Amazon Book Description
- What are we1? What is the nature of the human person? Animalism2 has a straightforward answer to these long-standing philosophical questions: we are animals. After being ignored for a long time in philosophical discussions of our nature, this idea has recently gained considerable support in metaphysics and philosophy of mind. It has also, amongst philosophers, occasioned strong opposition, even though it might be said to be the view assumed by much of the scientific community. Essays on Animalism3 is the first volume to be devoted to this important topic and promises to set the agenda for the next stage in the debate.
- Containing mainly new papers as well as two highly important articles that were recently published elsewhere, this volume's contributors include both emerging voices in the debate and many of those who have been instrumental in shaping it. Some of their contributions defend animalism4, others criticize it, still others explore its more general implications. The book also contains a substantial introduction by the editors explaining what animalism5 is, identifying leading issues that merit attention, and highlighting many of the issues that the contributors have raised.
Back Cover Blurb
- A team of experts presents a selection of original essays on animalism6: the view that we are animals.
- After being ignored for a long time in philosophical discussions of our nature, this idea has recently gained considerable support in metaphysics and philosophy of mind. It has also, amongst philosophers, occasioned strong opposition, even though it might be said to be the view assumed by much of the scientific community.
- Animalism7 is the first volume to be devoted to this important topic and promises to set the agenda for the next stage in the debate. Containing mainly new papers as well as two highly important articles that were recently published elsewhere, this volume's contributors include both emerging voices in the debate and many of those who have been instrumental in shaping it.
- Some of their contributions defend animalism8, others criticise it, still others explore its more general implications.
- The book also contains a substantial introduction by the editors explaining what animalism9 is, identifying leading issues that merit attention, and highlighting many of the issues that the contributors have raised.
"Moran (Alexander P.) - Review - 'Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity', by Stephan Blatti and Paul Snowdon"
Source: Philosophy in Review, 37 (3): 94-96 (2017)
Author’s Introduction & Conclusion
- This volume is the first of its kind: a collection of articles focusing specifically on the Animalist theory of personal identity. This view has gained prominence in recent years, having been previously neglected by personal identity theorists, so it is refreshing to finally see a collection wherein Animalism is the main focus. Animalism may not be true — it is too early in the day to say — but it is well worthy of serious discussion. What the essays in this collection do so well is prove just how fruitful serious discussion of Animalism can be.
- The aim of the volume is not to convince readers of the truth of Animalism. Instead, its aim is to draw out the central issues and debates, and move the conversation forward. This is precisely what the volume achieves. It is essential reading for anyone working on personal identity, and should be read by anyone interested in the fundamental question as to what kind of thing we human persons are.
- Animalism has fifteen chapters, including a helpful introduction by the editors. These are organised into three main parts. Most of the articles have not been published before, having been written especially for the collection. (The only exceptions are the papers by Derek Parfit and by Tim Campbell & Jeff McMahan.) Each article makes an important contribution to the literature, and deserves to be read with care.
- Animalism is a superb collection, packed full of excellent chapters. To anyone interested in Animalism and related topics, this book could not be more highly recommended.
For the full text, follow this link (Local website only): PDF File1.
"Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Chapter 1, pp. 1-30
- The purpose of this collection is to gather together a group of chapters that are inspired by three central questions: What is animalism1? What implications does it have? Is animalism2 true? The aim is to push the debate about these questions forward. Most of the chapters are new. The two that are not — those by Parfit and by Campbell and McMahan3 — are recent and highly important essays that raise fundamental questions about animalism4, and we feel they deserve a place in this collection. We also wanted to collect together good work from different intellectual centres around the world, in North America, the UK, and Australasia, but also work from philosophers of different ages and at different stages. Some chapters represent forceful and novel presentations of relatively well-known viewpoints, whereas others move the debate along totally new directions. No view is dominant, and different chapters focus on different aspects of the debate. We, the editors, are both animalists5 (which is not to say that we are animalists6 of precisely the same kind), but our main hope with this collection is that it will stimulate new discussion, not that we shall make converts to our own view. It takes time for debates in philosophy to deepen and to sort the wheat from the chaff, but we hope this collection will help those things to happen in the next stage of debate about animalism7.
- In this introduction we shall sketch the background to the current debates and try to relate the chapters here to that background. It is impossible for us to pick out every issue or argument in all the chapters that we regard as important. All we can do is to highlight some of them. As with all philosophical subjects, properly sorting out the issues is a task for those who wish to think about them.
- One way to think of animalism8 is as a view about the relation between us, persons, and animals. According to it we are identical with some animals. We can, then, regard the background question as — what is our relation to animals? It is interesting to note that this general question has risen to prominence not only in the analytic philosophical tradition, but also in the continental tradition (e.g. in the work of Derrida) and in various areas of interdisciplinary inquiry (e.g. animal studies). The issues discussed here, then, provide one example of intellectual convergence between multiple philosophical traditions and areas of investigation.
- Recent History
- Objections to Animalism10
- Animalism11 and Personal Identity
- Issues and Motivations
For the full text, follow this link (Local website only): PDF File13.
In-Page Footnotes ("Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction")
Footnote 3: Ie:- Footnote 12:
- This is a detailed review of the other Chapters of the book.
- I have extracted these and used them as part of the Abstracts of the Chapters.
"Parfit (Derek) - We Are Not Human Beings"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part I, Chapter 2, pp. 31-49
- We can start with some science fiction. Here on Earth, I enter the Teletransporter. When I press some button, a machine destroys my body, while recording the exact states of all my cells. This information is sent by radio to Mars, where another machine makes, out of organic materials, a perfect copy of my body. The person who wakes up on Mars seems to remember living my life up to the moment when I pressed the button, and is in every other way just like me.
- Of those who have thought about such cases, some believe that it would be I who would wake up on Mars. They regard Teletransportation1 as merely the fastest way of travelling. Others believe that, if I chose to be Teletransported, I would be making a terrible mistake. On their view, the person who wakes up would be a mere Replica of me.
- This disagreement is about personal identity. To describe such disagreements, we can first distinguish two kinds of sameness. Two black billiard balls may be qualitatively identical, or exactly similar. But they are not numerically identical, or one and the same ball. If I paint one of these balls red, it will cease to be qualitatively identical with itself as it was; but it will still be one and the same ball. Consider next a claim like, ‘Since her accident, she is no longer the same person’. This claim involves both senses of identity, since it means that she, one and the same person, is not now the same person. That is not a contradiction, since it means that this person’s character has changed. This numerically identical person is now qualitatively different.
- When people discuss personal identity, they are often discussing what kind of person someone is, or wants to be. That is the question involved, for example, in an identity crisis. But I shall be discussing our numerical identity2. In our concern about our own futures, that is what we have in mind. I may believe that, after my marriage, I shall be a different person. But that does not make marriage death. However much I change, I shall still be alive if there will be someone living who will be me. And in my imagined case of Teletransportation3, my Replica on Mars would be qualitatively identical to me; but, on the sceptic’s view, he wouldn’t be me. I shall have ceased to exist. That, we naturally assume, is what matters4.
- In questions about numerical identity5, we use two names or descriptions, and we ask whether these refer to the same person. In most cases, we use descriptions that refer to people at different times. Thus, when using the telephone, we might ask whether the person to whom we are speaking now is the same as the person to whom we spoke yesterday. To answer such questions, we must know the criterion of personal identity over time, by which I mean: the relation between a person at one time, and a person at another time, which makes these one and the same person. We can also ask what kind of entity we are, since entities of different kinds continue to exist in different ways.
- Views about what we are6, and how we might continue to exist, can be placed, roughly, in three main groups.
- On some views, what we are7, or have as an essential part, is a soul: an immaterial persisting entity, which is indivisible, and whose continued existence must be all-or-nothing. Even if we don’t believe in immaterial souls, many of us have some beliefs about ourselves, and personal identity, that would be justified only if some such view were true. Though such views make sense, and might have been true, I shall not discuss them today, since we have strong evidence that no such view is true.
- Of the other views, some can be called Lockean. …
- The other main kind of view appeals not to psychological but to biological continuity, and is now often called Animalist8.
- In considering this disagreement, I shall first describe some Animalist9 objections to the various Lockean views that were put forward, in the nineteen sixties, seventies, and eighties, by such people as Shoemaker, Quinton, Perry, Lewis, and me. As Snowdon, Olson, and other Animalists10 pointed out, we Lockeans said nothing about the human beings – or to use a less ambiguous phrase, the human animals11 – that many of us think we are.
- In Chapter 2, Derek Parfit13 provides an important contribution in presenting his current thinking on animalism14, Lockeanism, and the fundamental nature of human persons. Parfit15 observes that the whole human animal16 thinks only derivatively, i.e. only in virtue of having a proper part that is directly engaged in thinking. The part of the animal that thinks nonderivatively is not the head, since the head thinks only in virtue of having a thinking brain as a part. Nor is the animal’s brain a nonderivative thinker, since it thinks only in virtue of including a thinking cerebrum17. And while Parfit18 never tells us precisely what thing it is that thinks nonderivatively, ultimately there must be a smallest proper part of a human animal19 that does so: the cerebrum20 itself maybe, or perhaps some still smaller part. And whatever brain part it is that nonderivatively satisfies Locke's definition of a person ('a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider it self as itself, the same thinking thing in different times and places'), this thing, Parfit21 says, is what we are22. He calls this the 'embodied person view' because this proper part of your animal is a person and this embodied person is you.
