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Personal Identity - Research - Proposal

The topic1 I wish to research2 is “Personal Identity”, with the focus3,4,5,6 on the ontology7 of, and persistence criteria for, human persons8 and related sortals9. Since it is a contingent fact that all existents that are universally agreed to be persons are members of the species homo sapiens10, we must start with human beings in deciding what persons are.

I will scrutinise certain basic assumptions that I accept. Firstly, that the “identity” involved in personal identity is the ordinary logical notion11. Secondly, that some form of physicalism12 in the philosophy of mind is true and central to the topic. Thirdly, while it is analytic that survival involves identity, that what matters in survival13 is both physical14 & psychological15 continuity16.

In considering what a person is, I will need to consider somatic17, forensic18 and psychological19 issues, and, in particular, focus on self-consciousness20 and the first-person perspective21. I will need to consider semantic and conceptual22 issues as well as ontological issues.

I will focus on two views, namely Animalism23 and the Constitution View24. I must consider just what Baker and others mean by “constitution”, and evaluate the cogency of the supposedly knock-down “too many minds” argument25 that Olson and others have raised against it.

Key questions are whether or not the concept of a person is a natural kind concept26, and whether the various views take persons sufficiently seriously27. That is, are persons no more than phase sortals28 of certain animals29 or are they ontological novelties, as Baker suggests?

I will consider the usual problem cases, whether obtained from clinical observation30 or thought experiment31, including brain transplant, fission32, fusion33, duplication34, replication35 and metamorphosis36. In particular, I want to compare forward37 and backward psychological continuity and the role of normal causality38 in preserving identity. However, I need to consider whether all talk of first-person perspectives depends on a, presumably non-existent, Cartesian Ego39.

Since I’m particularly averse to “closest continuer”40 theories, I am tempted by four-dimensionalism41 and shared person-stages as a solution to some of the paradoxes where, otherwise, awkward choices have to be made. Since there are acknowledged difficulties for the perdurantist in not being able to count42 tokens of persons and other sortals, I need to address the attempted solutions43.44

I conclude this document (by way of an end-note) by considering the thought experiment of teletransportation45 to rehearse the key issues. I would need to repeat this exercise for all the favourites, including Unger’s Siliconisation46 and Williams’s backup/restore47.48

Note last updated: 26/09/2007 20:41:17


Footnote 1: (Background)

This study originated as a discussion document for my first (and only) tutorial when I was registered for the MPhilStud in 2005. I’ve resurrected it as a research proposal, and added a fair amount of material, but the notes probably attempt too much at this stage. Additionally, I’ve forgotten where the references are from, and haven’t had time to hunt them out. The first few pages are probably important in the context of my current application. The notes are very much “work in progress”. I’ve removed all the acknowledgements of muddle that appeared in the immediately previous edition, but they are to be understood passim.

Note last updated: 12/08/2007 10:17:46


Footnote 2: (Research - Internet Technology)

Another of my interests is a metaphilosophical project to use internet technology in the service of philosophy. Already in this little document I have felt the need for many levels of footnoting. I wish to use this course of study as an experiment in implementing some ideas and developing some technology that’s easy to use and freely available. It strikes me that any philosophical proposition is embedded in a host of other propositions held dear by its espouser, or depends on reasoning that's difficult to display in print. Cascading hyperlinks, contextual pop-ups and the like come to mind as potential aids to lucidity. Making such functions easy to generate and maintain would be difficult, so I see some prototyping coming along as part of my PhD scratch-work. Maybe the whole idea depends on epistemological foundationalism, but I think it’s consistent with coherentism. Either way, it would rather mercilessly expose one's ignorance and biases. I understand that the thesis will have to be written up traditionally.

Note last updated: 12/08/2007 10:17:46


Footnote 3: (Research - Focus)

Vastly more will be researched and written up than can be included in a 70,000-word thesis, though maybe some of this surfeit can be included in a book and in the above-mentioned internet site.

