), but all of a piece. The only real difference between the statue and the bronze piece is evaluative. That is, if the piece (qua piece) can have any shape you like. In Gibbard’s TE, we’re allowed to mould Lump1 into a ball, and it still exists, though Goliath doesn’t. See "Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity".
    • How does constitution work if we don’t know what the thing is. Is Baker a universalist (or whatever the term is) with respect to things? Ie. does the contents of any disconnected agglomeration of spacetime segments constitute a thing?
  11. Chapter 3 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The First-Person Perspective") develops the notion of a first-person perspective. A first-person perspective is the ability to think of – to conceive of – oneself in the first-person without recourse to any name or description or demonstrative. A first-person perspective is necessary for any form of self-consciousness, and is sufficient for some forms of self-consciousness. Evidence that a being has a first-person perspective comes from the person’s ability to think a thought expressible as, e.g., “I wonder how I shall die.” The second occurrence of ‘I’ in a first-person sentence, with a psychological or linguistic verb and an embedded first-person sentence indicates that the being has a first-person perspective.
    TT Notes
    • Note the importance of “I” rather than a name. Is there (at most) a single FPP per human animal? Is “multiple occupancy” a problem for Baker – can a human animal constitute more than one person at a time (or – a different question – serially)?
  12. Nonhuman animals are conscious (some chimpanzees may even be able to refer to themselves), but as far as we can tell, they do not have first-person perspectives in the sense. They don’t wonder how they will die, or hope that they have a painless death or any other such thing. I argue for the irreducibility of the first-person perspective, and argue that other views of self-consciousness (e.g., Rosenthal’s, Armstrong’s, Dennett’s) are inadequate.
    TT Notes
  13. Chapter 4 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Constitution View of Human Persons") applies the notions of constitution and of a first-person perspective to the issue of human persons. A person is a being with first-person perspective; a human person (at t) is a person constituted by a human body (at t). Human persons are essentially embodied; they can never exist without some body or other, but they do not necessarily have the bodies that in fact constitute them. E.g., it is possible that parts of a person’s human body are replaced by bionic parts until the person is no longer human; still the same person would continue to exist (now constituted by a bionic body) as long as the first-person perspective stayed intact.
    TT Notes
    • I think this is all wrong; there’s no mention of the brain here, nor of “paring down” a human organism until we’re left with a brain. Just where does the FPP arise? Mostly in the brain, even though this might be disputed. How much of an animal can be replaced before it ceases to be an animal? Is the brain more important than other bits? If the brain were siliconized (for instance) would it retain a FPP? In particular, would it remain phenomenally conscious, or would be have a zombie? Is this an empirical or conceptual question? Could we ever know the answer, other than from the inside, and how could that person convince anyone else, given that a zombie would be as persuasive?
    • What’s the motivation for human persons being essentially embodied? Are human persons essentially human? Baker allows for a human person to be bionicised – and says (in the next paragraph) that while such a being remains a person, it would no longer be a human person. HUMAN PESON is some form of compound kind for Baker, I think58. What makes having a body essential to a human person, if it’s not essential that they have a human body? Bodies aren’t essential to persons as such, by Baker’s lights.
    • Baker’s view about persistence is that it’s sameness of FPP that individuates a person, so why is bodily continuity necessary – Baker’s examples involve gradual change of one body into another. Is this critical, or does Baker allow for immaterial gaps in the same person?
  14. So, although a human person cannot exist unembodied, she may come to be constituted by a different body from the one that actually constitutes her. If she came to be constituted by a bionic body, she would no longer be a human person. But she would still be a person as long as she existed. A human person is most fundamentally a person, not an animal—just as a bronze statue is most fundamentally a statue, not a piece of bronze. Two separate human persons that exist at the same time are individuated by their bodies. A human person’s body at a time distinguishes her from all other separate persons at that time.
    TT Notes
    • Baker says that a human person is most fundamentally a person and not an animal (ie. “a human”). So is it only human persons that are essentially embodied – is it the case (for Baker) that the person that is currently a human person might ultimately be incorporeal? As a Christian, she would no doubt allow the human person to become a spiritual person, with a spiritual body (whatever that is). What about a spirit? Persons as such don’t need to be embodied – God is a person and is not embodied – so could the same FPP that once belonged to a human person be exemplified by a being that is not embodied? If not, why not? And what would then constitute that person? Is constitution something that only matter can do?
    • Bodies individuate human persons – OK. So, Baker is committed to denying the existence of MPD – at least if this implies a multiplicity (as is claimed) of FPPs? And what individuates the person that is currently a human person, when later she may be a person of some other kind? Again, the body; some other body? Is that why it is essentially embodied? What individuates spirits?
    • What maintains the FPP of a human person? If the brain, what would make that very same FPP hop from one brain to another?
    • Isn’t the statue most fundamentally a piece of bronze? The disappearance of the art-world is a mere Cambridge-change from the perspective of the piece of bronze. Are we to suppose that the statue – that very same statue – could come to be constituted by something else? Maybe – if the changes are gradual enough? Though surely what is valuable about an art-work is not its form, but its body? Monetary value, that is. We value the fact that it’s the very object that some great artist produced. If it’s gradually repaired over time so that none of it is the work of the master, isn’t its value diminished? Cf. Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
  15. A human person and the body that constitutes her are a unity, in the same way that a bronze statue and the piece of bronze that constitutes it are a unity. Unlike the statue, however, I have a first-person relation to my body. Properties that my body has nonderivatively are my properties derivatively. E.g., I have the property of being left-handed and of having brown eyes derivatively; the nonderivative bearer of these properties is my body. When I attribute to myself such properties, I am thinking of myself-as-my-body. On the other hand, I have the property of being employed or of having asked a question nonderivatively; my body is the derivative bearer of these properties. When I attribute to my body properties that I have nonderivatively, I am thinking of my-body-as-myself.
    TT Notes
    • Is the unity-relation between statues and their pieces of bronze really the same as that between the person and her body – given that the persistence conditions of artefacts and organisms – and the factors that make for a statue or a person – are so different? Is this a fair analogy? Statues are statues in virtue of something else external to themselves. Are persons such in virtue of something external?
    • What is a “first person relation” in this context? I have a first person relation to my statue, if I own it, but it’s not the same as the relation I bear to my body (in Baker’s – or most people’s – opinion). What does Baker mean?
    • This paragraph is important for indicating what Baker means by the having of properties derivatively and non-derivatively. But we need to press the examples.
    • We can understand, I think, that a person – if personhood is taken to be fundamentally a psychological concept – is left-handed in virtue of her body. But is it right to define persons in virtue of FPPs and psychology? Isn’t a ballet-dancer the person she is partly in virtue of her body, and isn’t she diminished as a person if maimed? Has her FPP changed? I think it has, but has remained the same FPP, so Baker can accommodate this.
    • Eventually, maybe, I will not have any of the corporeal properties I now have – nor most of the mental ones. The question is how best to account for this within the context of a single persistent entity. The FPP is (I think) under-described by Baker, and its persistence conditions are not made clear. Baker has it that it is irreducible (see above). Does this mean it’s an all-or-nothing thing? Identity is, indeed, all or nothing. But, as I’ve said before, the persistent thing with psychological properties is the brain – the Cheshire Cat – and not the FPP, which is simply the Cheshire Cat’s smile.
    • Just who or what is employed? If I’m employed in some role that doesn’t demand a FPP, or worries about immanent death, isn’t it the human animal that’s employed. If I employ a washer-up, do I care whether she has a FPP? And if that FPP somehow migrates away, do I then employ what then constitutes it, even if it’s not then fit for purpose? Aren’t our legal commitments motivated by the human predicament? So, do employment laws apply to non-humans – immortals with no bodily worries, for instance?
    • Can the distinction between myself-as-my-body and my-body-as-myself really be maintained without relative identity?
  16. Chapter 5 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Personal Identity Over Time") discusses the vexing problem of personal identity over time. In virtue of what is a person P1 at t1 the same person as a person P2 at t2? I canvass candidate answers to this question, and show that each fails:
    1. Sameness of person consists in sameness of body,
    2. Sameness of person consists in sameness of living organism (Animalism),
    3. Sameness of person consists in sameness of brain,
    4. Sameness of person consists in psychological continuity,
    5. Sameness of person consists in sameness of immaterial soul.
    TT Notes
    • Well, each of these proposals needs to be taken on its merits, and Baker’s objections reviewed. Then, the best candidate needs to be compared with Baker’s alternative. The pros and cons as understood by Baker can only be considered by detailed consideration59 of her arguments in the book, which are not summarised here.
    • It is interesting, though, that Baker here correctly distinguishes between bodies and organisms. Why then – given that she appreciates the distinction – does she focus on bodies elsewhere in this discussion (and in the title of her book) when her target (Animalism) insists that we are organisms?
    • Note that, by Olson’s lights, she begs the question by insisting that the entity at the t1/t2 termini is in both cases a person.
    • That is, is (as Olson insists and Markosian60 agrees) the question of personal identity distinct from that of our identity?
  17. Then, I discuss my own view: sameness of person consists in sameness of first-person perspective. Alas, my own view does not provide an informative criterion either. Although I can characterize noncircularly what it is to have a first-person perspective at a time, I know of no noncircular characterization of sameness of first-person perspective over time. Since nobody has an adequate and informative criterion of personal identity over time, I conclude that there is no adequate and informative criterion of personal identity over time: Sameness of person is not reducible to sameness of anything nonpersonal.
    TT Notes
    • I see this as the main weakness in Baker’s position (apart from the ontological rants). She admits that she can provide no informative criterion. She adds “either”. But, surely, at least some of these alternative accounts can provide at least some sort of criterion of identity – though it may run into difficulties with vagueness.
    • So, I might agree that psychological criteria, and immaterial souls, are no better off than Baker’s proposals. But what’s wrong with the physical ones? Brains, bodies or organisms.
    • Bodies are a little bit problematical – because the persistence criteria of live ones seem to differ from those of dead ones, and if considered as mere localised hunks of matter, it doesn’t seem that they persist at all. It may be significant that Baker focuses on bodies as the main alternative to her view – choosing a view that’s obviously distinct, yet not very sound?
    • Lots of philosophers are convinced they have principled reasons for thinking that organisms exist, even when they deny the existence of bodies, or undetached proper parts of organisms – brains, for instance.
    • There is room for debate as to just when an organism becomes so mutilated or adulterated as to no longer exist (as an organism) but to have ceased to be and been replaced by something else. While we might admit that we are not brains, if a brain on life support is all that’s left of one of us, we can argue whether it is still an organism; I would say that it is, but one that is “maximally mutilated”.
    • What does "Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities" have to say?
    • I need to read "Olson (Eric) - Review of Jack Wilson's 'Biological Individuality: The Identity and Persistence of Living Entities'" to get Olson’s views.
    • "Wilson (Jack) - Personal Identity Naturalized: Our Bodies, Our Selves" is particularly interesting as a contrast to Baker’s view, though Wilson’s ideas on the persistence conditions of organisms are developed earlier in the book – "Wilson (Jack) - Individuality and Equivocation" might be best.
    • Olson does admit that he has no watertight account of the persistence conditions of animals, but is happy to accommodate61 any suggestions as friendly improvements to his theory of personal identity.
  18. Nevertheless, construing personal identity in terms of sameness of first-person perspective has its advantages. First, it avoids problems besetting the other views (e.g., species chauvinism, the duplication problem). Second, it accords well with our self-understanding: there is a fact of the matter whether some future individual is I, and that fact of the matter does not depend on the nonexistence of someone else. Finally, the idea of sameness of first-person perspective ties what it is to be a person over time with what it is to be a person in the first place.
    TT Notes
    • Species Chauvinism: I cannot see what necessary connection the other views have to this stance. However, as a matter of fact, some proponents of the “immaterial soul” view have denied souls to animals; and Wiggins has taken “person” and “human being” as synonyms (Olson points this out somewhere62).
    • Duplication Problem: just why is the CV view immune to this – or indeed not more exposed to the problem than some other views? Just what sort of thing is a FPP that prevents its duplication? If there are two qualitatively identical human bodies, won’t the FPPs be qualitatively identical. Or, even logically identical, depending on what a FPP is? Baker insists (above) that human persons are individuated by their bodies - but their FPPs are what really matter. How does she deal with idempotent half-brain transplant TEs? Won’t she have the same problem as brain-theorists? Won’t both halves equally support a FPP? And which one was me – or was I two all along, or did I bud a twin in the process of creating the idempotency? There may be answers to these questions, but the CV seems no better off than the brain view.
    • Facts of the Matter: crumbs. Without saying a lot more about how FPPs are individuated, how can this alleged fact be established? How can it be known? If Baker’s point about reduplication is unsound, then first person evidence is insufficient, as it is in any reduplication TE. It can seem to you that you are the same person, but you are deceived.
    • “Only x or y” : this is the principle opponents of closest-continuer theories adopt – so Baker’s view is not unique.
    • What it is to be the same x is what it is to be an x in the first place: this, again, isn’t unique to Baker’s view, but is the standard reason why criteria of identity are useful for helping to define what sort a thing falls under.
  19. Chapter 6 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Importance Of Being a Person") discusses the importance of personhood. Only persons can be moral agents or rational agents. Persons have many cognitive and practical abilities that beings lacking first-person perspectives lack. Only beings with first-person perspectives can know that they are going to die; only such beings can envisage alternative possibilities for their own futures, or seek self-understanding. Only beings with first-person perspectives can have ideals or can try to change themselves to conform better to their ideals. Human persons are not only the products of evolution, but (unlike any other finite beings) only human persons can deliberately change the course of evolution—not only by artificial breeding, but more directly by genetic engineering.
    TT Notes
    • There seems to be a sudden slide in the above from persons to human persons.
    • I need to look at Baker’s arguments for her assertion that “Only persons can be moral agents or rational agents”. Are there any – or is it just “obvious”?
    • What is said of persons is analytic/tautological – as this is just how Baker defines a person in the first place. No-one doubts that personhood is important – at least to those who qualify as persons.
    • In what sense of “know” is it that only those with a FPP can know they are going to die? Do sci-fi robots without phenomenal consciousness know such things? How do they obey Asimov’s Laws otherwise? All sorts of feedback loops are possible for self-improvement without a sense of self. All that’s required is that one be a self, not tat one knows that you are one.
    • What has rationality got to do with a FPP? Isn’t a chess-playing machine rational? Aren’t lots of persons highly irrational?
    • Why – as a matter of logic rather than fact – are human persons the only beings that could – rather than have – affect the course of evolution – and why does this matter in this context? In any case, is it the human person or the human animal that has done this. Couldn’t the Matrix’s Sentinels do it? I agree that how FPPs arose is irrelevant.
  20. Chapter 7 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Coherence Of the Idea of Material Constitution") defends the coherence of the general idea of constitution (without identity) from a number of published criticisms. Here are two examples:-
    • 1. First is the criticism that two things consisting of the same atoms (e.g., a statue and a piece of bronze) cannot differ in kind; this criticism is answered by a discussion of essential properties.
    • 2. Second is the criticism from counting: that if x is spatially coincident with y, and x not= y, and x is a statue and y is a statue, then where x is there are two statues. The second criticism is answered by a discussion of the distinction between having a property derivatively and having a property nonderivatively.
    Also, Chapter 7 discusses criticisms stemming from mereology and supervenience63.
    TT Notes
  21. Chapter 8 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Coherence Of the Constitution View of Human Persons") defends the coherence of the application of the idea of constitution to human persons. I discuss the misleading conception of constitution (which I have spelled out in detail) as mere coincidence of two different thing, another version of the “how many” problem, a charge of linguistic incoherence stemming from the reference of ‘I’. I show at length that the Constitution View has a coherent account of the relation between an early-term fetus and the person that it comes to constitute later. Finally, I reply to a counterexample concerning ghosts made of ectoplasm.
    TT Notes
    • Olson merely ignores Baker’s arguments against “mere coincidence” and insists on double-counting. I need to check carefully whether Baker’s arguments really are persuasive.
    • Baker claims not to have a “fetus problem” – another of Olson’s complaints against her. I think it is right that Baker doesn’t have the problem in the way that other psychological views might. Baker just claims that the fetus doesn’t constitute a person, so she doesn’t need it to suddenly pop out of existence to be replaced by something else. The animal continues from conception (or maybe implantation) to death, but the person is only constituted by that animal for a temporal segment (or, possibly a collection thereof).
    • What is the ghost/ectoplasm objection? It sounds like a misunderstanding of anything Baker might hold.
  22. Chapter 9 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - In Favour Of the Constitution View") concludes the book with reasons to accept the Constitution View. It really is a materialistic view. It can accomplish almost everything that a dualist wants without the burden of dualism. It takes persons seriously in a specified sense: Being a person is relevant to the fundamental kind of individual that one is; elimination of any person would be elimination of an individual; having mental states is relevant to what a person is. No other materialist view takes persons seriously in all three of these respects.
    TT Notes
  23. The Constitution View explains how it is that, although we are set apart by our first-person perspectives, we are still animals. Hence, the Constitution View locates human persons in the material world. The general idea of constitution (without identity) allows for a metaphysics that is both materialistic and nonreductive. This general conception of constitution supports an ontological pluralism that honors the genuine variety of kinds of individuals in the world.
    TT Notes
    • Nothing much to add here, except to repeat that all the benefits of the CV would seem to be available if we say that human persons are human animals, distinguished from other animals by having the special, though temporary, property of being a person.
    • Of course, this doesn’t satisfy Baker’s hidden agenda, of wanting an account of human persons that allows for resurrection or some other form of eternal existence.