- Parfit23's extended argument for this position consists in demonstrating its utility. For example, this view preserves our intuition about transplant24 cases; when the part of your brain that thinks nonderivatively is removed from one animal body and implanted into another animal body, you (i.e. the person you are) are thus relocated. The embodied person view can also answer various challenges that the animalist25 has put to the Lockean. For example, the too many thinkers26 objection makes the point that the Lockean distinction between persons and animals carries the absurd implication that every thought is had by two thinkers: the person and the animal. But the Lockean who affirms the embodied person view has the resources to avoid this problem: unlike the person who thinks nonderivatively, the animal thinks only by having a part that does. Furthermore, Parfit27 presents his view as 'an obvious solution' to the thinking parts objection to animalism28. For each human animal29, there is only one thing — one small part of the animal's brain — that is nonderivatively a Lockean person. To the extent that proper parts of the animal are thinking parts, they are not thinkers in the most important sense. As a result, you can know that you are not an animal because you are whatever thing it is that thinks nonderivatively, and that thing — that person — is not an animal.
- Parfit30's embodied person view is innovative and represents an important contribution both to the debate over personal identity generally and to the discussion of animalism31 specifically. Indeed, it is for this reason that we wanted to include this essay in the volume, despite its having appeared in print previously. Nevertheless, the embodied person view relies on some distinctions that will require further scrutiny.
- One such distinction is the derivative-nonderivative distinction itself. It is unclear, for instance, precisely what conditions a thing must satisfy in order to qualify as being directly involved in thinking. In the absence of this precissification, animalists32 may suspect that any plausible candidate for being a nonderivative thinker will include as a proper part something that is not directly involved in thinking.
- The embodied person view also relies on a distinction between two usages of the first-person pronoun. In defending his view against an important objection, Parfit33 distinguishes the 'Inner-I' used to refer to the Lockean person and the 'Outer-I' used to refer to the human animal34. Parfit35 is certainly not the first Lockean to draw this distinction;
→ "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View" (2000),
→ "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Metaphysics of Everyday Life: An Essay in Practical Realism" (2007),
→ "Noonan (Harold) - Animalism Versus Lockeanism: A Current Controversy" (1998),
→ "Noonan (Harold) - Animalism versus Lockeanism: Reply to Mackie" (2001),
→ Strawson, Galen – Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics (OUP, 2009),
and others have done so as well. But nor is it a distinction that has escaped controversy36.
For the full text, follow this link (Local website only): PDF File37.
In-Page Footnotes ("Parfit (Derek) - We Are Not Human Beings")
Footnote 12: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
Footnote 36: For discussion, see My Note: See "Noonan (Harold) - The Thinking Animal Problem and Personal Pronoun Revisionism", 2010.
"Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Animalism vs. Constitutionalism"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part I, Chapter 3, pp. 50-63
- Animalism1 and Constitutionalism are rival answers to metaphysical questions:
- Animalism5 is the metaphysical thesis that "each of us is numerically identical with an animal: there is a certain organism, and you and it are one and the same"(0lson 2007: 246). Or to put it slightly differently, "[w]e are identical with, are one and the same thing as, certain (human) animals" ("Snowdon (Paul) - Persons, Animals, and Bodies", 1990: 71). An Animalist7, then, endorses propositions expressed by sentences of the form:
→ "I am identical to an organism,"
→ "You are identical to an organism,"
→ "Obama is identical to an organism,"
and so on. According to Animalism8, our persistence conditions9 are third-personal.
- Constitutionalism is the metaphysical thesis that each of us is identical to a person, who is initially constituted by (but not identical to) an animal and who has a first-person perspective10 essentially (Baker 2007a). According to Constitutionalism (at least my version of it), our persistence conditions11 are first-personal.
- The fact that Animalism12 and Constitutionalism are metaphysical theses has certain consequences.
- For Animalism13: If, metaphysically speaking, you are identical to a certain organism — call it "O"—then
- There is no time at which you exist and O fails to exist;
- There is no time at which O exists and you fail to exist;
- There is no time at which you have a property — modal14, indexical, whatever — and O fails to have it then;
- There is no time at which O has a property and you fail to have it then15.
- For Constitutionalism: If, metaphysically speaking, you are identical to a certain person — call it "P" — then
→ (i') There is no time at which you exist and P fails to exist;
→ (ii') There is no time at which P exists and you fail to exist;
→ (iii') There is no time at which you have a property — modally16, indexically, whatever — and P fails to have it then;
→ (iv') There is no time at which P has a property and you fail to have it then.
- It further follows from the fact that Animalism17 is a metaphysical thesis that
Finally, if Animalism20 is true, then
- Our persistence conditions18 are the persistence conditions19 of animals — third- personal conditions.
- "Any of us could exist at a time without having any mental properties at that time, or even the capacity to acquire them" (Olson 2007:44, emphasis mine).
- And it further follows from the fact that Constitutionalism is a metaphysical thesis that
→ (v') Our persistence conditions21 are the persistence conditions22 of persons — first-personal conditions.
Finally, if Constitutionalism is true, then
→ (vi') None of us "could exist at a time without having any mental properties at that time, or even the capacity to acquire them."
- I shall assume that Animalism23 is the metaphysical thesis expressed by "you are identical to an animal," and that Constitutionalism is the metaphysical thesis expressed by "you are identical to a person." Each thesis is elucidated, respectively, by (i)-(vi) and by (i')-(vi').
- After briefly sketching my theory of persons, I shall present a series of arguments for Animalism24, and show how Constitutionalism can deal with them; then I shall present two arguments for Constitutionalism, and defend them. The upshot, I hope, will be that on a number of fronts. Constitutionalism is superior to Animalism25 as the ontology for human beings.
- A Constitution View26 of Persons: A Brief Sketch
- Animalist27 Arguments against Constitutionalism and their Rebuttal
- Arguments for Constitutionalism and Their Defense
- In Chapter 3, Lynne Rudder Baker usefully and carefully presents her distinctive and well-known view of the relation between persons and animals, which is anti-animalist, and which holds that, in standard conditions, the animal constitutes, but is not identical with, the person.
- She sketches her distinctive elucidation of the constitution relation and its links with predication and truth conditions. She then employs these ideas to try to rebut the core pro-animalist29 arguments, and finally she adds two new reasons to favour her approach.
- Her response to the pro-animalist30 arguments raises the question why we should operate with the logic that she sketches. This is a question that has already received considerable attention, and the conduct of that debate will benefit from her clear and concise presentation.
- With her novel anti-animalist arguments one rests on the conviction that it is possible to preserve a person while totally replacing the constituting organic matter by inorganic matter, hence removing the animal while preserving the person, and one crucial question is why we should concede that is possible.
- This question has, at least, two sides.
- Can we be confident that a non-organic construct can sustain mentality?
- The other issue is whether we are entitled to be confident that if such an entity is possible it should count as being the person.
- The other argument rests on the conviction that persons will survive bodily death, a central religious conviction in the Christian tradition, but not something all of us are inclined to think. The argument also relies on the principle that if something is in fact to exist eternally it must be incorruptible. It might seem to those on the outside of the religious debate that God’s supposed omnipotence might unlock this problem. However, this interesting argument illustrates the way in which debate about animalism31 can be, and has been, broadened by its links to theological considerations.
In-Page Footnotes ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Animalism vs. Constitutionalism")
Footnote 2: Ie. "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? The Question".
Footnote 4: Ie. "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Beginning in the middle".
Footnote 6: Ie. "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Animals".
Footnote 15: I am making certain assumptions that I have argued for elsewhere:
Footnote 28: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
- Some properties may be had essentially ("Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Why Constitution is Not Identity", 1997);
- Certain entities (like you and organisms) exist at some times and not at other times (Baker 2007a: 228-31 [ie. "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Five Ontological Issues"]);
- Some entities have properties at some times and not at other times (Baker 2007a: 166-9 [ie. "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Constitution Revisited"]).
"Robinson (Denis) - Constitution and the Debate between Animalism and Psychological Views"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part I, Chapter 4, pp. 64-88
- We begin with a section discussing Animalism1's claim to be naturally favoured, by common sense, over Psychological views2. This provides an opportunity also to introduce the idea of the need for Psychological views3 to believe in some sort of relation of coincidence or "constitution" between distinct material entities, and some attendant prima facie difficulties.
- The following sections further discuss constitution relations, specially a generic and minimalist version, and related issues in the ontology of material entities. A naturalistic physicalism is presupposed, setting aside both supernaturalist and Substance Dualist views, while aiming to limit essential appeal to ontological assumptions which go beyond those reasonably attributable to common sense.
- Animalism’s4 Distinctive Status, and the Prima Facie Acceptability of Psychological Views5
- Examples of M-Constitution
- Kinds, Sortals6, Substances, and Materialist Ontology
- In Chapter 4, Denis Robinson's ambitious aim is to persuade us that what he calls psychological views8 of our fundamental nature fit well within what we might call a plausible metaphysics of the natural world. In particular, Robinson aims to counter the claim, promoted by Michael R. Ayers and Eric Olson, that it is a difficulty for non-animalist accounts if they employ the notion of constitution. He starts by engaging with the thought that animalism9 is more commonsensical than the psychological alternative. Robinson holds that the psychological view10 implies that entities of different types can coincide, but he suggests that this possibility is one that is not repugnant to common sense, since it seems to be an implication of standardly recognized cases in which we start with something, A, and things happen to A resulting in the emergence of a new thing, B, without A ceasing to exist, so that A and another thing B end up coinciding. In such cases there is often a sense in which B emerges gradually, which fits the way in which, supposedly, the human animal11 develops into a person. The psychological theorist should take 'person' as a substance concept, and, it is argued, the popularity of responses to thought-experiments12 that favour the psychological account should be granted as evidence that we do indeed operate with such a concept.