The issues in general philosophy that will require investigation in support of this research include:-

  • Concepts
  • Causation
  • Change
  • Consciousness
  • Free Will5
  • Intuition and Thought Experiments
  • Modality7
  • Natural Kinds
  • Psychopathology9
  • Substance
  • Time11
  • Vagueness12
  • Etc ….
Additionally, this project overlaps somewhat with a more ambitious one in the Philosophy of Religion13.

Note last updated: 12/08/2007 10:17:46


Footnote 3.5: (Free Will)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 5:
  • 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.
Footnote 6:
  • 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.
Footnote 7:
  • I’ve restricted the list almost exclusively to books, and not all of those in the categorised reading list are included!

Note last updated: 19/02/2018 00:40:19


Footnote 3.7: (Modality)

Plug Note1

  • Modality – the logic of possibility and necessity – is important to my thesis because discussions of Personal Identity often range over possible – rather than merely actual – events that an individual may encounter and which may call that individual’s continued existence into doubt.
  • This is particularly the case with the numerous popular thought experiments (TEs), one of which – Teletransportation – has a link to this Note (the bungled duplication case, and what this has to say about the standard singular case).
  • Modality also features in the arguments over the logic of identity – in particular the standard view that Identity is a necessary relation, contra the heretical positions.
  • I doubt I need to get into Modal Realism (Lewis) or other discussions about what modality reduces to ontologically.
  • The same goes for the intricacies of Modal Logic, though a quick read through "Girle (Rod) - Modal Logics and Philosophy" might be beneficial.
  • I need to review my old notes on "Kripke (Saul) - Naming and Necessity".
  • The topic found its way into an early note on the Focus of my research, but didn’t find its way into Chapter 4, which deals with basic metaphysical issues. Maybe it should be there?
  • "Sturgeon (Scott) - Zombies and Ghosts" has a useful categorisation of types of modality, and their relation to conceivability and genuine possibility.
  • There are lots of books and papers in the reading list below, but I suppose the following are the ones to start with:-
    1. "Hale (Bob) - Modality", Hale, 1997
    2. "Hawley (Katherine) - Modality", Hawley, 2004
    3. "Jubien (Michael) - Modality", Jubien, 1997
    4. "MacBride (Fraser), Ed. - Identity and Modality", MacBride, 2006
    5. "Melia (Joseph) - Modality", Melia, 2003 and
    6. "Williamson (Timothy) - Armchair Philosophy, Metaphysical Modality and Counterfactual Thinking", Williamson, 2005.
  • This is a place-holder. See the categorised reading-list below.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 14/01/2017 20:18:14


Footnote 3.9: (Psychopathology)

Plug Note1

  • Psychopathological cases are useful as real-life thought experiments for teasing out issues in the topic of personal identity, as in psychology generally.
  • The underlying assumption is that pathological cases have lessons for the general non-pathological case.
  • It is somewhat moot – though maybe not hugely relevant to my concerns – just what conditions count as pathological. Not everyone agrees that the latest edition of DSM3 has it right, as many social and political factors enter into the choices.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read4, include5 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 3: Footnote 4:
  • 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.
Footnote 5:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 3.11: (Time)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 11: Footnote 12: Footnote 13: Footnote 14: Footnote 15:

Note last updated: 21/09/2017 00:10:05


Footnote 3.12: (Vagueness)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 7:
  • In this case, with some overlap with the notes just noted!
  • 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.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.
Footnote 9:
  • So, I’ve selected the standard reader and papers / chapters by my favourite authors that might be included under other topics.
Footnote 10:
  • In particular, those covered under the Notes on Vague and Indeterminate Identity, or in the “already read” list above.