In-Page Footnotes ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Precis of 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View'")

Footnote 51:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (17/04/2018 21:04:19).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.



"Garrett (Brian) - The Story of I: Some Comments on L.R.Baker 'Persons & Bodies'"

Source: Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, e-Symposium on "Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View"
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).

Author’s Introduction
  1. In her thorough and comprehensive study "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View", Lynne Rudder Baker argues for what she calls the Constitution View2 of persons. This view comprises two strands.
    • According to one strand, persons are constituted by, but not identical with, their bodies.
    • According to the other strand, persons are essentially self-conscious beings with a distinctively first-person perspective on the world.
    The book is basically an elucidation and defence of these two strands.
  2. I am pretty much in agreement with Baker on both strands.
    • I agree, contra the Animalists3, that persons are not identical to their bodies/brains, but reject Dualism; so I agree that the relation between a person and his body is constitution-without-identity.
    • And I agree that persons are distinctively and uniquely self-conscious beings, with a first-person perspective on themselves and the world.
    (My own views on these matters, for what they’re worth, are set out in my short book "Garrett (Brian) - Personal Identity and Self-consciousness" (Routledge, 1998).)
  3. However, I found it a bit odd that both these strands were described as comprising the Constitution View4, as if the two strands formed a unified view. I would have thought that ‘Constitution View’5 is really only a name for the first, metaphysical, strand; after all, many different metaphysical conceptions of the relation between a person and his body could agree that there is an intimate link between personhood and self-consciousness6. But this may just be a book-keeping point. What of more substantial issues? I have no intention of discussing every issues Baker raises, and will confine my comments largely to claims made in Chapters 3, 5 and 9, ie. to .


COMMENT:

Write-up8 (as at 14/07/2019 18:05:46): Garrett - Persons and Bodies - Response

This Note is currently work in progress9. It discusses a review ("Garrett (Brian) - The Story of I: Some Comments on L.R.Baker 'Persons & Bodies'") of "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Precis of 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View'", submitted to an e-Symposium , convened in 2001 to review "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View" (see Link; logged as a pseudo-book at "Baker (Lynne Rudder), Etc. - E-Symposium on 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View'"). I’ve included below the full text, with annotations as bullets below the numbered sections of Garrett’s text. For standard abbreviations, follow this link10.

Section 1
  1. In her thorough and comprehensive study "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View", Lynne Rudder Baker argues for what she calls the Constitution View of persons. This view comprises two strands.
    1. According to one strand, persons are constituted by, but not identical with, their bodies.
    2. According to the other strand, persons are essentially self-conscious beings with a distinctively first-person perspective on the world.
    The book is basically an elucidation and defence of these two strands.
  2. I am pretty much in agreement with Baker on both strands.
    1. I agree, contra the Animalists, that persons are not identical to their bodies/brains, but reject Dualism; so I agree that the relation between a person and his body is constitution-without-identity. And
    2. I agree that persons are distinctively and uniquely self-conscious beings, with a first-person perspective on themselves and the world.
    My own views on these matters, for what they’re worth, are set out in my short book "Garrett (Brian) - Personal Identity and Self-consciousness" (Routledge, 1998).

    TT Notes
    • Garrett is a bit lax on what Animalism is – he seems to confuse it with other physicalist views (though he himself is a physicalist of some sort). Olson doesn’t think persons are identical to their bodies/brains, and doesn’t think persons as such are what we should focus attention on – but us, who are Animals, and may for parts of our existence, qualify as persons. See "Garrett (Brian) - Animalism and Reductionism" for his rather dismissive account11 of Animalism. Indeed, this chapter is quite important – amongst other things, it discusses the view of persons as phased sortals12 – and is worth addressing in detail soon13.
    • Persons are “uniquely” self-conscious because self-consciousness is definitive of what a person is – any self-consciousness being is a person.
  3. However, I found it a bit odd that both these strands were described as comprising the Constitution View, as if the two strands formed a unified view. I would have thought that ‘Constitution View’ is really only a name for the first, metaphysical, strand; after all, many different metaphysical conceptions of the relation between a person and his body could agree that there is an intimate link between personhood and self-consciousness. But this may just be a book-keeping point. What of more substantial issues? I have no intention of discussing every issues Baker raises, and will confine my comments largely to claims made in:-
    → Chapter 3 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The First-Person Perspective"),
    → Chapter 5 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Personal Identity Over Time") and
    → Chapter 9 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - In Favour Of the Constitution View").

    TT Notes
    • I agree – but Baker describes her whole view as the CV, even though only part of it is strictly constitutional. She might argue that it’s the (alleged) metaphysical (ie. ontological) implications of “taking persons seriously”14 – based on the importance of the FPP – that binds the two themes together.

Section 2
  1. Baker begins her discussion of self-consciousness by distinguishing “two grades of first-person phenomena: weak and strong” (p. 61). Only subjects of strong first-person phenomena have a first-person perspective (and are self-conscious). Why draw this distinction? Because many creatures (animals, infants, etc) have an egocentric perspective on the world, and much of their behaviour can only be explained from that perspective. (As Baker puts it: if a “dog could speak, he might say … ‘There’s a bone buried there in front of me, and I want it.’” (p. 61)). Yet they nonetheless lack a first-person concept and are not self-conscious (not persons). Creatures who exhibit weak first-person phenomena can distinguish between first and third person standpoints, but cannot conceptualise that distinction (cannot “conceive of oneself as oneself” (p. 64, my italics).)
    TT Notes
    • Might it not be that there are selves that don’t know they are selves. Is the issue therefore that consciousness and being a self together are insufficient – a person has to be conscious of its self.
    • Is this Lockean approach to the definition of a person the only possible one?
  2. The distinction between weak and strong first-person phenomena can also be characterised linguistically: subjects of weak first-person phenomena can make first-person attributions (‘I am tall’), whereas subjects of strong first-person phenomena can also attribute first-person reference to themselves (‘I believe that I am tall’). The latter kind of sentence Baker, drawing on ideas of Castañeda, calls an ‘I*’ sentence. Thus thinking ‘I think that I* am F’ “is an indication that one is entertaining an I* thought” (p. 65) and hence has a first-person perspective. On this view, ‘I’ and ‘I*’ express different concepts – a toddler, for example, may possess the former but not the latter. “For a being without a concept of itself as itself*, ‘I’ is just a marker of perspective. Acquisition of a first-person perspective brings with it a genuine self-concept …” (p. 69).
    TT Notes

Section 3
  1. Now I‘m not totally unsympathetic to the spirit of this, but let me make a couple of comments. First, even on her own terms, I don’t see the need for Baker to invoke the ‘*’ terminology. Nor am I sure I understand what ‘I think that I* am F’ is supposed to mean if it means anything other than ‘I think that I am F’. Why didn’t Baker just put her point this way: beings with just a weak first-person perspective can think basic or non-iterated ‘I’-thoughts (‘I am F’), whereas beings with a strong first-person perspective (self-conscious beings, persons) can also think iterated ‘I’-thoughts (‘I think that I am F’). So being able to think iterated ‘I’-thoughts is the hallmark of self-consciousness, and there is no need to make any Castañeda-style comment on, or supplement to, the second occurrence of ‘I’ in such iterations.
  2. Perhaps I can fill out this point. When Castañeda introduced the ‘*’ terminology he did so with respect to the pronoun ‘he’ (not ‘I’). And for good reason. A sentence like ‘John believes that he is bald’ is at least three-ways ambiguous. It could mean that John believes that Bill is bald (because ‘he’ refers to Bill in that context); or it could mean that John believes that John is bald (without realising that he is the John in question); or finally it could be that John is having a fully self-conscious thought about himself, that we would express perspiculously by saying: John believes that he himself is bald. Castañeda’s ‘*’ just marks the ‘himself’ spot, indicating a fully self-conscious thought. Now here the ‘*’ terminology has a point and marks a contrast. But there simply is no such contrast to be drawn in the case of ‘I’: ‘I’ could not but be ‘I*’, so to speak. Could Baker re-phrase her point in terms of ‘he*’? What would her concession to animals and toddlers be then: the dog believes that he* is about to be attacked? But then how would the dog contrast with us? She could say: no, all we can say is that the dog believes that he is about to be attacked. But how do we now characterise the low-grade first-person perspective allegedly had by the dog? (That is, what now makes it worth calling a first-person phenomenon?)
  3. Second, I want anyway to disagree with Baker’s starting point here. I don’t think beings who have perspectives on the world, and can modify their behaviour in response to input from their environment, should thereby be attributed ‘I’-thoughts. Rather, my view would be: there is a simple connection between having ‘I’-thoughts and being self-conscious, viz., a being is self-conscious (has a first-person perspective) iff that being has, or is capable of having, ‘I’-thoughts. Animals and toddlers don’t have ‘I’-thoughts (even though they have some sort of egocentric perspective on the world), hence they’re not self-conscious.
    TT Notes
    • Is Garrett misunderstanding what Baker means by a FPP? The Perspective per se is not really relevant – all minds have a perspective on the world. It’s whether they have a perspective on themselves that seems to count towards personhood – and this perspective has to treat themselves as in some way special (not as some other party that might as well be distinct from themselves).
    • How do we know that dogs and toddlers don’t have ‘I’-thoughts?
    • Just why am I worried about dying? Because I anticipate a bad experience, or a cessation of good experiences? What is fear other than this? Don’t toddlers and dogs experience this emotion – and anticipate other nasty things coming to them from those who are habitually cruel to them (and anticipate goods from those who are habitually kind?).
    • Is it just that persons worry about the future, even when it’s not specifically threatening, because they think it’s their responsibility to provide for themselves. Isn’t this attitude considered a vice in some religions?
    • What’s the issue here between Garrett and Baker? They both think there’s something special about persons, and that dogs and toddlers are not persons. Are they disagreeing about that this special something is, or how it ought best to be described?
  4. Why prefer my account to Baker’s? First, I would not want to attribute ‘I’-thoughts to any old thing that has a perspective on the world and is capable of adjusting its behaviour to fits its goals. Doubtless certain kinds of missile have in-built maps with themselves as origin and can modify their speed and direction in sophisticated ways. But missiles don’t have ‘I’-thoughts. This point is hardly knock-down, but the onus is now on Baker to say how she can treat missiles differently, in this respect, from animals and toddlers. Second, it’s not obvious to me why a being who can have non-iterated ‘I’-thoughts is not also capable of having iterated ‘I’-thoughts. If a thinker can think ‘I think that p’ why can’t he also think ‘I think that I think that p’? Baker would have to insist that iteration involves a massive and qualitative conceptual leap. The trouble is that it doesn’t seem to at all. Third, it seems to make sense to attribute a being present-tense ‘I’-thoughts (‘I am F’) only if it also makes sense to attribute to that being past and future (and maybe counterfactual) ‘I’-thoughts (‘I was F’, ‘I will be F’, ‘I might have been F’). But it’s surely implausible to attribute the latter types of thought to animals and toddlers; so it’s also implausible to attribute to them simple present-tense ‘I’-thoughts.
    TT Notes
    • So we have a hierarchy of intentional beings – with persons at the top and crudely-intelligent machines at the bottom. There are distinctions (of value?) all the way up, and neither Garrett nor Baker want to lump dogs and toddlers with either the machines or the persons (or, presumably) with one another; and want to come up with the best principled way of doing this.
    • All this just goes to show how silly it is to make some sort of ontological (rather than “important property possession”) distinction between persons and non-persons.
  5. In sum, I don’t think that the difference between subjective perspective and self-consciousness is usefully understood in terms of a distinction between basic and iterated ‘I’-thoughts.
    TT Notes
    • This, then, is the issue. Some very basic (even inanimate) entities have perspectives on the world – but these perspectives are not plausibly taken to be ‘I’-thoughts. Higher beings that are not persons don’t have ‘I’-thoughts at all.