- Setting aside worries specifically about employing the notion of constitution in the theory of persons, Robinson investigates the general notion, or notions, of constitution. One notion is that of 'minimal constitution' (or 'm-constitution') which applies when two items are constituted at a time by the same material elements. This is contrasted with a more limited notion of constitution linked to the employment of the term by Baker. Robinsons aim is to develop an account of m-constitution, which though not specifically tied to four-dimensionalism, can easily accommodate it. He develops his account by giving a series of suggested examples of m-constitution. For the purpose of this summary, the first example will have to suffice. Robinson has a normal car, from which the doors are removed. Cars without doors can be regarded as a new type of thing called a pre-car, suitable for beach driving. This pre-car has never had doors, but Robinson’s old car — which is still there without its doors — did have doors, so the pre-car and the old car are not identical but they are composed of the same matter. In the next section, however, Robinson expands his account to cover what are the important cases of substances in the debate about personal identity, namely substances which are dynamic, constantly evolving and changing their matter (e.g. human animals13 and perhaps persons). In setting up his account, he also prepares an answer to the query, posed by Olson, as to how there can be different substances with different modal14 properties composed of the same matter at the same place and time. It is remarked that the categories we employ in describing the world involve lots of ones which merely approximate to full substance concepts, but nonetheless there are good examples of substance concepts. In developing his account of substances of this sort, Robinson alludes to the way of speaking (endorsed by Wiggins, for example) which links substance concepts to principles of activity as insightful, but he tries to make it more precise by bringing in the fundamental notion of immanent causation15, operating at different levels. The idea of coincident substances simply represents the idea that two substances constituting processes can happen to converge at a time so that the material base sustaining the appropriate processes are grounded in the same material base. This, it is claimed, does not generate any puzzles.
- Robinson ends by acknowledging that there are many uncovered complexities here, some to do with the way that 'person' might be a psychological substance concept, but he suggests that, despite the strong link between human animals16 and persons of our kind, there can be room for individual human persons to leave behind their animal origins.
- Robinson’s highly metaphysical and original analysis can, perhaps, be examined at two levels.
- The first is whether the metaphysical nature of substance concepts and puzzles about them have been properly resolved.
- The second is whether he has located solid evidence that in discussions about our nature and persistence conditions17 we need to regard 'person' as a separate substance concept.
In-Page Footnotes ("Robinson (Denis) - Constitution and the Debate between Animalism and Psychological Views")
Footnote 7: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
"Johnston (Mark) - Remnant Persons: Animalism's Undoing"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part I, Chapter 5, pp. 89-127
- My topic is animalism1, understood not as the relatively uncontroversial doctrine that we are animals — as opposed say to plants, angels, or separable immaterial souls — but rather as the stronger and more interesting doctrine that we are always animals, and that no one of us can cease to be animals without thereby ceasing to be. More exactly, animalism2 is, or is at least committed to, the following thesis;
Animal is one of our substance kinds, i.e. every human person is always in fact an animal, and there is no possible future deviating from any point in his or her existence in which they are not animals3. This is the view that, if not precisely endorsed by "Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance" (1980), is strongly encouraged by a close reading of that important book; and it was the view defended my Particulars and Persistence4 (1984).
- The latter work was rightly confined to oblivion by its author in part because there was a sound argument that shows that even if we are presently animals, we can, nonetheless, cease to be animals without thereby ceasing to be. This is the argument from "remnant persons": in short, if we suppose that we cannot cease to be animals without thereby ceasing to be, then we are saddled with a repugnant consequence, namely that there are very strange ways for persons to come into existence; specifically, simply as the result of the removal of non-neural tissue.
- Initially, animalism5 should be taken very seriously as an account of our conditions of identity over time, for at least two reasons.
- For one thing, there is considerable evidence that we are not (even in part) separable immaterial souls, and so the supposed entity that led many to think that we are either distinct from animals or very, very distinctive animals is not, so the evidence suggests, actually there.
- For another, the fact that reliance on the method of appealing to intuitions about imaginary cases
This is because the ideology behind the method of cases is deeply problematic, as is shown by a variety of considerations, only some of which will be canvassed here.
- Delivers the result that we go where our brain goes in a case of brain transplantation6 and
- Favors to some degree the result that we would survive teletransportation7 and the like, should not really worry the friends of animalism8, despite the fact that these "intuitions" are at odds with the central claim of animalism9, namely that we could not cease to be animals without ceasing to be.
- How Could There Be Such a Topic “Personal Identity”?
- The Method of Cases and the Evidential Status of the Imagination
- Some New Worries About the Method of Cases
- The Alternative Method
- Animalism10 as the Point of Departure
- Is Homo sapiens a Substance Kind?
- Animalism11 and Brain Transplants12
- An Argument for Animalism13?
- Remnant Persons
- The Gruesome Illustration
- A Way Out?
- Olson’s Reply to the Remnant Person Problem
- A Problem for Everyone?
- Against the “Bodily Criterion”
- An Austere Alternative
- Are Severed Heads, Brains, and Cerebrums14 all Human Animals15 or Human Organisms?
- The Proof Set Out
- How Does the Proof Go in the Case of Dogs and Frogs?
- Where are We?
- In Chapter 5, Mark Johnston provides an extremely rich and multifaceted evaluation of animalism17, leading to the conclusion that it is false. This conclusion Johnston regards as the point at which we need to begin the interesting task of saying what we really are, but that is, sadly, a task that he does not attempt in this chapter. The shape of the overall negative argument is familiar from some of his earlier attempts to face up to the problem of personal identity, but the present chapter develops the argument in novel, wide-ranging, and powerful ways, which this summary is barely able to indicate.
- Johnston’s discussion starts by fixing the target — animalism18 — as requiring not simply that we are animals, but that we cannot cease to be animals. As he puts it, this latter requirement can be expressed by saying that animalism19 requires that the kind 'animal' is a substance kind. Johnston begins with the important question; How can we determine whether animalism20 is true? One candidate method is what Johnston calls 'the method of cases', which is really the method of testing proposed accounts by whether they fit our intuitions about various imagined scenarios. This is taken to be the method of old-fashioned conceptual analysis. Standardly this method is taken to work against animalism21, given the normal intuitive verdict on brain transplants22 (and other cases). In the section 'Some New Worries About the Method of Cases', Johnston opposes this method in the present case.
This section of argument raises the issue of whether either line of thought does discredit reliance on the method of cases. If Johnston is right then some dialectical benefit accrues to animalism23 since this method usually is taken to supply counterarguments to animalism24. In Johnston's view, though, this relief is merely temporary.
- One new argument is that whether dualism is true is an empirical question, so we cannot settle what our basic nature is by an a priori method of cases.
- A second new argument is that the best model for the way we apply general concepts is that we rely on 'generic' connexions, which are not exceptionless principles, so our conceptual resources, on which the method of cases relies, does not contain data to determine verdicts about the type of cases that philosophers imagine.
- Johnston suggests a new method. At a general level it is to use 'all relevant knowledge and argumentative ingenuity'. With that there could be no quarrel. But at a more specific level Johnston stresses that the kind of thing that we are must be a kind that our ordinary methods of tracing do actually trace. He proposes that his idea initially indicates that we are animals. A significant question is whether there is even this initial link.
- The crucial question, though, is whether the type animal is a substance type. After discussing whether 'homo sapiens' is a substance type, and arguing that it is not, Johnston focuses on the central question about 'animal'. Johnston makes two initial points.
- The first is that ordinary brain transplant25 arguments, pioneered by Shoemaker, do not settle this question, being examples of the discredited method of cases.
- The second is that the well-known too-many-thinkers26 argument for animalism27 merely shows that we are animals and not that animal is a substance kind. It does not, therefore, support animalism28.
- This second critical conclusion is correct. The too-many-thinkers29 argument does not show that animal is a substance kind. However, it is well worth asking
- Whether it remains a significant argument since not everyone, unlike Johnston, does think we are animals; and
- Whether in the original context (and perhaps the abiding context) in which it was proposed the idea that animal is a substance type was more or less taken for granted, in which case it would take us all the way to animalism30.
- In the rest of the chapter Johnston argues that some fundamental principles about the creation and destruction of persons means that animal is not a substance notion. These principles force us to describe certain cases as ones in which a person who was an animal remains in existence but ceases to be an animal. One of the principles is called No Creation and it says: you do not cause a person to come into being by removing tissue, unless that tissue is suppressing the capacity for reflective mental life. Johnston claims that if this is correct then cases like brain transplants31 on standard assumptions about the role of the brain in the generation of consciousness and reflection will be examples which merit the above verdict. Johnston himself proposes the gruesome example of a guillotine that chops off heads but also crushes and eviscerates the rest of the body. It should be pointed out that "Madden (Rory) - Thinking Parts" (Chapter 9) contains a response to this type of argument, and a crucial question is whether that reply seems strong.
- In the rest of the chapter Johnston considers and rejects different responses to this problem proposed by Peter Van Inwagen and by Eric Olson, and also the proposal that such severed heads can count as animals. This part of the discussion is interesting and forceful, and each significant claim deserves scrutiny. Johnston leaves us at this point, longing to know what he thinks we are, which, of course, he is entitled to in a volume focussed on animalism32.