Note last updated: 17/01/2018 13:43:41


Footnote 3.13: (Religion)

Plug Note1

  • This Note doesn’t directly relate to my studies in the Philosophy of Religion, which has its own set of pages on my website, and quarterly Status Report.
  • Rather this Note has to do with the – historical and contemporary – ways in which religious questions and commitments have influenced philosophers in their discussions of personal identity.
  • I disagree fundamentally with philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga that belief in God is “epistemologically basic”, but claim that philosophy asks questions that are prior to any others, except metaphilosophical questions3.
  • Locke’s thoughts on personal identity were initially motivated by worries about the metaphysics of Resurrection, theodicy and other forensic concerns.
  • I’ve noted elsewhere contemporary Christian Materialist Philosophers8 and their thoughts on the topic of personal identity.
  • I’ve not yet made much of a study of Jewish views where these diverge from Christian views.
  • No doubt Muslim philosophers have similar concerns and motivations, but I have not investigated them (yet).
  • I have, however, had a brief look at Hindu and Buddhist thought on the topic of Reincarnation and Karma.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read11, include12 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 3:
  • Which are also philosophical, so part of philosophy itself.
Footnote 8:
  • The Note on Christian Materialism also references other contemporary philosophers with Christian affiliation, and their thoughts on personal identity.
Footnote 11:
  • 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.
Footnote 12:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 4: (Research - Distractions)

While I’m admitting to potential distractions, I must mention another, which is to get an MSc in mathematics by the time I’m 60. While this wouldn’t start until I’d completed my PhD, a fair amount of “warming up” would be required in parallel. I'd like to do some philosophy of mathematics one day, but my handling of the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos was a complete disaster, so abject that I'm in need of some rehabilitation (on the grounds that those that can’t do shouldn’t philosophise). I'd been tempted to return to chess and bridge, but these are fundamentally a waste of time, and I'm hopeful that mathematics (pursued at a much more leisurely pace than the cracking one Cambridge required of its unfortunate undergraduates) might press the same buttons. Maybe being good at mathematics (in the "Cambridge" sense), like being able to play the violin in tune, is just a special skill that some people have and others can never acquire; and that if you don't have it, you should just concentrate on the talents you do have. What worries me is that philosophy is much less constrained by the merciless exposure of falsehoods or rewarded by the discovery of certain truths, and that the discipline of mathematics might be a good foil. Yet people who've excelled in both mathematics and philosophy (eg. Pascal, Leibniz, Russell) don’t seem to have treated philosophy as a poor relation. The two disciplines involve, however, completely different ways of thinking - from the narrowest to the widest possible focus.

Note last updated: 12/08/2007 10:17:46


Footnote 5: (Thesis - Method & Form)

Form of the Argument

  1. The thesis will present an abductive argument (as in my BA Dissertation “Poverty of Stimulus Arguments for Innate Grammar”), that is, an inference to the best explanation of the data.
  2. That’s why I have to consider so many aspects of the subject, so many thought experiments and so much clinical2 data. Into which story does it all best fit?
  3. I may have to reject some recalcitrant thought experiments as ill-formed, but I do not wish to ignore anything significant.
  4. For some time, I have considered Animalism as the most likely account of what human beings are, and I propose this thesis to evaluate the arguments for and against it, using the rival “Constitution View” as a foil.