Section 4
  1. Baker then makes some comments about some features of the first-person perspective (pp. 69 – 76). I agree with her that all uses of ‘I’ are immune to reference-failure. However, I don’t think that Wittgenstein meant to imply that ‘as object’ uses of ‘I’ are not so immune (if that’s what Baker thinks). The distinction between ‘as subject’ and ‘as object’ uses was, I think, meant to be an epistemic distinction, corresponding to features of different ways of knowing truths about oneself. (Again see Chapters 7 & 8 of my book, and references therein to Evans’ work.)
    TT Notes
  2. Baker then defends an argument to show that the first-person perspective is relational in a certain sense (pp. 72 – 76). I would have liked more discussion of premise (2) of that argument (“x can think of herself as herself* only if x has concepts that can apply to things different from x”). This is presumably supposed to be a necessary truth, but is it obvious that it is? The fact that developmental psychologists accept it is hardly relevant to the question of its necessity. Is it metaphysically or logically impossible for there to be a Solitary Egotistical God? (Issues to do with private language bear here too.)
    TT Notes

Section 5
  1. In pp. 76 – 79 Baker argues for the indispensability of the first-person perspective. The first sort of ineliminability concerns language: “First-person reference is not eliminable from I* sentences, whether it is eliminable from simple, direct-discourse ‘I’ sentences or not.” (p. 76) Leaving to one side my earlier qualms about the ‘*’ notation, I agree with this remark. But Baker is willing to give some credence to the Russell-Geach view that first-person reference is eliminable in direct discourse. I am not (and our disagreement here doubtless leads back to Baker’s willingness to attribute basic ‘I’-thoughts to animals and infants). There are (at least) two ways in which the ‘I’ in ‘I am F’ might be eliminated: ‘I’ might be replaced by (e.g.,) a name OR ‘I’ might be replaced by a quantifier, yielding ‘there is F’ (the Russell-Geach proposal).
    TT Notes
  2. The first way strikes me as implausible. If ever there was a reason for believing in referential opacity, it’s in the case of indexicals. I can surely think ‘I am F’ but not think ‘Garrett is F’ (because I’m amnesiac, say). But then, with Frege, we should think that ‘I am F’ (uttered by me) and ‘Garrett is F’ (uttered by anyone) do not have the same content; so the former cannot be eliminated in favour of the latter. The Russell-Geach proposal is open to a different worry. Suppose I am thinking of Paris and you are thinking of Vienna. It would not be enough to re-write these indexical truths as ‘there is thinking of Paris’ and ‘there is thinking of Vienna’, for this would leave out the fact that I was thinking of Paris and you were thinking of Vienna. So the quantified sentences would need to be relativised to persons. So my thought ‘I am thinking of Paris’ would be rendered either ‘there is thinking of Paris (me)’ or ‘there is thinking of Paris (Garrett)’. If the first, we seem to have simply another way of writing ‘I am thinking of Paris’ (so ‘I’ has not been eliminated). If the second, the earlier opacity objection re-surfaces: ‘there is thinking of Paris (Garrett)’ simply does not capture what I think when I think ‘I am thinking of Paris’.
    TT Notes
  3. So all ‘I’-sentences are ineliminable, in my view. This makes them indispensable in one sense: viz., if someone is thinking an ‘I’-thought, and we want to give a complete inventory of their mind, we must include that very ‘I’-thought in our inventory. But equally, if someone thinks ‘Tully is F’ and ‘Cicero is G’, we must cite those very thoughts in our inventory (at least for those of us, like myself, who believe in opacity quite generally). So there’s nothing special about ‘I’-thoughts in this regard. Given all this, I obviously agree with Baker about her second way in which first-person reference is indispensable: for psychological explanation.
    TT Notes

Section 6
  1. I had a general worry about Baker’s account of self-consciousness, but I’m not sure it’s much of an objection. There is something unsatisfying about it, as if, at the end of it, we still don’t know what self-consciousness really amounts to. She drew some reasonable and familiar distinctions, and laid down some plausible constraints that any account of the concept of self-consciousness must respect, but I didn’t feel that the concept of self-consciousness had been mined particularly deeply. The reason this may not be an objection is that it’s not clear that there is much to be said. It’s not that I think that only a reductive analysis can be satisfying (I don’t). Indeed, it’s pretty clear that the concept of self-consciousness cannot be given any reductive analysis. That is, we cannot analysis ‘self-consciousness’ as ‘consciousness + X’, where X can be characterised independently of the concept of self-consciousness. I take this to be one moral of Anscombe’s example of the ‘A’-users in her thoughtful article ‘The First Person’. (I assume that in the present discussion we’re talking only of the concept of self-consciousness, not the property it’s a concept of. That property presumably is some kind of neural property (in us). It’s only the concept that’s irreducible.)
    TT Notes
  2. It’s something to be told that self-consciousness consists in having a first-person perspective which, in turn, consists in being able to entertain ‘I’-thoughts. Some light is cast. But then the question arises: what is it to have ‘I’-thoughts?, and merely distinguishing ‘I’ thoughts from other kinds of thought, thus showing that ‘I’ thoughts are unique and ineliminable, somehow does not provide much of an answer. Still, this is not an objection to Baker if no one can do any better. I think a bit more can be said about the concept of self-consciousness and its link with the ‘as subject’ use of ‘I’ (see Chapters 7 & 8 of my book), but I agree I don’t say much.
    TT Notes

Section 7
  1. In Chapter 5, Baker discusses the traditional question of personal identity over time. Her own view is that personal identity over time is not analysable in terms of anything more basic. She motivates this view by considering attempts at such analyses, and showing how they fail. She considers a number of familiar criteria of personal identity — sameness of body, sameness of living organism, sameness of brain, psychological continuity, and sameness of soul — and finds them all wanting.
    TT Notes

  2. I agree with many of the points she makes against these criteria. One additional point I would make is that the sameness of living organism criterion really has no advantage over the sameness of body criterion. One objection to the sameness of body criterion is that, according to it and absurdly, I am identical to my corpse. This absurdity is supposed to be avoided if we identify the person with the living organism, rather than the body. But is it? The following question now comes to the fore: is the organism when alive identical to the organism when dead? If ‘yes’, there is no advantage over the body criterion. If ‘no’ (on the grounds that there is no organism after death), then my body now is not identical to my human organism (since my body does exist after death). But that seems an absurd duplication. Either way then, no advantage is gained by moving to the living organism criterion.
    TT Notes

  3. Baker objects to the psychological criterion that it cannot handle cases of branching in a satisfactory way. I have argued that it can (see my book, Chapter 4), but will not press the point here. One point worth making is that the criteria of personal identity that Baker criticises do not exhaust the field. She looks at purely physical criteria and at purely psychological criteria, without looking at mixed criteria of the sort advocated by myself and (I think) Parfit. The view I endorse, for example, says that A at t1 is the same person as B at t2 iff A and B stand to each other in the relation of non-branching psychological continuity, where the cause of the continuity is either normal or physically continuous with the normal cause. Baker will not like this way of avoiding the duplication objection, but it’s at least worth considering mixed views in general.
    TT Notes

Section 8
  1. Another point. Baker seems to think (see especially p. 131) that the various criteria she criticises are intended as reductive accounts of personal identity. I don’t see them that way, at least not in the first instance. In my criterion above, for example, ‘A’ and ‘B’ occur in the RHS, and these names are introduced via the sortal person. There is nothing reductive about the criterion as stated. Of course, if Parfit is right, it may be possible to eliminate reference to persons in the RHS, but that is a further, and controversial, claim.
    TT Notes

  2. Are non-reductive criteria not open to the charge of circularity? Yes, but this is not necessarily an objection. There are circles, and there are circles. A circular analysis can still be illuminating, provided it makes vivid the connections between the target concept and some other range of concepts. For example, it’s circular and useless to be told, as an analysis of the concept red: x is red iff x is red. But it is circular and illuminating (if true) to be told: x is red iff x looks red to normal human observers in normal lighting conditions. This is circular because ‘red’ appears in the RHS, but illuminating because it links red with other concepts (normal human observer, normal lighting conditions). (Wiggins is good on the general point. See Sameness and Substance, pp. 49 – 55.) Anyway, Baker’s objection to the criteria she criticises is not that they are circular, but subject to more straightforward faults.
    TT Notes

Section 9
  1. Now Baker concludes from her critique of standard views that the concept of personal identity is unanalysable or primitive. One cannot “give informative sufficient conditions for sameness of person over time without presupposing sameness of person.” (p. 119) However, and following on from her discussion of the first-person perspective, Baker does feel she can say: P1 at t1 is the same person as P2 at t2 iff P1 and P2 have the same first-person perspective, though she concedes that this condition is not terribly informative.
    TT Notes

  2. However, it soon becomes clear that Baker’s view of personal identity is very radical indeed. (She insists on calling it the Constitution View. Fair enough, it’s a free country. But nothing she says in this chapter (Chapter 5) draws on the metaphysical account of the constitution relation she outlines elsewhere. So it just seems misleading to me.) She seems to think there are no a priori constraints on personal identity over time (i.e., on identity of first-person perspective). In a case of fission, for example, Baker thinks that I could be identical to one of the off-shoots, or to the other, or to neither (even though all other facts remain the same in these three possible scenarios).
    TT Notes

  3. She also says (p. 137) that if either off-shoot had my first-person perspective, I would know it. But how? Both off-shoots would think they were me, and neither would have information the other lacked. How could one know and the other not? Both would believe they were me, and one would be wrong. (I found a number of Baker’s comments on pp. 136 – 8 puzzling, appearing to confuse the synchronic triviality that for any person P at t1, P knows at t1 that he is himself, with some non-trivial diachronic identity claim. There is transparency in the synchronic case, but surely not in the diachronic case. See below.)
    TT Notes

Section 10
  1. Now Baker’s no-constraints view is very radical (though she has an ally in Colin McGinn, The Character of Mind, Chapter 6), and does not follow from her rejection of the standard criteria of personal identity. Let’s take the second point first. Consider an analogy with knowledge. Let’s agree that there is no neat set of necessary and sufficient conditions for ‘S knows that P’. All the standard accounts are open to counterexamples. Does it follow that there is no sufficient condition (however weak) for ‘S knows that P’ specifiable without using the concept of knowledge? Well, no, or not obviously. Isn’t it plausible that (necessarily) if S has a justified true belief, reliably caused in a certain way, counterfactually sensitive to P’s truth-value in other worlds (add in your favourite condition …) then S knows that P? That seems plausible to me; or at least, its falsity does not follow simply from the concession that there is no set of necessary and sufficient conditions for ‘S knows that P’. And I would make exactly the same point against Baker: from the failure of attempts to give informative conditions necessary and sufficient for ‘A at t1 is the same person as B at t2’ it doesn’t follow that there is no set of sufficient conditions.
    TT Notes
  2. And now the first point. Baker’s view (like McGinn’s) is so radical as to be unacceptable. To start with it just seems pretty obvious that there is a (weak) sufficient condition for my identity over time: if my brain, body, and psychological stream continue as normal, and there’s no duplication, fission, fusion, teletransportation, etc., then I will occupy this body tomorrow. But Baker has to deny this, otherwise she would be embracing an informative sufficient condition for personal identity over time. She must think that a different first-person perspective (different person) could occupy my body tomorrow, even though everything else just continues as normal. This strikes me as bizarre.
    TT Notes
  3. The bizarreness shows up epistemically. On Baker’s view, in a case of fission, I could be B or C or neither. Suppose I’m B. Since, ex hypothesi, everything is the same from the perspectives of B and C, neither would know that they were me. Moreover, the fact that I am B would be completely unknowable (by anyone): no one could ever know it. (B would know that he is himself, but that is a triviality.) You might say: so what, maybe some truths are unknowable? (See p. 134.) But the trouble is that the scepticism generalises. Even in a normal everyday case, how is a person supposed to know at t2 that he existed in the same body at t1? He can know that if he knows that the same first-person perspective persisted in the same body from t1 to t2. But how is he supposed to know that, given that he has no privileged access to identity of first-person perspective over time, and given that identity of first-person perspective is not fixed by the facts he does have access to (sameness of body/brain and psychological continuity)? This is an objection to Baker’s view since we do not feel any sceptical qualms when we regularly re-identify our friends and acquaintances. (Remember this discussion is not taking place in the context of Cartesian scepticism.)
    TT Notes
  4. To re-iterate an earlier point: Baker makes it seem that there is no epistemological problem here, but only, I think, by projecting features of synchronic self-identification (criterionless, no identification of a subject, etc) onto diachronic self-identifications (which do not have these features). For example, she writes: “The following seem to me to be incontrovertible facts, easily discernible from a first-person perspective: Every morning when I wake up, I know that I am still existing – without consulting my mirror, my memory, or anything else. I can tell.” (p. 136). But, given Baker’s no-constraints view of the first-person perspective, how can she tell? Remember we’re not concerned with the synchronic, indexical triviality that any person can say the sentence “I am me” and thereby speak the truth (cf. ‘I am here’ and ‘the time is now’). So Baker must be saying that she can tell now (in the morning) that the same first-person perspective has persisted through the night. But how can she tell, on her view? On that view, all the psychological facts (memory, etc.) and physical facts (identity of brain/body) do not fix identity of first-person perspective. Nothing fixes the latter, for Baker, so how can its persistence be known (immediately or otherwise)?
    TT Notes