In-Page Footnotes ("Johnston (Mark) - Remnant Persons: Animalism's Undoing")
- Compare Paul Snowdon "I shall simply stipulate that it [animalism] involves two claims. The first is that we are identical with certain animals. But it is also a part of the view that our persistence conditions are those of animals, animals being regarded as one fundamental kind of thing. So the second claim, which I shall treat as at least partly elucidatory of this thought, is that anything which is an animal must be an animal, and the self - same animal, at all the times it exists. Given that the view claims both things, it is committed to the claim that we must be animals, and the self-same animals, at all times we exist."
- This is taken from "Snowdon (Paul) - Personal Identity and Brain Transplants" (1991), p. 111.
Footnote 16: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
- Mark Johnston - Particulars and Persistence (Doctoral Thesis, Princeton University, 1984) argues for the even stronger view that we are essentially human organisms, and this is defended against the brain transplanting intuition — you go where your brain goes — in the same way as animalists like Eric Olson later defended animalism against that intuition.
"Shoemaker (Sydney) - Thinking Animals Without Animalism"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part I, Chapter 6, pp. 128-141
- Persons1 breathe, eat, drink, digest food, excrete waste, and in countless other ways do what animals characteristically do. They have organs — hearts, livers, etc. — and reproductive systems characteristic of mammals, and share much of their DNA with other animals. Plainly they are animals. And, of course, since they are (predicatively) animals, they have the persistence conditions2 of the kind of animals they are.
- Is what I have just said an affirmation of animalism3? No. What I said implied nothing about what the persistence conditions4 of animals are. Animalism5, as I understand it, is the view that the persistence conditions6 of persons are biological rather than psychological. And what I said is compatible with their persistence conditions7 being psychological.
- Consider creatures like dogs, whose status as animals should be uncontroversial. As Peter Unger has pointed out, there are thought experiments8 similar to those that support the claim that the persistence conditions9 of persons are psychological that support the same claim about the persistence conditions10 of dogs and other higher mammals11. Suppose that transplanting the cerebrum12 of a dog resulted in the recipient acting just as the donor had done prior to the transplant13 — it recognizes and shows affection toward the donor’s master, knows its way around the donor’s home and neighborhood, digs for bones where the donor buried them, knows tricks that were taught the donor, and so on. As Unger points out, applying his "Avoidance of Future Great Pain Test14" to this case supports the claim that the recipient is the donor. If we are concerned for the well-being of the original dog, and know that this dog has a cerebrum transplant15 in its future, we will be willing that it be subjected to mild pain now if we know that this will prevent the recipient from being subjected to much greater pain after the transplant16. And, this test aside, it is intuitively plausible that given the psychological continuity17 between them, the donor and the recipient are one and the same dog.
- Must someone who accepts this conclusion deny that dogs are animals? Obviously not. What she must deny is that the persistence conditions18 of this sort of animal are purely biological. But this is not to deny that where the dog is there is an animal whose persistence conditions19 are purely biological. We can imagine that when Fido's cerebrum is transplanted20, there is left behind a "canine vegetable," kept alive by an artificial support system, which has all of Fido's former body except for the cerebrum21. And there is certainly a good sense in which this is the same animal as the one that had this body before the transplant22. Let’s say that it is the same "biological animal." The dog, though certainly an animal, is — prior to the transplant23 — coincident with but not identical with the biological animal. So on this view the term "animal" is ambiguous. It has its familiar sense, in which dogs, horses, chimps — and persons24 — are animals, and it has a technical sense in which it applies only to creatures, what I am calling biological animals, whose persistence conditions25 are purely biological.
- If dogs are coincident with, without being identical with, biological animals, the same is true of persons. So a person is an animal with psychological persistence conditions26 that is coincident with, and in some sense constituted by, a biological animal. Psychological accounts of personal identity are often charged with the implausible denial that animals can think or have mental properties. But obviously the animals persons are can think and have whatever mental properties persons have. It is the biological animals they are coincident with that lack such properties.
- If the term "animal" is ambiguous in the way I have suggested, it seems likely that there is a corresponding ambiguity in at least some of the biological predicates that are applied both to persons and dogs, animals in the one sense, and to biological animals. That idea will be developed later.
- In Chapter 6, Shoemaker continues his defence and elucidation of a modified Lockean account of personal identity, further amplifying a tradition of thought to which he has already made many significant contributions. It is extremely valuable having his recent thinking on this in the volume.
- Shoemaker wishes to say that persons are animals with psychological persistence conditions28, but that in the space each of us occupies, there is also what he calls a 'biological' animal, which is an entity with biological persistence conditions29. He regards this as meaning that 'animal' is ambiguous. Shoemaker follows Unger in holding that what we call animals (e.g. the cats and dogs we have as pets) are animals with psychological persistence conditions30, but they themselves also coincide with biological animals. On Shoemaker's reading of the animalist31 view, it says that persons are animals with biological persistence conditions32. The aim of his chapter is to explain how his complex view can escape the so-called 'too many minds33' objection to it, which is supposed to support animalism34. In Shoemaker's view, the objection arises because we accept physicalism, which seems to imply that physically identical things have the same mental properties, and since the psychological animal and the biological animal have the same physical properties, they will have the same mental life. Shoemakers response, therefore, is to devise a metaphysics of properties that gives an interpretation of physicalism which blocks this derivation.
- Shoemaker's account is centred on the distinction between thick and thin properties. Thin properties (e.g. shape) can be shared by entities of different kinds, whereas thick properties (e.g. mental properties) can be shared only by entities of the same kind. Shoemaker takes properties to be individuated by causal profiles. He distinguishes between causal roles that are defined in terms of effects generated in the entity itself and those that are not defined that way. A possible illustration of this distinction, not given by Shoemaker, is that being radioactive is not defined particularly in terms of effects on the entity itself, whereas being angry is, perhaps, defined in terms of continuing processes within the thing possessing the property. A further aspect of this distinction put forward in Section 6.3 is that a thick property 'partly determines the possessor’s persistence conditions35'. Shoemaker claims that mental properties are thin in this sense. Then, in Section 6.4, the notion of realization is clarified so that just because an entity possesses the properties which fix that there is a mental property present does not mean that that thing has the mental property. With these clarifications in place, Shoemaker proposes that he has avoided ascribing mental properties to biological animals. Further, in Sections 6.5 through 6.7, he employs the machinery that he has set up to explain the embodiment of psychological subjects, and also to explain and defend talk of bodies and corpses36.
- The metaphysics that Shoemaker constructs around the concepts described above defies any brief summary and also any brief assessment. The challenge for a reader is to test the approach out as thoroughly as possible.
In-Page Footnotes ("Shoemaker (Sydney) - Thinking Animals Without Animalism")
Footnote 11: "Unger (Peter) - The Survival of the Sentient", 2000.
- He means “people” or “human persons”.
- Some conceivable persons are non-biological.
Footnote 14: Footnote 24: Again – human persons.
Footnote 27: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
"Olson (Eric) - The Remnant-Person Problem"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part II, Chapter 7, pp. 145-161
- Animalism1, the view that we are animals, appears to have the troubling implication that removing your brain from your head would create a “remnant person”, who would be destroyed2 when put into a new head.
- The problem is serious and has no really satisfying solution. But it has nothing to do with animalism3 as such, and afflicts animalism’s4 main rival in equal measure.
- The Transplant5 Objection
- A Brief Clarification
- Responses to the Transplant6 Objection
- The Remnant-Person Problem
- Scattered Animalism7
- The Remote-Thought Hypothesis
- Remnant Cerebralism
- Brain Eliminativism
- The Generality of the Problem
- Olson devotes Chapter 7 to analysing a key objection to animalism9 and to assessing the prospects for a satisfactory animalist10 response to that objection. The objection he considers — the 'remnant persons objection', first developed by Mark Johnston ("Johnston (Mark) - 'Human Beings' Revisited: My Body is Not an Animal", 2007: 45) — is a twist on the more familiar transplant11 objection. In this case, instead of imagining your cerebrum12 being installed in the cerebrum-less13 skull of another human animal14, Johnston invites us to consider your cerebrum15 mid-transplant16: removed from your skull, but artificially sustained — in the fabled vat, say. This organ, we can assume, is not only capable of thought in general, but is psychologically just like you. Johnston calls it a 'remnant person'. Animalism17, of course, is committed to denying that this remnant person is you, since a cerebrum18 is not an animal. The official animalist19 line has it that you are the cerebrum-less20 organism left behind.
- But even beyond this counter-intuitive commitment, animalists21 face the further challenge of explaining the origin of a remnant person: When does it come into existence? As Olson notes, the person does not exist before the operation, since this would mean that there must have been two persons prior to the procedure: 'you, who according to animalism22 became a brainless vegetable, and the remnant person, who became a naked brain'. And yet the alternative answer — that the person came into existence when your cerebrum23 was removed from your skull — looks to be equally problematic. First of all, it seems absurd to think that a person could be created simply by cutting away sustaining human tissue. A further problem emerges once we imagine what the animalist24 must say about the fate of remnant people in transplant25 operations. When your cerebrum26 is installed in my body, I do not become you, the remnant person. According to animalism27, I am the same organism that previously lacked a cerebrum28; I was never a cerebrum29 in a vat. But this suggests that, by animalism’s30 lights, the result of the transplant31 is the destruction of the remnant person. Consequently, neither answer to the origin question appears to be open to the animalist32. Claiming that the person existed prior to the cerebrum’s33 removal commits the animalist34 to affirming the existence of multiple persons for each human animal35, while claiming that the person came into existence when the cerebrum36 was removed commits the animalist37 to the two absurdities just described.
