Theo Todman's Web Page - Notes Pages
(Text as at 11/05/2018 09:37:26)
(For other versions of this Note, see the tables at the end)
- In general, I’m in favour of using thought experiments in philosophy.
- However, I’d like to consider, following "Wilkes (Kathleen) - Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments", whether some thought-experiments in pursuit of clarifying issues in personal identity
- Sometimes our intuitions are unreliable as to the truth or possibility of what we intuit.
- Some doubt the possible phenomenal consciousness of artificial systems, however complex, but is this anything other than a fallacious argument from personal incredulity?
- Descartes argued for the real distinction2 between mind and body by thinking he could imagine their separation, but could he really?
- Sometimes, our intuitions may give us no clue one way or the other, or only a gentle lead (as Williams seems to be suggesting in "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future").
- "Snowdon (Paul) - Personal Identity and Brain Transplants" gives a helpful critique of Wilkes’s and Johnston’s arguments (see "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings") against thought experiments.
- "Wilson (Jack) - Beyond Horses and Oak Trees: A New Theory of Individuation for Living Entities" thinks that TEs should be avoided where possible, and real examples used – as at least in actual circumstances we know that the situation is possible (“actual implies possible”), and we know, or can discover, all the background conditions.
- The trouble is that there may not be enough naturally-occurring situations, or practically or ethically available experimental circumstances, to provide the occasions to put maximum pressure on our concepts3.
- Then again, were our concepts designed to be put on the rack? What would their failure really tell us?
- For a page of Links4 to this Note, Click here.
- Items in the reading lists below are (or at least should be) split between two categories:-
- Theory of TEs, whether related to the philosophy of personal identity, philosophy in general (eg. philosophy of mind), or other areas (eg. science).
- Examples of TEs in action, specifically in the arena of personal identity.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read5, include6 the following:-
- "Baggini (Julian) - Life-and-death thought experiments are correctly unsolvable", Baggini
- "Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity: Preface", Baillie
- "Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity: In Conclusion", Baillie
- "Beck (Simon) - Back To The Self And The Future", Beck
- "Beck (Simon) - Let's Exist Again (Like We Did Last Summer)", Beck
- "Campbell (Scott) - Can You Survive a Brain-Zap", Campbell
- "Cohnitz (Daniel) - Personal Identity and the Methodology of Imaginary Cases", Cohnitz
- "Dainton (Barry) - Self: Philosophy In Transit: Prologue", Dainton
- "Dennett (Daniel) - Where Am I?", Dennett
- "Ehring (Douglas) - Personal Identity and Time Travel", Ehring
- "Gale (Richard) - On Some Pernicious Thought-Experiments", Gale
- "Garrett (Brian) - Personal Identity", Garrett
- "Garrett (Brian) - The Problem (of Personal Identity) and Its Place in Philosophy", Garrett
- "Hershenov (David) - Countering the Appeal of the Psychological Approach to Personal Identity", Hershenov
- "James (Susan) - Feminism in Philosophy of Mind: The Question of Personal Identity", James
- "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings", Johnson
- "Liao (S. Matthew) - The Organism View Defended", Liao
- "Lockwood (Michael) - When Does a Life Begin?", Lockwood
- "Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) - Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands", Marshall & Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Animalism and the Remnant-Person Problem", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Human People Or Human Animals", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - Psychology and Personal Identity", Olson
- "Snowdon (Paul) - The Self and Personal Identity", Snowdon
- "Snowdon (Paul) - Personal Identity and Brain Transplants", Snowdon
- "Sorensen (Roy) - Thought Experiments: Introduction", Sorensen
- "Unger (Peter) - Physically Based Subjects and Their Experiences: Against the Six Metaphysical Doctrines", Unger
- "Wilkes (Kathleen) - Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments", Wilkes
- "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future", Williams
- "Wilson (Jack) - Beyond Horses and Oak Trees: A New Theory of Individuation for Living Entities", Wilson
- A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- "Alexander (Ronald) - A Major Problem With Parfit", Alexander
- "Baillie (James) - Methodology Matters", Baillie
- "Beck (Simon) - Should We Tolerate People Who Split?", Beck
- "Brennan (Andrew) - Survival", Brennan
- "Brown (James Robert) & Fehige (Yiftach) - Thought Experiments", Brown & Fehige
- "Bunzl (Martin) - The Logic of Thought Experiments", Bunzl
- "Cole (David) - Thought and Thought Experiments", Cole
- "Coleman (Stephen) - Thought Experiments and Personal Identity", Coleman
- "Haggqvist (Soren) - Thought Experiments In Philosophy", Haggqvist
- "Harris (Henry) - An Experimentalist Looks at Identity", Harris
- "Horowitz (Tamara) - Philosophical intuitions and psychological theory", Horowitz
- "Horowitz (Tamara) & Massey (Gerald J.) - Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy", Horowitz & Massey
- "Kolak (Daniel) - The Metaphysics and Metapsychology of Personal Identity: Why Thought Experiments Matter in Deciding Who We Are", Kolak
- "Nichols (Shaun) & Bruno (Michael) - Intuitions about Personal Identity: An Empirical Study", Nichols & Bruno
- "Snowdon (Paul) - Strengthening the Rejection of Transplant Arguments", Snowdon
- "Sorensen (Roy) - Thought Experiments", Sorensen
- "Sorensen (Roy) - The Cheated God: Death and Personal Time", Sorensen
- "Sturgeon (Scott) - Zombies and Ghosts", Sturgeon
- "Torrengo (Giuliano) & Buonomo (Valerio) - What's next? Time travel and phenomenal continuity", Torrengo & Buonomo
- "Williamson (Timothy) - Philosophical Expertise and the Burden of Proof", Williamson
- "Williamson (Timothy) - Thought Experiments", Williamson
- "Zuboff (Arnold) - Moment Universals and Personal Identity", Zuboff
- This is mostly a place-holder7.
In-Page FootnotesFootnote 1:
- A number of my philosophical Notes are “promissory notes” currently only listing the books and papers (if any) I possess on the topic concerned.
- I’ve decided to add some text – whether by way of motivation, or something more substantive – for all these identified topics related to my Thesis.
- As I want to do this fairly quickly, the text may be confused or show surprising ignorance.
- The reader (if such exists) will have to bear with me, and display the principle of charity while this footnote exists.
- If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
- Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
- There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
- Frequently I’ll have made copious marginal annotations, and sometimes have written up a review-note.
- In the former case, I intend to transfer the annotations into electronic form as soon as I can find the time.
- In the latter case, I will have remarked on the fact against the citation, and will integrate the comments into this Note in due course.
- My intention is to incorporate into these Notes comments on material I’ve already read rather than engage with unread material at this stage.
- I may have read others in between updates of this Note – in which case they will be marked as such in the “References and Reading List” below.
- Papers or Books partially read have a rough %age based on the time spent versus the time expected.
Live Version of this Archived Note
Table of the 5 Earlier Versions of this Note
Summary of Notes Links from this Page
To access information, click on one of the links in the table above (if any).
Summary of Note Links to this Page
To access information, click on one of the links in the table above (if any).
Text Colour Conventions
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020