Section 11
  1. A different point. Baker thinks it’s an advantage of her view that it does not allow for indeterminacy in personal identity over time. But it’s unclear to me both why this would be an advantage and why her view doesn’t allow for indeterminacy. Take the second issue first. What one would expect is that the necessity of such determinacy would flow from the nature of the first-person perspective. But, as noted earlier, Baker doesn’t really say much about the first-person perspective, so the requirement of determinacy just looks like a stipulation on her part. If we think of a case in the middle of Parfit’s Combined Spectrum, where I have half my cells removed and replaced, and have my many of my psychological states altered radically, it’s far from obvious to me that it would be wrong to say: it’s vague or indeterminate whether one and the same first-person perspective has survived. Why would this be an absurd thing to say?
    TT Notes
  2. As to the first issue, I don’t see why it’s a defect in a criterion of personal identity that it allows for indeterminate cases. A belief, quite generally, in the possibility of indeterminate cases arises from the most benign of motives. One simply judges that certain small changes would not destroy the identity of an F, whereas other, bigger, changes would, and so concludes that in cases in the middle range it is indeterminate whether the same F persists. (The only alternative description is that there is a sharp cut-off point. But, like many, I find the idea that a small change could make the difference between identity and non-identity implausible.) For example: I know that changing one plank will not destroy a ship, but that changing all but one plank will (I’ll then have dismantled one ship, and rebuilt another). So in cases in the middle, the sentence ‘the earlier ship is the later ship’ is indeterminate in truth-value. (It’s controversial what the source of this indeterminacy is – language or the world – but that’s a different issue.)
    TT Notes
  3. I think it’s unfair of Baker to characterise the indeterminacy theorist as saying: the resulting ship (person) is partly one ship (person), partly another. A belief in indeterminacy does not involve that kind of incoherence. (Even in the case of colours it would be wrong to describe grey as ‘partly white, partly black’. Grey is a new colour which results from combining white and black. Something is ‘partly white, partly black’ iff it has a white part and a black part.) So I don’t see that it’s a point against a theory of personal identity that it allows for indeterminate cases.
    TT Notes

Section 12
  1. Although it may not be worth mentioning, I really didn’t follow pp. 138 – 40, and couldn’t see what the point of condition (T) was supposed to be.
    TT Notes
  2. Perhaps I can say a bit more. Baker is offering us a sufficient condition for sameness of human person over time. But since Baker (and me) think that ‘person’ and ‘human’ are sortals associated with different criteria of identity, the phrase ‘same human person’ sounds a bit odd. The only way I can understand ‘x is the same human person as y’ is with one or other of the sortals as dominant. That is, either ‘x is the same human person as y’ is true iff x is the same person as y and both are human or ‘x is the same human person as y’ is true iff x is the same human being as y and both are persons. Now we’ve been assuming that the truth-condition of ‘x is same human as y’ is not problematic, and Baker has been telling us what she thinks can be said about the truth-condition of ‘x is the same person as y’, so what new issue is being raised in these pages?
    TT Notes

Section 13
  1. On p. 214, Baker says that “although human persons are not essentially human (they may have [i.e., survive in] inorganic bodies), anything that begins existence as a human person is essentially embodied.” But (on her view) why? We are referred to Chapter 4, presumably principle (T6) of that chapter, but I couldn’t see what the argument for this principle was supposed to be. The reason I’m mentioning this is that I would have thought that anyone with Baker’s views would reject, or at least not endorse, (T6). According to Baker, what makes for personal identity over time is the continuation of the (primitive, unanalysable) first-person perspective. This can continue in non-human bodies, or silicon bodies, or what have you. Fine. But if immaterial souls are a logical possibility, why should it not be logically possible for my first-person perspective to continue in an immaterial soul? I can’t see why Baker would deny this possibility, given her views. Of course, if she thinks that immaterial substances in general are logically impossible (I don’t get the impression she does), that’s obviously a reason to deny that my first-person perspective could continue in an immaterial soul. Even then, though, this denial wouldn’t be a consequence of her theory of personal identity, but of more general views about immaterial substances. Anyway, if immaterial substances are a logical possibility (as even many materialists think), then Baker should not be endorsing (T6).
    TT Notes

Section 14
  1. Finally, can I just observe that I find Baker’s conditions for failing “to take persons seriously”15 (p. 218 – 222) somewhat idiosyncratic. To take persons seriously16, I would have thought, is to agree that persons are valuable beings, whose lives are typically to be valued much more than those of other animals or material possessions. Someone who believes that we are not essentially persons can still take persons seriously17, in this sense of the phrase. And if Baker also wants to understand “taking persons seriously”18 as “regarding persons as irreducible, ineliminable elements of the universe”, then Reductionists, like Parfit, should just turn round and denounce that idiosyncratic sense too.
    TT Notes




In-Page Footnotes ("Garrett (Brian) - The Story of I: Some Comments on L.R.Baker 'Persons & Bodies'")

Footnote 8:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (14/07/2019 18:05:46).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.



"Noonan (Harold) - Arguments Against Animalism: Comments on L.R.Baker 'Persons & Bodies'"

Source: Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, e-Symposium on "Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View"
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).


COMMENT:

Write-up3 (as at 14/07/2019 18:05:46): Noonan - Persons and Bodies - Response

Introductory Remarks
Full Text (with annotations)
  1. In her book Lynne Rudder Baker defends the Constitutive View6 of persons, the most important component of which is that persons7 form a distinct ontological8 kind9, a kind distinct, that is, from that of animals10, and that the relation between human persons11 and those animals12 we call ‘human beings13’ is not identity14 but the relation of constitution15. The most prominent position in the recent literature which she opposes is that known as Animalism16, or the Biological View17, championed particularly by Eric Olson and Paul Snowdon, according to which human persons18 simply are human beings19 who are persons20; ‘person’ is a phase-sortal21 denoting a creature with a particular set of capacities, and there is no distinctive problem of personal identity (any more than there is a distinctive problem of prophet identity or genius identity).
    TT Notes
    • This is an excellently succinct summary of both the CV22 and that of Animalism23. I’ve added links to whatever I have to say on the terms used. However, …
    • The term “human being24” is used in a non-technical sense, presumably as equivalent to “member of the species homo sapiens25”, rather than in the sense used by Mark Johnston.
    • Animalism26 is equated to the BV27, probably correctly.
    • However is it true that all animalists28 consider persons29 to be phase sortals30 of human animals31?
    • Noonan gives “prophet” and “genius” not as examples of phase sortals32 but as examples of individuals with particular capacities, presumably falling under the sort33 human being34.
  2. In what follows I wish to consider
    1. what arguments Lynne Rudder Baker has against the Animalistic position,
    2. how convincing they are, and
    3. how defensible her own position is against criticism.
    I shall also
    1. comment on Baker’s attempt to distinguish her own position for that of the most well-known opponent of Animalism, Sydney Shoemaker, whose psychological continuity35 approach, she suggests faces difficulties that do not confront her own.
    TT Notes
  3. There are two types of argument Baker brings forward in defence of her thesis that persons form a distinct ontological kind:
    1. one type appeals to the distinctiveness of human persons and the discontinuity between the psychological capacities of human persons and those of ‘mere’ animals (dogs, cats, chimpanzees etc.).
    2. The other type of argument appeals specifically to considerations relating to the identity conditions of human persons and their distinctness from the identity conditions of ‘mere’ animals and human beings.
    TT Notes
    • Baker is insistent that there’s a difference of kind and not just of degree between the intellectual capacities of human persons and other animals. Basically, human persons know they are going to die, and animals don’t. Also, that this really matters.
    • Baker thinks that the FPP36 is what individuates persons; and that “mere” human beings are those that are not persons, and have the persistence conditions37 of “mere” animals.
  4. The first type of argument is expressed in passages like this one: “Those who take us to be essentially like non-human animals want to describe and explain our traits in terms of general biological traits shared by other species. But the first person-perspective [definitive of persons], whether selected for or not, is a biological surd in this respect. As I shall argue, it is utterly distinctive and simply cannot be assimilated to traits of animals that do not constitute persons. It is impossible for even the most lovable dog, having no first person perspective, to be dissatisfied with his personality, or to wonder how he will die, or to cogitate about what kind of thing he is….So, if one takes a person to be identical to an animal then one must posit a break in the animal kingdom, between animals with first person perspectives (only us) and animals without them (all others). On the other hand, if one takes a human person to be constituted by an animal, as I advocate, one can regard the animal kingdom as unified. (2000:16)”
    TT Notes
    • Few (human) persons spend much time thinking about the matters that concern Baker and other philosophers.
    • This sort of idea leads philosophers such as Harry Frankfurt to say that wantons38 – who have no higher-order desires – are not persons; but it’s difficult to posit an ontological divide between wantons and other human beings.
    • Baker wants both her cake and the eating thereof – she wants both an ontological rift and ontological continuity.
    • Finally, the higher animals are intentional agents, and have a window on the world – their perspective on the world.
  5. Again Baker writes: “The first person perspective, or the abilities that it brings in its wake, may well be a product or a by-product of evolution by natural selection. My claim is this: However the first-person perspective came about, it is unique and unlike anything else in nature, and it makes possible much of what matters to us. It even makes possible our conceiving of things as mattering to us. The first-person perspective – without which there would be no inner lives, no moral agency, no rational agency – is so unlike anything else in nature that it sets apart the beings that have it from all other beings. The appearance of a first-person perspective makes an ontological difference in the universe. (2000:163)”
    TT Notes
    • How do we know that the higher animals have no inner lives? That social animals have no morality appropriate to their societies? That they aren’t to some degree rational – at least not completely incomparable with many human beings?
  6. It is hard to see that there is much of an argument here. The capacity for the self-ascription of first-personal thoughts, which is what Baker means by the first-person perspective, can surely be agreed by everyone to have the fundamental significance in our view of ourselves and our perception of the gap between ourselves and non-human animals on which Baker insists, but the move to the claim that it has ontological significance is not compelling. In a sense, as Baker says, Animalists do not take persons seriously39; they think that, however important to us it is that we are persons, we are not essentially persons, and personhood could cease to be a feature of the world without any entity ceasing to exist. But Animalists will agree that they do not take persons seriously40 in this stipulated sense and deny that it shows a lack of appreciation of the significance of personhood.
    TT Notes
    • So, Noonan seems to think that Baker doesn’t really argue for her ontological claims – or at least that whatever argument there is, is not compelling.
    • So, everyone agrees that being a person is important – especially to persons – but most will deny Baker’s ontological claims.
    • Is Noonan’s understanding of what Baker means by the FPP41 “The capacity for the self-ascription of first-personal thoughts” correct? How is a capacity – however ontologically important – individuative?
  7. In fact Baker seems to be aware that this first line of defence of her position will not persuade. She writes: “Here we have a bedrock clash of intuition. On the Animalist View, I am essentially an animal; my continued existence is nothing other than the continued existence of an animal. On the Constitution View … I am not essentially an animal … with the entrance of the first-person perspective in the world comes a new kind of thing …. It is obvious to me, although not to everyone, that a first-person perspective makes an ontological difference in the world. However, I do not know how to adjudicate intuitions at this level.”
    TT Notes
    • Indeed; saying that some intuition is “obvious” is hardly an argument. Baker gets reduced to shouting.
  8. Let is then pass on to the second type of argument Baker gives against Animalism and in favour of the Constitution View, that human persons and human animals differ in their identity conditions. The appeal here is to the familiar type of thought experiment illustrated by Locke’s Prince and Cobbler, or the updated versions put forward by Shoemaker and other writers involving brain transplants42 or information-state transfers43. Baker writes: “‘If sameness of person consists in sameness of living organism, then all of these stories would be not only fictional, but incoherent…. Anyone who takes hundreds of years of thought experiments as attempting to depict what is metaphysically incoherent should show how so many have gone so badly wrong…no such account is forthcoming from those who take personal identity to consist in bodily identity’ (2000:123-4).”
    TT Notes
  9. This is a powerful argument: Animalists have to explain away intuitions, in particular the ‘Transplant Intuition’, that a human person goes where his brain goes, which have considerable hold on us. Until they do so we have no reason to reject them. The situation is really no different from other cases where Baker sees a constitution relation as obtaining. We distinguish between artefacts and the masses of matter that makes them up, and what makes it compelling to do so is our conviction that artefacts can undergo change of matter and that the matter constituting an artefact at one time might constitute a different artefact (of the same or different type) of another. The fact that in the case of personal identity divergences from bodily identity are, so far as we know, merely possible, does not lessen one whit our conviction that if such cases were to occur persons would have to be regarded as distinct from organisms and hence does not in any way reduce the strength of the case for the conceptual distinction between personal identity and identity of organisms.
    TT Notes
  10. The argument that our response to such cases provides for the distinction between personal identity and identity of organisms, does not, however, take us quite as far as Baker wants to go. The analogous case of the relation between an artefact and its constituting matter illustrates the point. An artefact, say a dishpan can be repaired and patched up and the matter constituting it at one time used to make a quite different artefact. An artefact which has such a history must be distinguished from the matter which constitutes it at any time. It does not follow that every artefact of the kind must be distinguished from its constituting matter: a dishpan created simultaneously with the piece of plastic which constitutes it, which is annihilated along with that piece of plastic, and differs in no actual respect from the plastic can consistently be identified with the plastic despite the modal difference between them (this, of course, is Lewis’s example and Lewis’s position). Similarly, it is one thing to accept that if it is possible for personal identity and identity of organism to diverge and another thing to accept that no actual person is identical with any actual organism, and in particular, that no actual human person is identical with any actual human being. The argument for this claim cannot just appeal to possible differences, but must appeal to actual differences. But here it is relevant to appeal to the fact that actual human foetuses (and infants up to a certain age) lack the first-person perspective and so are not persons in Baker’s (wholly traditional) sense. There are, then, actual human organisms that are not human persons. Is it also the case that there are actual human persons that are not human organisms, or is the case merely like that of teenagers and people (there are people who are not teenagers, but there are no teenagers who are not people – though parents may sometimes wonder). The argument that the two cases are unlike, i.e. that ‘human person’ is not merely a phase sortal, is precisely that we can conceive personal identity in distinction from identity of human organism in the way illustrated in the familiar Lockean and neo-Lockean cases.
    TT Notes
  11. I think, then, that Baker presents a strong case against animalism. Although human persons need not be distinct from human organisms (science-fiction examples of co-existence analogous to Lewis’s example of the dishpan and the piece of plastic are conceivable), in fact they are – or such is the conclusion to be drawn if our intuitions about cases of bodily transference cannot be explained away.
    TT Notes
  12. The main difficulty for this position, which recent discussion has brought to the fore, is, in one version or another, the ‘Many Minds Objection’. If I am a thinking intelligent thing, so is the human animal with whom I presently coincide (we have the same brain and have had and will have for quite a while); so, if I am thinking that it is raining, for example, in virtue of the state of my brain and present and past external circumstances how could the human animal fail to be thinking and thinking exactly the same thought. But are there really two thinking things here, and if so when I say ‘I want my dinner’, is there one thought being thought by two thinkers, or two thoughts, and, in either case what is the reference of the first-person pronoun contained in the utterance?
    TT Notes
  13. Baker is vividly aware of the need to respond to the ‘Many Minds Objection’ but I think that she would have made her position more plausible if she had pointed out that this objection needs to be confronted by a variety of well-known positions. The position of the historical Locke is one such: for Locke operates with a tripartite analogy of persons, thinking things and men. He distinguishes the identity conditions of persons and thinking things but is adamant that whenever a person thinks there is a thinking thing (non-identical with the person) thinking ‘in’ the person; so when a person thinks an ‘I’-thought, so does the thinking substance then thinking ‘in’ it. Is the thinking substance then thinking about itself, or the person it is thinking ‘in’? Another position that needs to confront the Many Minds Objection is any that accepts that persons are summations of temporal parts and accepts with David Lewis that person-stages, like persons, are thinking intelligent things with beliefs and desires. For on this view, as I sit here, so do many other (shorter-lived) thinking things. It is important to appreciate that the conception of person as four-dimensional summations of parts is part of a general conception of all constituents as four-dimensional, so insofar as there are good arguments for it, Animalism itself needs to confront the Many Minds Objection. Baker herself does not accept the four-dimensional viewpoint, but it needs to be recognised that Animalists cannot wield the Many Minds Objection as a weapon against their opponent in good faith unless they feel able to refute the arguments for four-dimensionalism.
    TT Notes
  14. But how can the Many Minds Objection be replied to?
  15. I think the neatest response for anyone who needs one (including the Animalist if he adopts four-dimensionalism) is to reject Locke’s original definition of a person, substitute for it the notion of the object of self-reference and distinguish between the ‘I’-user and the reference of ‘I’. Then Locke can say that in the problematic situation in which a person and thinking substance coincide, the thinking substance can indeed think ‘I’-thoughts, but is not thereby constituted a person, for the reference of its ‘I’-thought is not itself, but the person with whom it is sharing these thoughts. The four-dimensionalist can say the same, mutatis mutandis, about the relation between a person and its current person-stages, and Baker can say the same mutatis mutandis, about the relation between a person and a temporarily coincident human animal.
    TT Notes
  16. I think, then, that Baker’s rejection of Animalism is well-founded and her own point is defensible against the most popular Animalistic objection. But is there any reason to accept Baker’s position rather than, say, the psychological continuity account defended by Sydney Shoemaker? Baker thinks that there is, since her account (a) does not face the reduplication objection and so does not have to take a ‘closest continuer’ form and (b) does not allow for indeterminacy of personal identity. The reason for this, she thinks, is because her account is given in terms of sameness of first-person perspective over time.
    TT Notes
  17. I found this unconvincing. As Baker explains the notion of ‘the first-person perspective’ it primarily denotes a capacity – the capacity to self-ascribe first-person thoughts. This is a property possessed by many distinct things. To give an account of personal identity over time in terms of the first-person perspective, Baker needs to refer to token instances of this property, which are individuated by their possessors. But then the account is empty. It is as if one first explained the notion of a ‘genius’ by saying that a genius is anyone with a certain level of intellectual ability (‘genius-level’) and then gave an account of the identity of geniuses over time by saying that genius G1 at time t1, is the same genius as genius G2 at time t2 iff G1 has at t1 the same genius-level ability as genius G2 at t2.
    TT Notes
  18. Anyway, it is far from clear that the advantages Baker claims for her account are indeed advantages. It is, in particular, utterly unclear to me why the possibility of indeterminacy in personal identity is not exactly what we should expect given that the term ‘person’, like every other empirically applicable term in our vocabulary is fashioned for use in the situations in which we actually find ourselves, and not the science-fictional cases in which our intuitions begin to flounder. No one would think that any future situation must be one in which determinately either their car (or their cat) survives or it does not. Why should I think that any future situation must be one in which determinately either I survive or I do not?
    TT Notes
  19. I am also unpersuaded that the reduplication problem is as great a problem for a psychological continuity account as Baker suggests. There is nothing logically incoherent about ‘best candidate’ accounts of identity over time, for persons and other things. Our concepts could be ones that conformed to such accounts. A great many philosophers (who are competent users of these concepts, after all) think that they are. On the other hand, one can defend a psychological continuity account of personal identity without accepting that the concept of personal identity has a ‘best candidate’ structure by adopting the multiple occupancy view, advocated by David Lewis. Again, there is nothing logically incoherent about this position. Our concepts could conform to the account it gives. Perhaps they do. Or perhaps it is indeterminate whether our concepts are correctly described by this account or by a ‘best candidate’ account. Given that it is only in hypothetical situations that the differences come out, that would hardly be surprising.
    TT Notes