- Olson devotes the remainder of his chapter to exploring several possible strategies whereby an animalist38 can avoid these absurdities while still accounting for the 'sort of thing the remnant person would be, where she could come from, what would happen to her at the end of the operation and why, and how she would relate to you and me'. He rules out the possibility that the remnant person could be you after considering three ways that an animalist39 might defend this claim —
— and finding all of them unconvincing. And Olson's objections to the proposal that the remnant person could be your cerebrum41 — what he calls 'remnant cerebralism' — are equally withering. The last strategy that Olson explores appeals to van Inwagen's ("Van Inwagen (Peter) - Material Beings", 1990) answer to the special composition question in denying the existence of a remnant person. Olson calls this proposal — 'brain eliminativism' — 'drastic', but offers no further criticism, and one has the sense that, of the various strategies open to the animalist42, this is the one that Olson regards as the least unpromising, as it were.
- 'Scattered animalism40', and
- Madden’s ("Madden (Rory) - Externalism and Brain Transplants", 2011) 'remote-thought hypothesis'
- Nevertheless, Olson concedes that he can see no really satisfying animalist43 solution to the remnant-person problem, but that this constitutes reason to reject animalism44 'only if our being animals is the source of the problem'. And in the final section of the chapter, Olson argues that this is not the case, i.e. that the remnant persons problem represents a challenge to animalism45 no more than it does to nearly all of animalism46's main rivals. The one exception, Olson recognizes, is the brain view, according to which we are our brains (or, perhaps, our cerebrums)47.
In-Page Footnotes ("Olson (Eric) - The Remnant-Person Problem")
Footnote 8: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
- The idea is that the isolated brain is the “remnant person”.
- But – according to Olson’s version of animalism – this person would be absorbed into the animal into which it is transplanted, and that animal would be the resulting person.
- Hence, the “remnant person” would then cease to exist (it is said).
"Blatti (Stephan) - Headhunters"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part II, Chapter 8, pp. 162-179
- Advocates of the view known as "animalism1" make the following straightforward claim: we are animals.
- This claim will strike some as hardly worth asserting, let alone defending.
- But since most contemporary theorists of personal identity still deny animalism2, a defense is required after all.
- The Thinking Animal Argument3
- The Thinking Parts Problem
- Answering the Thinking Parts Problem
- Short-Circuiting the Thinking Parts Problem
- In Chapter 8, Stephan Blatti focuses on what might be called the standard objection to the standard argument. The standard argument for animalism5 — the 'thinking animal argument6' — was developed and refined over the years by Michael R. Ayers, William Carter, John McDowell, Paul Snowdon, and Eric Olson. This argument registers the implausible multiplication of thinkers to which anyone who denies animalism7's identity thesis is thereby committed. According to one formulation of the standard argument, since animals think, and since you think, if the identity thesis is false, then there must be two qualitatively identical mental lives running in parallel: yours and that of the animal located where you are. But since this is absurd, we should accept the identity thesis. The standard objection to this argument — one that animalism8's supporters and critics alike regard as posing a formidable challenge — points out that an analogous line of reasoning seems to recommend the opposite conclusion. Since thinking is plausibly attributed to many of an animal’s proper parts — e.g. its undetached head, its brain — what entitles the animalist9 to suppose that each of us is the whole thinking animal10 rather than any one of the animals many thinking parts? This sceptical question reflects the 'thinking parts problem'.
- Blatti’s aim is not to solve this problem, but to outline several strategies that animalists11 might pursue further in attempting to escape the thinking parts problem without renouncing the thinking animal argument12. According to one of these strategies, the animalist13 answers the sceptical question directly by appealing to Tim Williamson’s ("Williamson (Timothy) - Knowledge and its Limits", 2000) recent attack on the 'phenomenal conception of evidence' and its role in sceptical scenarios like the one envisioned by the thinking parts problem. According to this conception, a subject's phenomenal state just is her evidentiary state. But, Blatti suggests, if Williamson is correct that this conception is false because knowledge is factive, then the sort of evidence to which we would ordinarily appeal in ascribing thinking to the whole animal (e.g. the fact that the sensory, proprioceptive, and kinesthetic experiences that your proper, thinking parts have are detected in parts of the whole animal that are not parts of themselves) does in fact ground our claim to know — indeed, consists in our knowledge — that each of us is the whole thinking animal14 rather than any of its thinking parts.
- The second main strategy that Blatti explores involves short-circuiting the thinking parts problem by challenging the attribution of thinking to proper parts in the first place. Here he distinguishes Wittgensteinian15 from non-Wittgensteinian16 resistance to such ascriptions. For the Wittgensteinian17, to ascribe psychological activities to a proper part is to subsume under the concept human animal18 something that does not fall under that concept. Thinking cannot intelligibly be attributed proper parts like heads and brains, on this view, because the criteria for the ascription of thinking lie in the behaviour of a whole animal, and proper parts do not behave. The non-Wittgensteinian19 diagnosis that Blatti sketches reaches the same conclusion by a different route. Rather than pointing to conceptual confusion as the culprit, he urges us to reflect on the contexts in which attributions of thinking are ordinarily made; not in isolation, let alone in the course of philosophical argument, but embedded in practices of agential understanding and moral concern. In other words, it is in our attempts to describe, explain, praise, and blame one another's actions that we credit ourselves with various cognitive and affective capacities. This, Blatti suggests, is the reason why animalism20's critic is mistaken in attributing thinking to a human animal21's parts: because the only behaviour eligible for agential understanding and moral concern is the behaviour of the whole animal.
- The aim of Blatti's paper is not to pursue any one of these strategies as far as they go, but to provide a roadmap for other animalists22 to do so. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that, for all of the strategies Blatti sketches, the devil lurks in the details, and some of those details — such as Williamson’s conception of knowledge as evidence and Wittgenstein23's account of conceptual criteria — are highly contentious indeed.
In-Page Footnotes ("Blatti (Stephan) - Headhunters")
"Madden (Rory) - Thinking Parts"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part II, Chapter 9, pp. 180-207
- Undetached proper parts of human organisms generate a sceptical threat to the naïve thesis that we have human form.
- This paper introduces some new ways of dealing with the sceptical threat.
- Empirical enquiry into the natural world can throw up results that seem to cast doubt on elements of our naive image of our place in the world. Sophisticated contemporary physics is a source of results of this general sort. But philosophers have sometimes seen our naive conception of things threatened by rather more modest empirical findings. Hume, for example, took it that knowledge of the occurrence of simple perceptual illusions was a sufficient basis on which to refute the naive realist view that in perception we are directly acquainted with external objects. Naive realism about perception has also been criticized on the basis of another empirical commonplace, that proximal stimulation of one's nervous system can bring about sensory experience indistinguishable from the perception of distal external objects.
- In this chapter I want to investigate the question of whether a modest empirical truth about the relationship between experience and the central nervous system should cast doubt upon another element of our naive image of our place in the world.
- 1.1. The Naïve Thesis
- 1.2. A Sceptical Threat to the Naïve Thesis
- 1.3. The Plan
- Epistemic Solutions
- 2.1. An Evidential Externalist Strategy
- 2.2 Linguistic and Thought Theoretic Strategies
- 2.3 Self-Acquaintance and Self-Monitoring
- Psychological Solutions
- 3.1. Spatial Parts and Causal Parts
- 3.2 Maximality and Functional Parts
- 3.3. Natural Function and the Mind
- Remnant Persons
- 4.1. The Dilemma for Animalists1
- 4.2. Creation and Exposure
- 4.3. Continued Participation
- In Chapter 9, Rory Madden’s very rich contribution starts from a recently devised problem for what he calls the naive thesis, which is the idea that we are things which have a human shape, and that the things within that shape are our parts. This is summarized in the words that we are humanoids. As he points out, this thesis is not the same as animalism3, since it is possible to hold that we are constituted by the animal where we are, even though we are not identical to that animal, but we would then share the animal's shape. Clearly, though, animalists4 are committed to the naive thesis. The problem in its initial formulation is epistemological. It relies on a number of assumptions and so takes some time to formulate properly, even in summary form.
- It starts from the naturalistically inspired thesis that the parts of us that are responsible for generating consciousness and thought are just a small part of us. Most of us would say that these parts, which Madden calls our T-parts, are more or less the same as the brain. To this can be added the idea that just as our T-parts are what enable us to have a viewpoint, our T-parts are also parts of other entities, whose existence we seem to recognize. Thus my T-part is also part of my head, and of my upper body, etc. Now, it would seem that if I have a viewpoint in virtue of the processes in the T-parts that I contain, then anybody who contains those same T-parts thereby also acquires a viewpoint, indeed the same viewpoint. So this means that my head has a point of view, as does my upper body, as does anything that overlaps with my T-parts. If that is right, then our knowledge that we are humanoids is threatened. The reason is, roughly, that it is not implausible to say that it is a condition on a ground for a belief to count as knowledge-generating that it will not generate errors in most subjects who form beliefs on its basis. However, most of my overlappers will form the false belief that they are humanoid on the basis of the experiences which lead me to think I am humanoid. Given this epistemological principle, it would seem to follow that I do not know that I am humanoid. In which case it also seems to follow that I do not know that I am an animal. Madden remarks that he agrees with Olson in thinking that this is a far more troublesome problem for animalism5 than the familiar traditional anti-animalist arguments.
- In Madden's engagement with this argument a rich and very interesting range of responses are developed and explored. What stands out is that the argument relies on a fair number of diverse assumptions, allowing a wide range of potential replies. One response he mentions is what he calls 'eliminativism', the view that there are no such things as undetached parts of us. If there are no overlappers then the problem vanishes. Some philosophers affirm this negative ontological claim. Madden's response is not to affirm categorically the existence of overlappers, but to suggest, surely plausibly, that it is hard to feel confident that there are no such things as my head or my hands or my fingers. Indeed, such a response is almost as paradoxical as the original sceptical conclusion. We are to save the idea that we know we are humanoid by being sceptical that there are such things as heads, knees, and toes.
- Conceding then that there might be overlappers, there is the rough distinction, introduced by Olson and followed by Madden, between potential solutions that query the epistemological assumptions and those that reject the psychological assumptions relied on in the argument.
- The first epistemological response he sets out is to deny that the fact that my overlappers on the basis of the same grounds as I have will go wrong and so discredit the idea that I have knowledge about my shape and parts. The suggestion is that it is not at all obvious that I and my overlappers are basing our convictions on what should be thought of as the same grounds. Madden calls this move 'evidential-externalism'. Madden’s view is that more needs to be said if this response is to look persuasive, but he does not rule some such addition out.
- Madden then develops what he calls a thought-theoretic response. The proposal to be explored starts from the idea that to entertain thoughts about oneself one needs to be acquainted with oneself, which involves having genuine channels of information about oneself. What Madden then explores is the thought that this requires mechanisms that have the natural function of supplying such information. If something like this is true then there is a reason to disallow that the so-called overlappers have acquaintance with themselves, since it would be very implausible to claim that there are mechanisms in our bodies with such a natural function.
- The third potential response that Madden articulates (in Section 9.3) proposes that the elucidation of what a mental subject is — that is to say, being a thing with a point of view and consciousness — involves the idea that the grounds of consciousness within it must have the proper natural function of interceding between the inputs and the outputs of the things itself. To this can be added the suggestion that the neural structures within humans have that function for the human, and not for the overlappers. The consequence would be that the overlappers are not in fact minded, even though they contain within themselves structures that ground consciousness. Madden carefully explores this proposal and suggests ways of developing it.
- Finally, Madden engages with the remnant persons problem as proposed by Mark Johnston and Derek Parfit. He points out that this objection is not the same as the main one he is considering. His response to this consists in giving counterexamples to the basic assumption in the way that problem is set up, which is that shrinking an entity cannot create a new thing of the same sort as you started with. Madden’s example comes from biology.
- This summary leaves out most of the fascinating details of Madden’s discussion. His chapter does raise many questions. One is whether the general idea of function plays the roles in our understanding of knowledge and of having a mind that his response to the main sceptical argument requires. Another important question is whether there might be other responses than the ones Madden explores. Overall, Madden's discussion encourages animalists6 in their suspicion that the sceptical argument rests on too many assumptions to be genuinely convincing.
For the full text, follow this link (Local website only): PDF File7.
In-Page Footnotes ("Madden (Rory) - Thinking Parts")
Footnote 2: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
"Hershenov (David) - Four-Dimensional Animalism"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part II, Chapter 10, pp. 208-226
- So once readers see that thinkers are best individuated by life processes, it becomes arbitrary to claim only part of the animal is a person. One can still, on the basis of unrestricted composition, claim that the person consists of only scattered thinking stages of organisms before and after the stroke-induced coma and injury. But the stages of the animal don’t have the right causal connections.
- Such a ‘person’ is an artificial, gerrymandered product of the principle of unrestricted composition, not an entity possessing either a natural biological or psychological unity1 between its stages. Calling such an entity a person would be as suspect as claiming the first half of my life and the second half of your life would compose a person. There is no immanent mental causation2 between the thoughts of the person who suffers the stroke-induced brain damage and temporary coma, and the later pains and pleasures. Likewise for the other scenarios discussed.
- If immanent causation3 is needed, then it would be in the form of life processes unifying sleeping4 and waking Socrates, the senile general and the young thief, the later stroke victim and the earlier rational self, the merely sentient newborn and the later reflective child, or the divided and then reunified mind studying for Parfit’s5 physics exam.
- So we see that our prudential intuitions, our belief that we are persons if any entities are, and the maximality principle all serve to indicate that the human animal6 is the least arbitrary candidate for the persistence of the person in the above cases.
- Why Four-Dimensional Human Animals7 Don’t Appear to be Persons
- The Components of a Person
- Natural Development
- Contribution Determines Composition
- The Human Animal8 is the Only Person
- The Collapse of Psychological Continuity9 into Biological Continuity
- The Collapse of Brain-Based Psychological Identity into Biological Identity
- In Chapter 10, David B. Hershenov engages with a very important question about animalism11, which can be expressed in these words; How does animalism12 stand within a four-dimensionalist approach to ontology? Most supporters of animalism13 work in a non-four-dimensionalist framework, and perhaps, as one might put it, simply hope that the view's status is not affected by the choice of a different basic metaphysics. Hershenov’s discussion aims to make a case for the truth of this claim or hope by critically examining the arguments of Hud Hudson, whom Hershenov describes, as having 'thought longer and harder about this topic' than anyone else he knows.
- Hershenov proceeds by picking out two lines of thought that Hudson proposes and trying to counter them.
- The first is, roughly, that according to the animalist14 the person has early stages which are mindless, but since according to the dominant type of four-dimensionalism there will be countless objects with early stages that are mindless, this will mean that there are 'an infinite number of entities that are persons', which is absurd.
- The second argument that Hudson proposes is that stages of animals contain elements that are not involved in thinking, whereas it is less arbitrary to restrict person stages to bits that are directly relevant to the production of thought.
- To the first argument Hershenov replies, roughly, that it is not at all arbitrary to have a view according to which persons have stages which are 'unminded', since these early stages have a crucial causal role in the final generation of the minded stages, when what we have is a developing animal.
- To the second argument Hershenov replies that it is far less easy than philosophers assume to restrict the generation of mindfulness to the brain. This is bold, and is clearly not a point the significance of which solely concerns the particular purposes of Hershenov's chapter.
- In the final two sections, Hershenov argues with considerable forcefulness that our judgements (or intuitions) about our persistence — as revealed, for example, in our attitude of prudential concern — indicate that what we are best regarded as tracking are the human animals15 we are (according to animalism)16. This part of his argument links to and contrasts with Johansson's treatment of prudence17. It is clear that Hershenov has, in this chapter, contributed in a major way to two debates.
- The first debate is the one mentioned earlier about the status of animalism18 within a four-dimensionalist ontology.
- The second debate is, of course, the general assessment of the arguments which are critical of animalism19 and which can be presented within other more standard ontologies. Of particular importance here is his attempt to oppose some of the pressures to shrink the person to something more or less like the brain.
For the full text, follow this link (Local website only): PDF File20.
In-Page Footnotes ("Hershenov (David) - Four-Dimensional Animalism")
Footnote 10: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
Footnote 17: In "Johansson (Jens) - Animal Ethics".
"Campbell (Tim) & McMahan (Jeff) - Animalism and the Varieties of Conjoined Twinning"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part III, Chapter 11, pp. 229-252
- We defend the view that we are not identical to organisms against the objection that it implies that there are two subjects of every conscious state one experiences: oneself and one’s organism.
- We then criticize animalism1 — the view that each of us is identical to a human organism — by showing that it has unacceptable implications for a range of actual and hypothetical cases of conjoined2 twinning3: dicephalus4, craniopagus parasiticus, and cephalopagus.
- Animalism5 and the Challenge of Dicephalus6
- The Too-Many-Subjects Problem
- You Are a Part of an Organism
- Objections to the Dicephalus7 Argument
- Craniopagus parasiticus
- Severed Heads and Headless Bodies
In Chapter 11, Tim Campbell and Jeff McMahan do two very important things.
- They construct what they see as counterexamples to the animalist10 identity based on the cases where either there are what might be called two-headed animals and cases where there are what might be called two animals sharing a single head. About these cases they claim that either they involve two subjects or selves and a single animal — in which case both subjects cannot be the animal, hence one is not an animal — or they involve one subject and two animals, and since there is no reason to identify the self with one of the animals rather than the other, it cannot be either animal. These cases are extremely interesting, and
- One issue is whether Campbell and McMahan adjudicate them correctly.
- But the second crucial issue is what it would show if they are right about these cases. They simply assert that we — standard and typical humans — are the same sort of thing as the selves in these odd cases. But is that a legitimate assumption?
- The second thing they do is to develop a conception of ourselves according to which we either are brains or are constituted by brains (or parts of brains). A very basic question is whether this conception is supported by consideration of the examples, but also whether such an approach has any plausibility.
In-Page Footnotes ("Campbell (Tim) & McMahan (Jeff) - Animalism and the Varieties of Conjoined Twinning")
Footnote 9: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
"Reid (Mark D.) - A Case in Which Two Persons Exist in One Animal"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part III, Chapter 12, pp. 253-265
- Animalism1 holds that we are each numerically identical to a particular human animal2, and three of its implications are that:-
- We existed as mindless embryos3, that
- We would continue to exist in an irreversibly comatose state, and that
- If one's cerebrum were transplanted4, the recipient would have all of one’s memories and character traits but not be oneself. According to animalism5, one would remain the decerebrate human animal6.
- One might suppose that a case involving the gradual transformation of a human person into a nonhuman person, such as a chimpanzee, would be a counterexample to animalism7, since the result would be a different animal but arguably the same person as the original human person. But animalism8 opposes the traditional view that there are psychological conditions for a person’s survival ("Snowdon (Paul) - Persons, Animals, and Bodies", 1995: 73). Moreover, species change, as well as teletransportation9 and the erasure of all of a brain’s psychological contents are conceivable but purely hypothetical and thus weak counterexamples to animalism10.