In-Page Footnotes ("Noonan (Harold) - Arguments Against Animalism: Comments on L.R.Baker 'Persons & Bodies'")

Footnote 3:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (14/07/2019 18:05:46).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 5:
  • The numbering is mine, as – sometimes – are the section-breaks.



"Olson (Eric) - Thinking Animals and the Constitution View"

Source: Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, e-Symposium on "Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View"
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).

Sections
  1. The Arguments Against Animalism2
    1. The Argument From Fiction
    2. Animalism3 is not a Contender
    3. Animals are Brutish
    4. The Corpse4 Problem
  2. Baker's Defence of the Constitution View5


COMMENT:

Write-up7 (as at 14/07/2019 18:05:46): Olson - Persons and Bodies - Response

Notes – Introduction

Olson’s Text & My Commentary
  1. Plan
    1. Having already written a formal review – "Olson (Eric) - Review of Lynne Baker's 'Persons And Bodies'", I see this exchange as a sort of tutorial. I will try to explain why I found certain parts of the book puzzling or implausible, and Professor Baker will try to set me straight. With any luck, other readers of her book will have had misunderstandings similar to mine, and will benefit as well.
    2. I will discuss two themes: Baker's arguments against Animalism and her defense of her view against an important objection.
  2. The Arguments against Animalism
    1. Baker's view is that each of us is "constituted by" a human animal without being identical with it. The most obvious alternative is that we are animals, or, as Baker would prefer to say, that each of us is numerically identical with something that is non-derivatively an animal. (I'll say more about the qualification 'non-derivatively' later.) I have defended "Animalism", as this view is sometimes called, and so I have a special interest in her criticisms of it.
    2. The Argument From Fiction (122f.): If you are identical with an animal, then whatever happens to that animal is what happens to you, and vice versa. Since no animal could change bodies or become partly or wholly inorganic, you couldn't either. Yet body-changing is a staple of science fiction and philosophical thought experiments. Animalism implies that those stories are necessarily false. Yet we find them so plausible. The obvious explanation is that the things they depict are possible. Unless there is a good explanation for our readiness to accept these stories that is consistent with animalism, we ought to reject that view.
    3. The general idea is this: If someone tells a story and the audience is willing to go along with it--no one is unable to enjoy the story because of an antecedent conviction that the events depicted therein are impossible--we ought to conclude that what happens in it is possible. Or at least we ought to unless we have a good explanation for this willingness that is consistent with the story's impossibility. I must confess that I don't find this argument form very persuasive. If it supports the possibility of body-changes, then it equally supports the possibility of backwards time travel, faster-than-light travel, reincarnation, theism, universal translation machines, and artificial intelligence (think of the intelligent toasters, teapots, and shunting engines in children's stories). These are all things whose possibility is seriously disputed. Should we let the Argument From Fiction settle the issue? I don't think so.
    4. For that matter, this sort of argument can easily support inconsistent conclusions. If someone told a good story about a mathematician discovering a proof of Goldbach's conjecture (that every even number is the sum of two primes), I'm sure people would go along with it. If someone told a good story about a mathematician discovering a counterexample to Goldbach's conjecture – a disproof – people would go along with it just as readily. I take it that any mathematical claim that could be true is true. So if this sort of argument is worth anything, it is evidence both for Goldbach's conjecture and for its denial. And that is to say that it is no evidence at all.
    5. In any case, there is a fairly obvious explanation of why we find these stories plausible: Whenever someone tells a story, we tend to go along with it, unless perhaps the story is obviously impossible. This is especially so if the story is well told. (Why this is so is a matter for empirical psychologists; but it's clearly true.) And neither body changing nor any of our other examples is obviously impossible. But of course something can be impossible without being obviously impossible.
    6. Here is another, independent explanation for the "body-changing intuition". If someone has memories, personality, and other mental traits just like yours, that is strong evidence for his being you. As things are, it is conclusive evidence, since brain transplants, fission, and so on don't actually occur. That makes it easy to suppose that anyone with mental traits just like yours in various science-fiction stories would be you. But that is consistent with the claim that, because you are in fact an animal, body changing is impossible.
    7. Animalism is not a contender (124). What it takes for a person to persist through time must have something to do with what it is to be a person. To be a person is to have certain mental features. So a person's identity through time must essentially have something to do with psychology. But psychological matters are irrelevant to animal identity: a human animal could survive as a vegetable with no mental features at all. So Animalism isn't an account of personal identity at all.
    8. Well, I'm a person, and Animalism is an account of my identity. Isn't it therefore an account of personal identity? It is certainly in competition with views that Baker would consider accounts of personal identity, such as her own. Presumably Animalism isn't an account of personal identity because it doesn't give the identity conditions of persons as such. That is because if some people are animals there are no identity conditions that necessarily apply to all and only persons. Animal persons would have the same identity conditions as animals that aren't persons (dogs, for instance), and different identity conditions from persons that aren't animals, if such there be (gods, angels, intelligent computers). Why is that a problem? Baker agrees that there are no conditions of student identity or philosopher identity as such--no identity conditions that necessarily apply to all and only students or philosophers. She will reply that that is because we are essentially persons and only accidentally students or philosophers. But why accept that we are essentially persons? What's more, we have many essential properties that don't determine our identity conditions: being material objects, and being such that 5 is odd, for instance.
    9. Baker complains that any view on which persons are only accidentally persons "doesn't take persons seriously9". And no animal is essentially a person on Baker's definition of 'person'. So if we were animals, "Every person in the world could be eliminated without eliminating a single individual"; thus, "persons as such have no ontological significance" (220). She takes this to be a reductio ad absurdum of Animalism.
    10. I find this hard to understand. Insofar as it has any force at all, it seems to turn on an ambiguity in the word 'eliminate'. To say that we could eliminate all the persons without eliminating any individual sounds like a contradiction. It sounds like the claim that we could cause all the persons to cease to exist without causing any individual to cease to exist. That is because to "eliminate" a being usually means to destroy it, so that it no longer exists. To eliminate a sports fan you have to kill her, not merely cause her to lose interest in sports. You can't eliminate a blue car just by painting it red. But by "eliminating" a person Baker means just causing her to stop being a person. So the supposed reductio is nothing more than the claim that if Animalism were true you could cause all the persons in the world to stop being persons without causing any of them to cease to exist. And that is just a restatement of the view that persons are only accidentally persons. Where is the objection?
    11. For that matter, Baker must concede that her own view" doesn't take students seriously", and "gives students as such no ontological significance". Why isn't that just as bad as "not taking persons seriously10"?
    12. Baker also complains that Animalism is "chauvinistic" because it rules out the possibility of non-animal people (122). This is a criticism of the view that to be a person is to be an animal of a certain sort (held by Wiggins and Wollheim), which unfortunately is also sometimes called 'Animalism'. I mean by 'Animalism' the view that we human people are animals. And that is compatible with the existence of wholly inorganic people: gods, angels, demons, or what have you.
    13. Animals are Brutish(12-18). Animals are interested only in surviving and reproducing. That is because they lack the ability to think about themselves in the first person. But anything with a first-person perspective is "basically different" from anything without one. Thus, if human animals had a first-person perspective, there would be "a biological break or gap between human organisms and nonhuman organisms". The animal kingdom would be fundamentally disunified. That is implausible. Hence, because we have a first-person perspective, we couldn't be animals. In short: Animals are brutish and we're not; so we're not animals.
    14. I don't see any problem in the idea that some animals have a mental ability fundamentally different from the mental abilities of other animals. Baker says this is inconsistent with the fact that "human animals are biologically continuous with nonhuman animals". But why can't beings that are genetically and physiologically rather similar, as human beings and chimpanzees are, be psychologically quite different? Nor do I understand how the Constitution View is any better than Animalism in this respect. It says that human animals can think in the first person in the sense of constituting persons who can do so, an ability that no other known organism has. Why is that any less of a biological discontinuity than human animals' having a first-person perspective in their own right?
    15. The Corpse Problem (207f.) Unless your death is particularly violent, the matter that makes you up at the moment of your death will make up a corpse afterwards. It is obvious that that corpse exists before you die, though of course it isn't dead then. But the Animalist must say that you cease to exist when you die. How, then, do you now relate to your "corpse-to-be"? The Animalist has no satisfactory answer to this question. ("Shoemaker (Sydney) - Self, Body, and Coincidence" makes a similar objection.)
    16. Let me try to make the argument more explicit:

      1. When a human animal dies, there is ordinarily a concrete material object – its corpse – spatio-temporally continuous with it.
      2. An animal's corpse doesn't come into existence when the animal dies; it exists and coincides with the animal before the animal dies.
      3. An animal ceases to exist when it dies.
      4. Hence, each human animal coincides, while it is alive, with a corpse-to-be that is numerically different from that animal.
    17. Why is 4 supposed to be a problem for Animalism? Well, Animalists object to the idea that a human person is numerically different from the human animal that coincides with her. Since the animal is rational and conscious, that means that there is a rational, conscious being other than you--the person--located where you are, which is absurd. (More on this later.) If that is a problem for those who deny that we are (non-derivatively) animals, then the existence of a "corpse-to-be" numerically different from the animal might be a problem for Animalists. For the corpse-to-be might also be rational and conscious. (As long as it is alive, it is presumably physically indistinguishable from the animal. What could prevent it from being rational or conscious?) If so, then Animalism too has the absurd consequence that there is a rational, conscious being other than you now sitting in your chair. So the rest of the argument is this:

      5. An animal's corpse-to-be is rational and conscious at a given time if that animal is rational and conscious then.
      6. Hence, each human animal coincides with a rational, conscious being numerically different from it, which is absurd.
    18. I can't see that this is any more of a problem for Animalism than it is for the Constitution View. If it has any force against Animalism, then the argument you would get if you replaced the word 'animal' with the word 'person' would have equal force against the Constitution View. Baker apparently thinks she can solve the problem by saying that the corpse-to-be and the person are numerically different but not "separate". I don't myself see how this solves anything (see below). But if it saves Constitutionalism from the corpse problem, then denying that the corpse-to-be and the animal are "separate" would save Animalism from the corpse problem. So I don't understand why Baker thinks this is a problem for Animalism.
    19. However, the Animalist who accepted this supposed solution would deprive herself of a strong argument for Animalism: there is a rational animal located where you are; you are the rational being located where you are; hence, you are an animal. For on Baker's view the animal isn't the only rational being located where you are: there is also a rational corpse-to-be. Is there another way out for the Animalist?
    20. The Animalist might reject 3, and say that an animal continues to exist as a corpse after it dies. Many Animalists do say this ("Carter (William) - Will I Be a Dead Person?":89-105, "Feldman (Fred) - Confrontations with the Reaper: A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death", "Mackie (David) - Personal Identity and Dead People"). It is the obvious conclusion to draw from 2: if there really is a "living human body" now located where you are, and that now-living thing will one day be a corpse, that is presumably because the animal that is now living will one day be dead. What else could your "living body" be but an animal? On the other hand, if 3 is true – if an animal ceases to exist when it dies – then there is no reason to suppose that any material object is first alive and then dead.
    21. Now I believe that a living organism does cease to exist when it dies. As I see it, living organisms and corpses are profoundly different ("Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology":ch. 6). A living thing, like a fountain, exists by constantly assimilating new matter, imposing its characteristic form on it, and expelling the remains. A corpse, like a marble statue, maintains its form merely by virtue of the inherent stability of its materials. The changes that take place when an organism dies are far more dramatic than anything that happens subsequently to its lifeless remains. I have never seen a plausible account of what animal identity consists in – something that would tell us what sorts of adventures an animal, could "survive", and which would bring its existence to an end – that allowed for a living animal to continue to exist as a decaying corpse. What does it take to get rid of an organism, if killing it isn't enough? But the question of what it takes for an organism to persist through time is a difficult one, and I'm not terribly confident about this. If I am wrong about animal identity, I would see it as a friendly amendment to my view.
    22. What if I am right about animal identity, and 3 is true? Am I then in trouble? Well, I could deny 1, that there are such things as corpses. It isn't obvious that the particles left over when an animal dies compose a composite material object. Alternatively, I could deny 2, and say that the corpse comes into being when the animal dies. This seems no less plausible than saying that the animal ceases to exist when it dies. If death can be the destruction of one being, why can't it be the advent of another? And anyone who accepts 2 faces the problem of giving persistence conditions that apply to something that is first alive and constantly changing its parts, and then dead – a trick I have never seen done. 2 strikes me as a metaphysical dogma with no real support.
  3. Baker's Defense of the Constitution View
    1. A large portion of Persons and Bodies is devoted to answering objections to constitution views. Let me consider one such objection (or perhaps a cluster of objections). I call it "the problem of the thinking animal".
    2. Baker agrees that there is a human animal located where you are – the one that constitutes you. That animal has a highly developed brain and nervous system in good working order. (Its brain is your brain.) It belongs to a community of speaking, thinking beings, and is highly educated. It has just the right sort of evolutionary history. That ought to enable the animal to think and experience. In particular, the animal ought to have all the mental properties that you have. If the animal lacked some mental ability that you have – if it couldn't think first-person thoughts, for instance – then there ought to be some explanation for this difference. (And since the animal is physically indistinguishable from you and has the same surroundings, explaining why it can't think in the way that you can won't be easy.) So there seems to be a rational, self-conscious, thinking animal located where you are. But Baker denies that you are that animal. She concedes that you might "be" the animal in the sense of being constituted by it; but you aren't numerically identical with it. (The view that you are identical with the animal is Animalism.) Thus, there is a rational, thinking, self-conscious being located where you are, and presumably thinking your thoughts, that is numerically different from you.
    3. This, the objection goes, is implausible for three reasons. First, it means that there are at least twice as many rational, self-conscious beings as we thought there were. (I say at least twice because Baker apparently thinks that your corpse-to-be is a third rational, self-conscious being located where you are, identical with neither the person nor the animal.) At least two philosophers wrote these comments, and at least two philosophers are sitting in your chair and reading them now. We might call this the overpopulation problem.
    4. Second, you ought to wonder which philosopher you are. Are you the animal philosopher or the person philosopher? You may think you're the person. But the animal presumably has the same beliefs as you have. So it believes that it is the person. (If you think you're a person and it doesn't, there ought to be an explanation for this difference.) It has the same reasons for thinking that it is the person rather than the animal as you have for thinking that you are. But it is mistaken. How do you know, then, that you're not the one making the mistake? If you were the animal rather than the person, you'd still believe you were the animal. So even if Baker is right and you are a person constituted by an animal, you could never know this. For all you know, you are an animal constituting a person. We might call this the epistemic problem.
    5. Third, since the animal (we are supposing) has the same mental properties as you have, that ought to make it a person. (It would satisfy most accounts of what it is to be a person that philosophers have proposed.) But if the animal is a person, then people come in two kinds: animal people, who are identical with animals and have the identity conditions of animals; and people constituted by but not identical with animals, with the identity conditions that Baker thinks we have. But the Constitution View says that no people are identical with animals. On the other hand, if the animal that constitutes you isn't a person, then at most half of the rational, intelligent, self-conscious, morally responsible beings walking the earth are people. Being a person, per se, would have no practical significance. (What's more, we could never know whether we are people.) That conflicts with most accounts of what it is to be a person. We might call this the personhood problem.
    6. As I see it, there are two ways of responding to these problems (short of saying that you are identical with "your" animal). First, the Constitutionalist might deny that the animal can think, or at least that it can think in the way that you can. There is no thinking animal numerically different from you, but only an unthinking animal. But why can't the animal think? Shoemaker proposes that animals can't think because they have the wrong identity conditions ("Shoemaker (Sydney) - Personal Identity: a Materialist Account":92-97, "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Personal Identity: a Materialist Account"). The nature of mental properties entails that mental continuity must suffice for their bearers to persist through time. This has the astonishing consequence that there are, strictly speaking, no intelligent or even sentient animals. What appear to be sentient animals are in reality insentient animals that stand to sentient non-animals as human animals stand to you and me on the Constitution View. If you and I have the physical properties that animals have – if we really are six feet tall and weigh 160 pounds, etc. – then this means that beings with the same physical properties can and regularly do differ radically in their mental properties: each thinking person coincides with an animal physically indistinguishable from her that has no mental properties at all. Mental properties fail to supervene11 on physical properties in even the weak sense that necessarily any two beings with the same physical properties will have the same mental properties (though there may be global psychophysical supervenience12 on Baker's view). A being's physical properties (including those of its surroundings) don't even cause it to have the mental properties it has. This is hard to believe. I think Shoemaker's account has further problems as well, though I can't go into it here.
    7. The other sort of response is to accept that the animal located where you are has the same intrinsic mental properties as you have, and try to solve the problems that this raises through what I would call linguistic tricks. For instance, whenever two thinking beings are as intimately related as you and "your" animal are, we "count them as one" for ordinary purposes. That is, we speak as if they were one. When I write on the copyright form that I am the sole author of this essay, I don't mean that every author of this essay is numerically identical with me. I mean only that every author of this essay bears some relation to me that doesn't imply identity: co-location, perhaps. My wife is not a bigamist, even though she is, I suppose, married to both me and this animal. At any rate would be seriously misleading to describe our relationship as a ménage à quatre. The animal and I are two, but "almost one" ("Lewis (David) - Survival and Identity", "Lewis (David) - Many, But Almost One"). This is meant to show that the Constitution View (or more generally the view that we aren't animals) needn't contradict the things we say and believe when engaged in the ordinary business of life about how many people there are. Unless we are doing metaphysics, we simply don't distinguish between strict numerical identity and the relation, whatever exactly it is, that each of us bears to a certain human animal. That, the idea goes, solves the overpopulation problem.
    8. The solution to the personhood problem is that not just any rational, self-conscious being is a person, but only those rational, self-conscious beings that have the right identity conditions. That is why human animals aren't people. The solution to the epistemic problem is based on the idea that personal pronouns like 'I' and related terms like 'Socrates' always refer to people. Thus, when the animal associated with you says 'I', it doesn't refer to itself. Rather, it refers to you, the person it constitutes. When it says 'I am a person' it isn't saying falsely that it is a person, but truly that you are. So the animal isn't mistaken about which thing it is, and neither are you. You can infer that you are a person from the linguistic facts that you are whatever you refer to when you say 'I', and that 'I' always refers to a person. You can know that you aren't an animal because people by definition have identity conditions different from those of animals. ("Noonan (Harold) - Personal Identity":75f., "Noonan (Harold) - Animalism Versus Lockeanism: A Current Controversy":316)
    9. This proposal faces difficulties that I can't go into here. In any case, it still leaves us with an uncomfortable surplus of thinking beings. No matter how we describe it, there are still far more numerically different thinking beings than we thought there were. What is more, it makes personhood a trivial property.
    10. Baker offers what she takes to be a third solution to the problem of the thinking animal, different from these. The animal that Baker calls your body has the same mental properties as you have. And it is a person. Moreover, you are an animal. How could you be an animal without having the properties of an animal, such as brute physical identity conditions? Because you are an animal only contingently, whereas you are a person essentially. You could stop being an animal and still exist, for instance by having all your parts replaced with inorganic ones. Why doesn't your body have the identity conditions of people? Because it (or he or she, I suppose we should say, since it is a person) is an animal essentially and a person only contingently. You have your identity conditions not by virtue of being a person, but by virtue of being a person essentially.
    11. So far this seems to be no help at all. It implies that there are two people sitting in your chair and reading this, you and your body. What is more, people come in two kinds: there are essential people, who have the identity conditions of people and are animals only accidentally (if at all), and accidental people, who are animals essentially and have the identity conditions of animals. And it seems to do nothing to explain how you could ever know which person you are, the essential person sitting in your chair or the accidental person.
    12. Baker's response is that you are a person, and your body is a person, and you are not identical; but that doesn't make two people. That is because you and your body don't have "separate existence". I suppose this is because you and your body are made of the same parts. But what does it mean? It sounds like Lewis's view: strictly speaking – counting by identity – there are two or more rational, self-conscious beings now sitting in your chair; but they are related in some intimate way that makes it correct to speak loosely as if they were one. As a solution to the overpopulation problem, this seems no better and no worse than Lewis's. And it provides no solution to the epistemic problem.
    13. But the story has another twist. You are a person and an animal in different senses, Baker says: you are an animal only derivatively, and a person non-derivatively. That means roughly that you are an animal only insofar as something that constitutes you is an animal in itself, independently of its constituting anything; but you are a person independently of anything's constituting you. Your body, on the other hand, is a person derivatively: it is a person only insofar as it constitutes a person. More generally, you have all of your physical properties derivatively: you "borrow" them from your body (68). (Surprisingly, Baker doesn't say that your body borrows all of its mental properties from you, but only those that require a first-person perspective. You borrow your other mental properties, such as feeling hungry and wanting food, from your body. This has presumably to do with the idea that animals are brutish. It implies, I think, that we are derivatively brutish, since the things that constitute us are non-derivatively brutish.)
    14. But rather than solving the problem, this seems only to muddy the waters. We wanted to know whether the animal that Baker calls your body can think in the first person. We are told that in one sense it can, and in another sense it can't. It can think in the first person insofar as it constitutes an essential person who can think in the first person; it can't think in the first person in dependently of its constituting anything. Well, insofar as your body can think in the first person, there are at least two numerically different beings – people, in fact--thinking your thoughts, even if they "aren't separate" or are "almost one". Isn't that extremely implausible? Insofar as your body can't think in the first person, Baker owes us an explanation of why, despite being physically indistinguishable from you with the same history and surroundings, it can't think in that way. No such explanation is provided. I don't see what has been gained.
    15. Let me say a few words about the epistemic problem: how do I know which of the two numerically different people who share my location I am? Baker can explain how I know that I am a person (196). To be a person, on her view, is to have the capacity to think first-person thoughts. Thus, any being that can wonder, “What am I13?” is a person. The question, “Am I a person?” is self-answering. However, on Baker's view there are two people thinking my thoughts – counting by identity, that is. There is an essential person and an accidental person. How do I know which person I am? How do I know whether I am a person essentially? At one point (196 fn.) Baker says that whatever thinks first-person thoughts non-derivatively is a person non-derivatively, and whatever thinks first-person thoughts derivatively is a person only derivatively (such a being would be the body of an essential person, or at any rate something that constitutes such a person). But how do I know whether I think in the first person derivatively or non-derivatively?
    16. Baker says there is only one first-person thought there (197). The first-person thought 'I am essentially a person' refers derivatively to an animal and non-derivatively to an essential person. But how does that help? If the animal (the essential animal, I mean) that thinks this thought thereby says that it is essentially a person, it is mistaken. Insofar as the animal thinks that one thought, the thought is false; insofar as the essential person thinks it, it is true. How can a single thought be both true and false? Or is it derivatively false and non-derivatively true? But that would mean that insofar as the animal's thought is true, it doesn't refer to the animal itself, but to the essential person the animal constitutes. That would make Baker's proposal just a complicated variant of Noonan's view.
    17. I simply don't understand what Baker's solution to this problem is supposed to be.
    18. There are many more things in Professor Baker's book that I didn't understand (her remarks about counting first-person perspectives in chapter 5, for instance). But I think I've already said more than enough. I hope she can help me see the light.