- Better counterexamples to animalism11 are actual cases or realistic but hypothetical cases. Actual cases include
McMahan and Blatti also consider realistic hypothetical cases of dicephalus15, and Olson considers realistic hypothetical cases of DID with two personas.
- Split-brain12 patients ("Nagel (Thomas) - Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness", 1979; Snowdon, 1995),
- Dicephalus13 ("McMahan (Jeff) - The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life", 2002; "Blatti (Stephan) - Animalism, Dicephalus, and Borderline Cases", 2007), and
- Dissociative identity disorder (DID14) with multiple personas ("Olson (Eric) - Was Jekyll Hyde?", 2003).
- In this chapter, I present a realistic but hypothetical counterexample to animalism16 in which two persons exist in one animal. This example is an actual possibility, as it requires only presently available techniques. It asks us to consider the administration of anesthesia to only one hemisphere at a time, so that when one hemisphere is unconscious, the other alone is conscious and free to exercise exclusive control over the human animal17. If applied to one hemisphere after the other in succession, this technique would cause there to be two fully independent hemispheres, each of which could be conscious on alternating days. This case could produce two persons, one per hemisphere, without changing the number of animals. Animalism18, however, denies that this is possible.
- The logic of the argument against animalism19 based on this example is as follows.
- If each of the two persons were identical to the animal, they would be identical to each other, but they are not.
- Because each is a person with an equal claim to be identical to the animal, neither is identical to it.
- Because they are identical to no other animal, they are not identical to any animal, which means that it is unlikely that any person is identical to an animal.
- Even if only some of us are not identical to animals, animalism20 is false.
- Animalists21 and their opponents can agree about the particular mental and non-mental facts of my case but disagree about the number of persons. And the animalist22, it seems, must resist the claim that there are two persons23, but I will show that this is implausible.
- Duplication24 Objections
- A Case in which Two Persons Exist in One Animal
- Features of Personhood
- Mark D. Reid begins Chapter 12 by surveying what he calls counterexamples to animalism26 which 'involve duplication27', and he concludes that the standard ones are 'inconclusive'. Reid proposes a new potential counterexample, which he urges us to regard as 'conclusive'.
- His extremely ingenious and novel case in effect combines brain splitting (with a severed corpus callosum) plus a process called 'Intra-carotid Amytal Procedure', in which one cerebral hemisphere is in effect disabled by the selective injection of some substance leaving the other hemisphere capable of operating. Reid envisages that what happens is that on one day one hemisphere is disabled and then on the next day the other hemisphere is disabled, and so on. This is envisaged as happening from birth (or even earlier). Reid's claim is that the best description of the result is that there are two distinct persons created in a single animal, whom we might call 'Lefty' and 'Righty'. Each sleeps28 during the day the other is awake29.
- In his paper Reid carefully develops and evaluates the issues that are involved in this case. Looked at in a general way there are two big questions the imagined case raises.
- The first concerns the overall logic. Suppose we agree with Reid's description of what has happened, namely the creation of two persons in a single (human) animal. Is that a serious problem for animalism30? This issue arises for the argument developed in "Campbell (Tim) & McMahan (Jeff) - Animalism and the Varieties of Conjoined Twinning", and so we shall not spell it out again.
- The second issue is whether Reid's description of what this case involves is correct. We need to remind ourselves that, if we think about the case in terms of what is happening to the single human animal31, then we have to count it as involving a single functioning entity, the animal, which is being damaged by a complex surgical procedure. Having to think that way about the animal, it seems fair to say, must have some weight in deciding how we are to describe it in terms of 'persons' and 'subjects'.
- However, this new case merits careful scrutiny.
In-Page Footnotes ("Reid (Mark D.) - A Case in Which Two Persons Exist in One Animal")
- Animalism's rival is the better-known, more widely endorsed psychological approach, according to which we are each numerically identical to a particular human person. This approach defines a person at a time by psychological unity and defines a person over time by psychological continuity.
- Because embryonic and irreversibly comatose human animals lack a psychology entirely, they are not persons. The psychological approach thus holds that we do not exist when the animals that are us exist at these times.
- Because a transplanted cerebrum would be psychologically continuous with us, this approach says that we become its recipient.
Footnote 25: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
- Is this correct? Ie. That animalists must resist this idea?
- This argument seems to play on the notion that animalists think that we are persons, when it only claims that we are animals.
- This confusion may be helped along by Olson’s reference to us as “people”, which is sometimes taken to be equivalent to “persons”.
- So, this is just a slightly-modified (pseudo)-scientific version of Locke’s day- and night-persons?
- Also, is it even an original idea?
- See Wikipedia – Wikipedia: Wada test – for the Wada Test.
"Snowdon (Paul) - Animalism and the Unity of Consciousness: Some Issues"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part III, Chapter 13, pp. 266-282
- For the purposes of discussion in this chapter I shall understand animalism1 as the thesis that each of us is identical with an animal. Many questions could, no doubt, be raised about this formulation, and also about the truth of the formulated claim, which I shall not pursue here. The thing I wish to stress is that animalism2 so defined is not well characterized as a thesis about personal identity.
- First, if providing a theory of personal identity means providing a specification of what constitutes our remaining in existence over time, animalism3 does not explicitly provide that. The thesis implies that we have the same requirements for persistence as the animals we are, but it does not say what they are. Determining that is a matter for further debate.
- Second, and more significantly, as I shall argue, the animalist4 thesis has implications about matters other than personal identity. In particular I shall develop the claim that it has implications about how we should think about the unity of consciousness5 and the unity of psychological subjects.
- The point can be put more generally: animalism6 identifies us with a certain type of natural object — human animals7 — and so it implies that the understanding of any important features that we may possess must be consistent with the idea that it is an animal that possesses them. There is really no limiting in advance what implications this idea has. We are, in fact, currently at the stage of working out these implications. In the light of our estimate of them we shall either accept them as correct, or alternatively reject animalism8.
- In a single chapter it is impossible to consider all the implications that animalism9 might have for the issue of unity of consciousness10 and of mind. In order, then, to make a start with the issue in the space available I propose to consider what animalism11 implies about actual split-brain cases — but also about imagined and more extreme extensions of such cases. By a split-brain case I am thinking of a case where we start with an ordinary human being and in an operation its corpus callosum is severed. Having tried to work out what the implications are I shall ask whether there is anything wrong in supposing that the implied verdicts are actually correct.
- Puzzles of Commisurotomy
- The Animalist12 Treatment
- Unity Requirements
- The Possibility of a Consistent Interpretation
- Other Constraints
- Inferential Conditions
- Unity of Experience Principles
- Some Problems
- What Experience Must Be Like
- In Chapter 13, Paul Snowdon attempts to broaden the exploration of animalism14. The chapter tries to work out what implications animalism15 has about the conditions for different mental states to belong to a single subject. When we are talking about experiences this might be called the unity of consciousness16.
- Focussing on the example of split-brain cases,
- It is argued that animalism17 is committed to a singularist verdict; that is, the verdict that the post-operative states are states of a single subject, despite the functional disunity among them.
- It is then argued that no contradiction can be generated in psychological theories for such single subjects,
- Nor are there principles of interpretation (of a kind proposed by Donald Davidson) that such a psychological theory must flout.
- Nor are there, contrary to what Tim Bayne proposes, any principles about inferences a single subject must make in relation to first-person beliefs, which create difficulties for this account.
- When the debate focuses on experiences it is argued that no reason exists not to count the various experiences that the post-operative patients enjoy as experiences of a single subject. Thomas Nagel, it is claimed, fails to unearth any principle that rules this out. In conclusion, it is proposed that the question as to what degree of unity the mental states of a single subject must possess is an empirical one, and there are no reliable a priori principles that we can discern.
- Various questions can be raised about this argument.
- Does the chapter really explain how to avoid problems for singularism in relation to split-brain cases?
- Does it seriously disarm the Nagelian intuition that the experiences of a single subject must have some strong degree of functional unity?
- Are there perhaps other more difficult cases for the singularism to which animalism18 is committed?
In-Page Footnotes ("Snowdon (Paul) - Animalism and the Unity of Consciousness: Some Issues")
"Johansson (Jens) - Animal Ethics"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part III, Chapter 14, pp. 283-302
- I am an animal. But don't misunderstand; I am not suggesting that I should be on a leash, served as dinner, or prevented from voting. Rather, I want to give a rough formulation of a certain view of personal identity, the doctrine often called "animalism1."
- While animalism2 is much more popular nowadays than it was until about twenty years ago (a development largely due to "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology", 1997; "Snowdon (Paul) - Persons, Animals, and Ourselves", 1990; "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Material Beings", 1990), most philosophers still reject it. One important reason to do so is that the theory has counter-intuitive ethical consequences — especially in cases where a person's psychology is transferred to another organism.
- In such a case, animalism3 seems to yield the odd result that I should have prudential concern about someone else's future and not about my own, and that I am morally responsible for what someone else has done but not for what I myself have done.
- In this chapter, I shall discuss this sort of objection against animalism4, with special attention to Eric Olson's responses ("Olson (Eric) - Why We Need Not Accept the Psychological Approach", 1997). While I find these somewhat wanting, I shall suggest at the end of the chapter another kind of animalist5 response. As I will note, it has some similarities with the most influential argument in favor of animalism6, the "thinking animal7" argument.
- Animalism8: What It Is, and Isn’t
- The Persistence of Animals
- Two Arguments from Prudential Concern
- The Problem Spreads
- Help from an Unexpected Source
- But Hardly Enough
- Two Arguments from Moral Responsibility
- A Continuous Copy?