In-Page Footnotes ("Olson (Eric) - Thinking Animals and the Constitution View")

Footnote 7:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (14/07/2019 18:05:46).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 8:
  • Or will discuss!
  • This Note is currently work in progress.



"Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Reply to Garrett"

Source: Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, e-Symposium on "Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View"
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).


COMMENT:

Write-up3 (as at 14/07/2019 18:05:46): Baker - Persons and Bodies - Response to Garrett

  1. This Note is currently work in progress4, and sadly does not yet include any of my own work.
  2. It discusses a response to a review of submitted to an e-Symposium, convened in 2001, to review See Link; logged as a pseudo-book at
  3. I’ve included below the full text of Baker’s reply to Garrett, with (in due course) annotations as bullets below the numbered sections of Baker’s text. The numbering is indexed to Garrett’s paper. Not all of Garrett’s Sections received a comment from Baker:-


    Introduction
      I want to thank Brian Garrett for his careful and detailed comments on "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View". I’ll respond to as many of his comments as I can. (They make me look forward to reading his "Garrett (Brian) - Personal Identity and Self-consciousness".)
  1. Section 1
      I use the term ‘the Constitution View’ simply as a name of the view of human persons that I work out. I began by thinking about the relation between persons and bodies, and started with the idea of constitution-without-identity. In one way, I think that the idea of constitution is the more important of the two central ideas (the other of which is the idea of the first-person perspective), because the idea of constitution has general metaphysical application for understanding the whole material world. That’s how I came to call my view ‘the Constitution View.’ Granted, ‘the Constitution and First-Person Perspective View’ would be more descriptive, but ‘the Constitution View’ is snappier.
  2. Section 2
      I use Castañeda’s ‘*’ device to illustrate what I think is an important distinction—namely, that between consciousness (which infants and higher nonhuman animals have) and self-consciousness (which, as far as we know, is unique to human persons).
  3. Section 3
    1. Garrett mentions that I need not invoke the ‘*’ device since an I*-thought is just an iterated I-thought, and we could say that “being able to think iterated ‘I’-thoughts is the hallmark of self-consciousness.”
    2. Garrett notes that Castañeda made his point with ‘he*’, not ‘I*.’ Right, but I couldn’t illustrate the point that I want to make in terms of ‘he*’. Castañeda’s ‘he*’ is used to attribute a first-person reference. But a first-person reference, on my view, does not always manifest a first-person perspective. In ‘the dog believes that he* is about to be attacked,’ we are attributing to the dog a belief that (if he could speak) he would express as ‘I am about to be attacked.’ But this (pretend) speech would not indicate a first-person perspective. The dog is conscious, and thus has a perspective, the origin of which is always himself. For a dog, the (pretend) ‘I’ is just a default marker for the origin of his perspective. In a given context, we can often tell whether or not ‘he*’ attributes just a (pretend) first-person reference of a dog or a real first-person perspective. But since ‘he*’does not always doesn’t distinguish between attribution of a (pretend) first-person reference and a real first-person perspective, ‘he*’ would not serve my purposes in the way that ‘I*’ does.
    3. Perhaps, as Garrett suggests, we should not say that a dog is involved in any (even low-grade) first-person phenomena. I disagree, because all consciousness, it seems to me, is perspectival. (The bone is over here, not there.) The dog is the origin of the perspective. (The bone is over here, not there, and I want it.) But, lacking a first-person perspective, the dog does not know that it is only the center of a perspective, not the center of the universe. He can’t realize that there are other perspectives. The dog has a perspective (and thus engages in low-grade first-person phenomena); but the dog does not realize that he* has a perspective.
    4. Garrett thinks that having a perspective is not sufficient for attributing ‘I’-thoughts. Missiles may “have in-built maps with themselves as origin and can modify their speed and direction in sophisticated ways. But missiles don’t have ‘I’-thoughts.” Garrett challenges me to say how I treat missiles differently from animals and infants. Here’s how: infants and animals are conscious and the way that a conscious being “adjusts its behavior to fit its goals” is by inferences relying on essential indexicals. The analogue of reasoning and inferring for the missile presumably can be described without using indexicals at all. ((Pretend) use of ‘I’ attributed to a missile would be exactly like our use of ‘now’ in a Minkowski diagram.) But (pretend) use of ‘I’ attributed to animals or infants marks use of indexical thoughts; (pretend) use of ‘I’ is not (pretend) use of the full-fledged ‘I’ of a first-person perspective. Attribution of (pretend) use of ‘I’ to animals and infants just marks the center of a perspective from which the infant or animal has indexical thoughts.
  4. Section 4: No comment from Baker.
  5. Section 5
      Garrett notes that I “give some credence to the Russell-Geach view that first-person reference is eliminable from simple, direct-discourse ‘I’ sentences.” What I was thinking of was that for animals that have an egocentric perspective ‘I am in pain’ = ‘There is pain.’ This is really just the point that I was making before about beings that are conscious, but not self-conscious: They can’t conceive of the difference between attributing a property to themselves and attributing it to others. Hence, all pain is their pain, etc. I agree with Garrett that, in general, ‘I’ is ineliminable from even simple, direct-discourse sentences.
  6. Section 6
      I certainly share Garrett’s view that self-consciousness can’t be given a reductive analysis. Garrett says parenthetically, “I assume that in the present discussion we’re talking only of the concept of self-consciousness, not the property it’s a concept of. That property presumably is some kind of neural property (in us). It’s only the concept that irreducible.” I’m not sure (yet) how to respond to this, but I think that in the end, I will not share the view of the relation between concepts and properties that this suggests. (In "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Saving Belief: A Critique of Physicalism" and in "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - A Farewell to Functionalism" I argue against functionalism in philosophy of mind.)
  7. Section 7
      Garrett sees no advantage in my separation of a sameness-of-body criterion of personal identity from a sameness-of-living-organism criterion. But traditionally, these are distinct. Aristotle (and Aquinas) would accept the latter, but not the former. He also notes that I didn’t argue against his psychological view of personal identity, but my objection to any view that faces the duplication problem (and hence requires non-branching), I think, applies to his view as well.
  8. Section 8
      Garrett makes an interesting point about circularity: “A circular analysis can still be illuminating, provided it makes vivid the connections between the target concept and some other range of concepts.” Yes! Good point!
  9. Section 9
    1. Garrett criticizes my claim that we cannot give (noncircular) informative sufficient conditions for sameness of person over time without presupposing sameness of person.
    2. I meant “informative” in the sense of helping us understand sameness of person. If someone produced informative sufficient conditions in this sense, I’d be surprised....and I would be proved wrong.
    3. Garrett suggests: “If my brain, body, and psychological stream continue as normal, and there’s no duplication, fission, fusion, teletransportation, etc., then I will occupy this body tomorrow.” Whether I deny this or not depends on the ‘etc.’ Would the ‘etc.’ rule out Locke’s Prince and the Cobbler case? If not, then the Prince and the Cobbler case is a counterexample to the conditional. If so, then the ‘etc’ seems to function as an open-ended ceteris paribus clause that makes the account uninformative.
    4. Garrett also sees an epistemic problem here: “Even in a normal everyday case, how is a person supposed to know at t2 that he existed in the same body at t1?” I know that I exist in the same body (=am constituted by the same body) that I had yesterday, because it looks the same (warts and all). Also, had I been videotaped throughout the time between yesterday and today, no changes in my body would have been observed.
    5. I said: “Every morning when I wake up, I know that I am still existing – without consulting my mirror, my memory, or anything else.” Garrett responds: “But, given Baker’s no-constraints view of the first-person perspective, how can she tell?” My first-person perspective is essential to me. If there is any experience that I am aware of, then I (with my first-person perspective) exist. If I’m having an experience, there can be no question of whose first-person perspective is involved. (The only question that can arise is which body constitutes me at that time.)
    6. The question of how I know that my first-person perspective persisted through the night makes no sense on my view: If I have any experience at all—indeed, if I have any property at all—then I exist; and if I exist, I have a particular first-person perspective.
    7. Let me try to put it another way: Suppose that: (1) S wakes up and has an experience of being glad that she’s alive; (2) I know without evidence that someone is having an experience of being glad that she’s alive. Then it follows that (i) I exist (having my first-person perspective); (ii) I am identical to S.
    8. I think that there is much more to develop here, and I hope to turn to this kind of issue.
  10. Section 10: No comment from Baker.
  11. Section 11
    1. Re: Indeterminacy. Vagueness is a general problem, about which I have no good solution. All the solutions known to me—supervaluation, the epistemic view, degrees of truth, multi-valued logic—either fail to solve the problem or are patently absurd (to me, anyway).
    2. But I do think that it is a defect in a criterion of personal identity to admit of vagueness. (Maybe I read too much Chisholm.) I simply can’t imagine partly existing and partly not existing. I either exist or not. It’s only from a third-person point of view that vagueness seems possible. If there is a thought, then (pace Parfit) someone is having it. Whoever is having it has to exist.
  12. Section 12
    1. The point of condition (T)—a criterion of sameness of human person over time—is to show that even though I can’t give an informative criterion for identity of persons (embodied or not) over time, the fact that human persons are necessarily embodied (de re) does allow me to give an informative criterion for identity of human persons over time. Since the focus of the book is human persons, it seemed useful to show that I could give (noncircular) necessary and sufficient conditions for sameness of human persons over time, even if I couldn’t give (noncircular) necessary and sufficient conditions for sameness of persons generally over time.
    2. Human person is what I called a hybrid kind. Person is the dominant sortal. x at t1 is the same human person as y at t2 iff x is a person, y is a person, x is human at t1, y is human at t2 and x = y.
  13. Section 13
      (T6) is just essential embodiment of human persons. Garrett says: “[I]f immaterial substances are a logical possibility (as even many materialists think), then Baker should not be endorsing (T6).” I disagree. From my claim that human persons are essentially embodied, it does not follow that everything that exists is essentially embodied. Perhaps there are essentially unembodied beings.
  14. Section 14
    1. Garrett says that my conditions for taking persons seriously5 are idiosyncratic.
    2. I clearly specified the sense in which I am claiming that other materialistic views fail to take persons seriously6. Conditions for taking persons seriously7 (in the sense specified) are these: (1) Being a person is relevant to the fundamental kind of individual that one is; (2) Elimination of any person is elimination of an individual; (3) Having mental states is relevant to what a person is. These conditions do not seem idiosyncratic to me—of course, they wouldn’t.
    3. A lot of philosophers share Garrett’s view that my conditions on taking persons seriously8 are idiosyncratic. (But he is the first one I know of who suggests that this conception of taking persons seriously9 should be denounced!) I want to hold my ground. I have a paper10 read at the Chisholm Memorial Conference at Brown University, "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Ontological Status of Persons", forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. In it, I develop further and argue for this construal of taking persons seriously11.




In-Page Footnotes ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Reply to Garrett")

Footnote 3:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (14/07/2019 18:05:46).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 10: Baker had the title as “The Ontological Significance of Persons”.



"Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Reply to Noonan"

Source: Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, e-Symposium on "Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View"
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).