- Mary’s Loss of Memory
- Don’t Forget the Animals
- Us and Them
- Jens Johansson starts Chapter 14 by helpfully clarifying the animalist10 thesis. Having done that, the paper aims to analyse and evaluate some problems for animalism11 that arise out of our attitudes to prudential concern and moral responsibility. One can say, therefore, that Johansson's chapter belongs in the general category of considering issues about animalism12 that relate to value theory. In particular, Johansson engages with replies, suggested by "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology" (1997), to some possible arguments of this sort that are critical of animalism13. These issues arise from both the nature of what is called 'prudential concern' and from assumptions that we make about moral responsibility, though here we shall restrict the summary to the case of prudential concern. That is meant to be the special sort of concern that someone feels about something that is taken by them to be going to happen to them.
- The problem for animalism14 arises from two assumptions.
- The first assumption, which might appear truistic given the previous characterization, is that if, say, X is reasonably prudentially concerned about the future occurrence of E then E must be happening to X, i.e. X is the person to whom E will be happening. This links (reasonable) prudence to personal identity.
- The second, more controversial assumption, is that if looking ahead X knows that the person undergoing E will be linked psychologically to X in the way that a cerebrum transplant15 from X into some other object will bring about then it will be reasonable for X to be prudentially concerned about the occurrence of E. If that is granted then it implies that transplanting the cerebrum16 of X preserves and takes with it the person X, a proposition that is normally thought of as inconsistent with animalism17.
- Olson’s clever response to this line of thought is to deny the first and apparently truistic claim that proper prudential concern requires identity with the person undergoing E. Olson points out that Parfit18 and Shoemaker have already made a convincing case against this. Johansson agrees, but adds that Olson has not shown that there are no related principles about prudence that can be used to generate an anti-animalist conclusion.
- Johansson’s clever and novel move to break this logjam is to suggest that we focus on the entity that is agreed to be the animal present in the scenarios. Two things now seem true.
If both things are granted then it turns out that the range of reasonable prudence does not conflict with animalism20. In this move Johansson is attempting to make progress, as he himself points out, in a way that animalists21 have done in other areas in the debate, which is to ask participants to think about what we should say about the animal which is agreed to be present. This provides, or appears to provide, a significant anchor to speculation about what should be said.
- First, we know (or we can assume) that the animal does not go with the cerebrum19 and whatever psychological connexions it generates.
- But if it is plausible to say that the person is reasonably prudentially concerned about the future occurrence of E it seems equally plausible to say that the animal is also reasonably prudentially concerned.
- The important question that now arises if there still is to be debate about these issues is whether Johansson's judgements about the animal are correct. But another important issue is whether someone trying to deny animalism22 and sustain the person/animal contrast can do that plausibly once we remember that both fall in the domain of practical reason. Has Johansson here provided us with a strengthening of the so-called 'two-lives' argument?
In-Page Footnotes ("Johansson (Jens) - Animal Ethics")
Footnote 9: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
"Shoemaker (David) - The Stony Metaphysical Heart of Animalism"
Source: Blatti & Snowdon - Animalism: New Essays on Persons, Animals, and Identity, 2016: Part III, Chapter 15, pp. 303-327
- Animalism1, by the forthright acknowledgment of many of its own adherents, does poorly at accounting for our identity-related practical concerns. The reason is straightforward: whereas our practical concerns seem to track the identity of psychological creatures — persons — animalism2 focuses on the identity of human organisms who are not essentially persons. This lack of fit between our practical concerns and animalism3 may thus be taken to pose the following serious Challenge to animalism4:
- Animalism5 lacks the proper fit with the set of our practical concerns;
- If a theory of personal identity lacks the proper fit with the set of our practical concerns, it suffers a loss in plausibility; thus,
- Animalism6 suffers a loss in plausibility (in particular to psychological criteria7 of identity).
- There are two very general replies to Challenge.
- First, one might deny (i), showing that animalism8 doesn't in fact lack the proper fit with our practical concerns. One might tack this response in one of two directions: either
- Appeal to the fact that animal continuity is at least a necessary condition for instantiation of the relevant (psychologically grounded) practical concerns (and so is sufficient for delivering a "proper fit"),
- Show that our understanding of the relevant practical concerns is overly narrow and that our person-related practical concerns may actually define the "persons" to whom they apply in much broader — humanesque — terms, such that the theory of identity that fits best with them in the end is actually, surprisingly, animalism9.
- The second general response to Challenge is to deny (ii), showing instead how a lack of fit with our practical concerns is not a plausibility condition for theories of personal identity.
- What we have, then, are actually three attempted responses to Challenge, and these may be drawn from the work of, respectively,
→ David DeGrazia,
→ Marya Schechtman, and
→ Eric Olson.
- It is my first aim in this chapter to explain and evaluate them.
- I will find the first two responses problematic and the third, while on the right track, to be significantly incomplete.
- I will then attempt to fill in the gaps of the third response to render it viable.
- In doing so, I will show that and how our practical concerns do not consist in a monolithic set; rather, there are distinctly different types of practical concerns, and while some are clearly grounded on psychological relations, some are actually grounded on others, including animalistic10 and humanistic relations; furthermore, their actual connection to identity is tenuous at best.
- What these concerns are, how they divide up, and what they are grounded on in each instance — these are the issues it is my second aim in this chapter to take up.
- I begin with a more thorough explication of Challenge.
- Accounting for our Practical Concerns, 1.0: DeGrazia’s Realism
- Accounting for our Practical Concerns, 2.0: Schechtman’s Expanded Persons
- Divorcing Animalism11 from Our Practical Concerns: Olson and Transplants12
- The Pluralism of the Practical
- Like "Johansson (Jens) - Animal Ethics", David Shoemaker is also concerned with animalism14's normative import. In Chapter 15, he addresses animalism15's apparent inability to account for the practical concerns of human persons. Shoemaker formulates this objection as an argument against the plausibility of animalism16, as follows:
- 'Animalism17 lacks the proper fit with the set of our practical concerns;
- If a theory of personal identity lacks the proper fit with the set of our practical concerns, it suffers a loss in plausibility; thus,
- Animalism18 suffers a loss in plausibility (in particular to psychological criteria19 of identity)'
- In response to this objection — which he labels 'Challenge' — Shoemaker considers three possible replies, each of which is extrapolated from recent work by
→ "DeGrazia (David) - Human Identity and Bioethics", 2005,
→ Marya Schechtman, 201020, and
→ "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology", 1997.
- According to Shoemaker, both DeGrazia and Schechtman would reply to Challenge denying (i).
- In DeGrazia's case, (i) is rejected on the grounds that, as far as what is known about the actual world, the persistence of human animals21 is at least a necessary condition for the possession of those psychological characteristics which, in turn, ground such practical concerns as moral responsibility, prudential concern, and the like. By DeGrazia's lights, this fact is enough to block the inference to (iii) — i.e. to present animalism22 from suffering any loss in plausibility.
- Schechtman too would contend animalism23 is perfectly capable of accounting for the practical concerns of human persons. But on her view, the route to (i)'s rejection is more ambitious, involving appeal to an expansive notion of personhood — what she calls a 'person-life' — which 'incorporate[s] the metaphysical insights of animalism24 in a way that allows that theory to produce the desired practical implications'.
- Ultimately, however, Shoemaker finds that neither DeGrazia's nor Schechtman's denials of (i) result in what an adequate response to Challenge really demands, which is an explanation of the justificatory role played by identity qua necessary condition for our practical concerns, where that explanation is both robust and informative (in senses that Shoemaker describes).
- More promising, Shoemaker argues, is Olson's reply to Challenge, which involves denying not (i), but (ii). According to Olson, the intuition many of us report concerning familiar brain-transplant25 scenarios — i.e. that persons go where their psychological-continuity-preserving organs go — may not track any particular theory of personal identity, but only our practical concerns. And in that case, animalism26 may be true regardless of its failure to explain adequately our practical concerns.
- But as Shoemaker points out, even if Olson is correct that the transplant27 intuition may reflect only our practical concerns and thus can be divorced from any particular account of personal identity, it does not follow that the plausibility of a theory of personal identity is not impacted by the degree to which it jibes with our practical concerns. As a result, Olson’s attack on (ii) is not sufficiently strong. On Shoemaker’s view, what is required in order to undermine (ii) — and, thereby, to block the inference to (iii) — is a defence of the claim that 'none of the relations or elements in which numerical identity28 consists matter, so that the correct theory of personal identity will contain nothing of relevance to our practical concerns'. This is precisely the claim that Shoemaker proceeds to defend in the concluding section of the chapter — what he calls the 'Identity Really Really Doesn't Matter View.'
For the full text, follow this link (Local website only): PDF File29.
In-Page Footnotes ("Shoemaker (David) - The Stony Metaphysical Heart of Animalism")
Footnote 13: Taken from "Blatti (Stephan) & Snowdon (Paul), Eds. - Animalism: Introduction".
- “Personhood and the Practical”, Theoretical Medicine & Bioethics; August 2010, Vol. 31 Issue 4, p271
- I don’t have this paper. The abstract on EBSCOHost is as follows:-
- Traditionally, it has been assumed that metaphysical and practical questions about personhood and personal identity are inherently linked. Neo-Lockean views that draw such a link have been problematic, leading to an opposing view that metaphysical and ethical questions about persons should be sharply distinguished. This paper argues that consideration of this issue suffers from an overly narrow conception of the practical concerns associated with persons that focuses on higher-order capacities and fails to appreciate basic practical concerns more directly connected to our animality. A more inclusive alternative is proposed.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)