COMMENT:

Write-up3 (as at 17/04/2018 21:04:19): Baker - Persons and Bodies - Response to Noonan

  1. This Note is currently work in progress4, and sadly does not yet include any of my own work.
  2. It discusses a responseto a review of submitted to an e-Symposium, convened in 2001 to review see Link; logged as a pseudo-book at
  3. I’ve included below the full text, with (in due course) annotations as bullets below the numbered sections of Baker’s text:-


    Introduction
      I very much appreciate the sympathetic account that Noonan gives of (some of) my views – especially my case against Animalism. I also appreciate Noonan’s suggestion for replying to the Many Minds Objection.
  1. Section 1
    1. It is certainly true, as Noonan says, that I take persons to be ontologically different from animals. This is one of the most controversial aspects of my view. Persons necessarily have first-person perspectives, and these first-person perspectives provide the persistence conditions of persons. The persistence conditions of animals stem from the purely biological properties (like metabolism, circulation, and so on).
    2. Noonan agrees that the first-person perspective has “fundamental significance in our view of ourselves” and, I think, he recognizes a “gap between ourselves and non-human animals on which Baker insists,” but, he goes on, “the move to the claim that it has ontological significance is not compelling.” But I do not see that Noonan offers any real argument here. Granted, I have no demonstrative argument, but I do give a number of considerations in favor of my view. I have developed this theme further in "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Ontological Status of Persons", forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  2. Section 2
      My book tries to situate persons in a comprehensive nonreductive view of the material world. The idea of constitution-without-identity is a general idea, of which the idea of constitution of persons by bodies is a species. One of the novel features of my general view (and ipso facto of my view of persons) is a turn away from a traditional ontological assumption. Traditionally, philosophers have assumed that what something most fundamentally is depends on what it is made of. Underlying my view, by contrast, is a conviction that what something most fundamentally is often depends more on what it can do than what it is made of. I think that new technologies—e.g., replacing damaged body parts with inorganic parts, building micro-machines from organic matter—blur the lines between what is “natural” and what is artifactual. And this, in turn, suggests that the traditional view should be replaced. What something is made of is often not as revealing of its nature as what it can do. Hence, two entities with similar constitutions (say, you and a gorilla) are ontologically less similar than two persons with very different constitutions (say, you and a Martian person (if there were any)).
  3. Section 3
    1. Some philosophers reject the idea of constitution-without-identity in favor of contingent identity. To the example (from Lewis) of the dishpan and the piece of plastic, I have two replies. Before giving them, I must mention that on p. 22, I state three basic assumptions of the book. The first is materialism of the natural world. The second is that all identity is strict identity; if x and y differ in their modal properties, they are nonidentical. (p. 22) The third is three-dimensionalism. I do not consider temporal parts. I shall continue to assume three-dimensionalism here. (As I mention on p. 22, if you take issue with any of my three assumptions, then regard my book as a conditional argument that shows how much ground can be covered under the assumptions.) Now to the replies to the dishpan example:
    2. First, Noonan’s treatment of this example (like Lewis’s) depends on contingent identity, which I clearly reject on p. 22. [For an argument, see my "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Why Constitution is Not Identity": 599-621.]
    3. Second, if you take the dishpan and the piece of plastic that makes it up, where the dishpan and the piece of plastic begin and end at the same time, to be (contingently) identical, you have to give a different account of the relation between dishpan and the piece of plastic that makes it up when they do not begin and end at the same time. Suppose that both the dishpan and the piece of plastic come into existence at 9:00, and that the piece of plastic makes up the dishpan from 9:00 until noon. Case 1: At noon, a terrorist bomb blows the dishpan made of the piece of plastic to bits, and both piece of plastic and dishpan go out of existence. Case 2: At noon, the terrorist bomb merely blows a sizable hole in the dishpan, which at 1:00 is repaired by placing a new piece of plastic in the hole. From 9:00 until 12:00, the dishpan was made up of the piece of plastic.
    4. Now the advocate of contingent identity will say that the dishpan and the piece of plastic are identical in Case 1, but not in Case 2. So, the contingent-identity theorist will need two theories of the relation between the dishpan and the piece of plastic: one for Case 1 (contingent identity) and a separate one for Case 2. It seems to me clearly better to have a unified theory of the relation between the dishpan and the piece of plastic that covers both cases—as the constitution view does. According to the constitution view, the relation between the dishpan and the piece of plastic is the same in both Cases: constitution, not identity. (For more on the dishpan case, see Ch. 7.)
    5. I think that the idea of constitution-without-identity can accomplish what the idea of contingent identity is supposed to accomplish without introducing a kind of ersatz “identity” that falls short of genuine identity—strict, necessary, Leibnizian identity.
  4. Section 4
      By the way, I would not say that “no actual human person is identical with any actual human being.” As I said in Chapter 1, the term ‘human being’ has been used ambiguously (long before I came on the scene): both to name a partly psychological kind, and to name a purely biological kind. So, I try to avoid the term. When I use it, I usually mean ‘human person.’
  5. Section 5
      I started with the question, “What am I5?” The answer that I gave is that I am most fundamentally a person, and I am constituted by a human body. Only later did I consider the much-fought-over question of personal identity over time. (I found "Noonan (Harold) - Personal Identity" useful in thinking about this issue.) I can only agree with Noonan that I do not have a satisfactory account of personal identity over time; but neither, as I argued in Chapter 5, does anyone else. The reason, I think, is that personal identity over time cannot be analyzed in nonpersonal terms; hence, any account is circular. It is clear to me (but obviously not to everybody) that there is a fact of the matter about whether a particular person is I or not. I hope to pursue this topic further later on.




In-Page Footnotes ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Reply to Noonan")

Footnote 3:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (17/04/2018 21:04:19).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.



"Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Reply to Olson"

Source: Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, e-Symposium on "Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View"
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).


COMMENT:

Write-up3 (as at 17/04/2018 21:04:19): Baker - Persons and Bodies - Response to Olson

  1. This Note is currently work in progress4, and sadly does not yet include any of my own work.
  2. It discusses a responseto a review of submitted to an e-Symposium, convened in 2001 to review see Link; logged as a pseudo-book at
  3. I’ve included below the full text, with (in due course) annotations as bullets below the numbered sections of Baker’s text:-


  1. Section 1
    1. Olson seems to think that my view of persons rests on thought experiments about changing bodies. It does not. But the view rests on what I claim to be a difference in persistence conditions between persons and animals. Granted, Locke’s Prince/Cobbler case and Kafka’s “Metamorphosis5,” discussed briefly in Ch. 5 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Personal Identity Over Time"), illustrate the difference in persistence conditions; but reasons to accept the Constitution View come from considerations like these:
    2. (a) The Constitution View situates human persons in a comprehensive metaphysics of the material world. The material world is characterized by ontological diversity—by statues as well as by pieces of marble, by meteors as well as by molecules. Persons are part of the natural world—material beings--yet ontologically different from other things.
    3. (b) The Constitution View does justice to our uniqueness, as well as to what we have in common with animals. Animalism has nothing to say about our uniqueness.
  2. Section 2
      As I argued in Ch. 5 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Personal Identity Over Time"), I reject the psychological-continuity views of personal identity over time. My answer (such as it is) to the diachronic question of personal identity over time takes a back seat to my answer to the synchronic question of what makes something a person in the first place.
  3. Section 3
    1. “Animalism is not a contender.” One big difference between the Constitution View and Animalism is that on the Constitution View [nonderivative] persons are essentially persons.
    2. (a) Why, Olson asks, should we accept that? We have lots of essential properties that don’t determine our identity conditions, e.g., being such that the number 5 is odd. I argue that being a person (i.e., having a first-person perspective) determines our persistence conditions. Having first-person perspectives is what is distinctive of us; being such that the number 5 is odd is shared with all other entities.
    3. (Later on, Olson says that on my view, “you have your identity conditions not by virtue of being a person, but by virtue of being a person essentially.” This isn’t right. If x has its identity conditions by being an F, then x is an F essentially. Identity conditions depend on essential properties.)
    4. (b) I say that if persons were not essentially persons, then “every person could be eliminated without eliminating a single individual.” Olson professes to see an ambiguity in ‘eliminate.’ There is no ambiguity: If F is an essential property of [nonderivative] Fs, then to eliminate a [nonderivative] F is to bring it about that something ceases to exist altogether, not just that something ceases to be an F. (See Chapter 2 - "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Very Idea of Constitution".) This is a matter of definition. There is no ambiguity. So, it is simply false to say that “by ‘eliminating’ a person Baker means just causing her to stop being a person.” On my view, to stop being a person is to stop existing altogether. And it is obviously question-begging to criticize my view by assuming that persons are not essentially persons.
    5. (c) Yes, “students as such [have] no ontological significance.” But of course they have ontological significance as persons. On the Animalist view, students as such have no ontological significance either, and neither do persons. On the Animalist view, a person has ontological significance only as an animal, not as a person. On the Constitution View, a person has ontological significance in virtue of being a person. (See my forthcoming "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Ontological Status of Persons" in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.)
  4. Section 4
      To say “Animals are brutish” seems like a slur, and certainly one that I never made. I think that a first-person perspective makes an ontological difference in the world. I certainly agree that human animals and chimpanzees are genetically, physiologically, and psychologically similar. But the differences in the abilities of beings with first-person perspectives and of beings without first-person perspectives is so striking as to be an ontological difference. (One way that I differ from typical metaphysicians (and from Animalists) is that I think that in some cases what something most fundamentally is depends more on what it can do than what it is made of. See my reply to Noonan6.)
  5. Section 5
      The Corpse Problem. I think that an animal, whether it constitutes a person or not, still exists as a corpse. I think that the animal that constitutes me exists from implantation (about 2 weeks after conception) until disintegration. Part of that time it constitutes me. So, I am constituted by an animal that will be a corpse (presumably), but I am not identical to that animal. So, the Constitution View faces no corpse problem that is analogous to the one faced by Animalism (on Olson’s interpretation).
  6. Section 6
    1. A human person comes into existence when a human organism develops to the point that its brain can support!a first-person perspective. To have a first-person perspective is not a matter of having a brain in a certain state. To have a first-person perspective is to have a conceptual ability; to exercise a first-person perspective is to exercise a conceptual ability. This conceptual ability is the ability to think of (conceive of) oneself as oneself. And it is an ability had by a person, not by a brain. A sufficiently developed brain is a materially necessary condition for having this ability.
    2. Of course animals think. Dogs think. Dogs are animals. Therefore, animals think. (But animals cannot think the same kinds of thoughts that we can. Animals can’t wonder how they’re going to die.)
    3. Much of what Olson says is caricature. For example, I carefully distinguish between having a property derivatively and having a property nonderivatively. I say that constitution is so close to identity that my body is a person derivatively in virtue of constituting me. (For elaborate detail, see Chapter 2.) Without mentioning the distinction, Olson says: “But if the animal is a person, then people come in two kinds: animal people, who are identical with animals and have the identity conditions of animals; and people constituted by but not identical with animals....” Not at all. To have a property F derivatively is not be to a different kind of F. It is to be an F in virtue of constitution relations to something that is an F independently.

    Section 7
    1. Assorted charges of overpopulation: In my book, I dealt with these as clearly as I could—i.e., by setting out valid arguments in Chapters 6 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Importance Of Being a Person") and 7 ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Coherence Of the Idea of Material Constitution"). Olson does not mention any of these arguments.
    2. Charging that my view has various absurd consequences, Olson assumes throughout that if x and y are non-numerically-identical, then x and y are “two things,” and if x is an F and y is an F and x and y are non-numerically-identical, then there are two Fs. His strategy is: Infer from nonidentity of x and y, where x constitutes y, to “two things” or two Fs, then point out the absurdity of supposing that there are “two things” or two Fs in the circumstances. However, as I’ll show, where constitution is at issue, the inference from nonidentity to “two things” or two Fs is always question-begging.
    3. First, note that what’s at issue here is not “numerical identity” in the sense of strict, Leibnizian identity; what’s at issue is rather ‘non-numerical-identity.’ Olson assumes that there is only one variety of nonidentity; my view holds that there are two varieties of nonidentity: constitution and separate existence. Since constitution has an intermediate position between identity and separate existence, what is true of nonidentity in cases of separate existence may not be true of nonidentity cases of constitution.
    4. I have gone to great lengths to show that “nonidentity” subsumes two different relations: If x and y are nonidentical at t, then either x and y are constitutionally related at t, or x and y have separate existence at t (where x and y have separate existence at t iff there is no F such that x and y are the same F at t). Where there is nonidentity in the sense of separate existence, then there are “two things” or two Fs (if Fs are in question) there. Where there is nonidentity in the sense of constitution, then there are not “two things” or two Fs there. Since that is my view, it begs the question to infer from non-numerical-identity to “two things” or two Fs.
    5. Moreover, there is another problem with the “two things” idea: Olson insists on counting things as things. (He might say ‘numerically-identical things.’) I think that this is incoherent. The question, “How many things are there in this room (not to mention in the universe)?” makes no sense. How many pencils, yes; how many persons, yes; how many animals, yes, how many things, no. This is not a “linguistic trick,” but would be agreed to by philosophers from Aristotle to Putnam.
    6. Here are a couple of examples of Olson’s illicit inference from nonidentity of Fs to two Fs:
    7. (a) Olson takes as a premise in an argument against me that if x is a person and y is a person and x and y are not “numerically identical,” then there are two persons. This cannot be a premise in a non-question-begging argument since it is just a denial of one of my premises (see (P1) on p. 173 of "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Coherence Of the Idea of Material Constitution").
    8. (b) Without the question-begging assumption that if x is an F and y is an F and x and y are non-numerically-identical, then there are two Fs, Olson cannot even raise the question, “How do I know which of the two numerically different people who share my location I am?” This question – as well as his final question about two thinkers of the same thought and the facetious “Are you the animal philosopher or the person philosopher?” – simply ignores my discussion of ‘the same F’ (p. 174 of "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Coherence Of the Idea of Material Constitution"), and my answers to similar objections by Snowdon (pp. 198-202 of "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Coherence Of the Constitution View of Human Persons").
    9. All of Olson’s objections that my view entails too many thinkers, philosophers, thoughts, etc. rest on a tendentious use of ‘non-numerical-identity.’ In light of the fact that I have gone to considerable lengths to make clear what constitution is, objections cannot legitimately lump together the two kinds of non-numerical-identity that I have carefully distinguished, and then charge me with absurd conclusions.




In-Page Footnotes ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Reply to Olson")

Footnote 3:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (17/04/2018 21:04:19).
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