Method
  • Over the years I have read a lot of books and papers on the topic of Personal Identity.
    1. For some, I have made extensive on-line write-ups.
    2. For others, the write-up is incomplete, or sketchy.
    3. For yet others, I have (more or less) extensively annotated the margin (in so doing ruining many an expensive volume!).
    4. Finally, some have simply been read (and probably forgotten).
  • I have also written numerous Notes on almost every aspect of the subject, though many of them are place-holders awaiting filling-out. These Notes link to the Books and Papers, either explicitly or thematically, and to one another.
  • Follow this Link4 for an explanation of the various Objects in my Research database, though the Note needs updating in the light of changes since 2010.
  • All this has resulted in a huge unfocussed cobweb of material, which needs to be subjected to some order and completeness. This has started by outlining the Chapters of the Thesis5, and specifying the limited subset of the problem I intend to address in detail.
  • For most Chapters, my approach to producing the first draft of the Chapter will be as follows:-
    1. Determine which Notes that I have written are relevant to this Chapter.
    2. Fill out any Note-place-holders with whatever’s in my head!
    3. Use the reading lists associated with these Notes to establish a limited reading list for the Chapter.
    4. Review whatever I’ve written, in whatever format, on the items in the derived reading lists, and make necessary cosmetic changes in the process of evaluating the items.
    5. Segregate6 this reading list into:-
      … Higher versus lower priority,
      … Read versus unread,
      … Annotated (by hand) versus unannotated
      … Those with an Abstract or Note Write-up versus those without
    6. Cull items that are unlikely to be addressed in the next two years and list them as specifically excluded. I may pick up on these at a later stage of the project, but in the short term the culling process will be essential for making across-the-board progress.
    7. Determine why the residue are important and relevant – if they are – and briefly document the reasons.
    8. Migrate any Book or Paper Abstracts that I have written (as distinct from copied from elsewhere) to Write-Up Notes.
    9. If the Book or Paper is important enough, migrate any hand-written annotations to a Write-Up Note, and complete any important incomplete Write-Up Notes.
    10. Write and maintain a Chapter Summary, motivating and summarising the Chapter. Use this to ensure I don’t get side-tracked.
    11. Incorporate the key points of Write-Up Notes into the Topic Notes.
    12. Incorporate the highest level thoughts from the Topic Notes into the Main Text of the Chapter.
  • In principle, these actions should be effected in number sequence, though there will be some iteration, particularly with the last point, which presents my research findings in their most accessible form for outside interested parties.
  • There are many important papers that are on the reading lists that I have not read. At this stage, I do not intend to read them until I have processed all those papers that I have read. This will require discipline!
  • Most of the “detailed working” of the Chapter should be retained in the topic Notes and Write-ups. The Chapter should be fairly high-level at this stage, with hyperlinks to more detailed or supportive work.
  • I need to have some method of evidencing how far along this trial I have got for each Chapter, but this can wait until there is some progress to report.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 2: I am unsure how much of this I have actually attended to – but it is important to keep it in mind.

Footnote 6: I need to develop a method for this – one probably variable depending on the length of the list.

Note last updated: 22/07/2014 22:23:31


Footnote 5.4: (Website Generator Documentation - Database Objects)

Most of the papers in this website are made up of hyperlinked Notes, which are small sections of text which themselves link to other Notes, and so on. Such documents are supposed to be viewed on-line, but I recognise that not everyone likes to read in this way. In particular, while this is a good way of chasing up details of an argument, it can be difficult to see the overall picture. It is also difficult to scribble in the margins of a web-page. So, printable versions will be required until technology for marginal annotation improves (but note that you can copy and paste my printable versions into MS Word and annotate those if you want to save trees).

There are several parameters (explained below) that are accounted for in the file-name of the printed Note:-

  1. The depth of scan.
  2. Whether the Printed Note is archived.
  3. Whether all inter-Note references are indicated.
  4. Whether Private Notes are printed.
  5. Whether Reading Lists are included.
There are, in general, hyperlinks to an appropriate selection of printable Notes that satisfy these options.

Within the printable note itself, there are no “inter-Note” hyperlinks, though the links to external websites and to Book and Paper summaries within the reading lists work.

A straight print of a frames-based page only prints the first page, which is why most professional sites have printable versions of their pages to allow printing of the full document, and without the other frames interfering. My printable pages do this, of course, but the main difficulty is to print the footnotes (pages hyperlinked to within the site: I don't make any attempt to print the results of linking to external sites).

Printing all the footnotes associated with the main Note precisely once in a sensible sequence is a particular challenge. This is firstly because (intentionally or otherwise) a referential loop may occur. Secondly, we don't want to print the same note more than once if it is referred to on multiple occasions (which is part of the point of having separable notes in the first place). Finally, we don't necessarily want to print Notes when they first appear, but in some sort of sensible sequence.

Depth of Scan
To address the first of these problems, I have introduced a depth of scan, so that we don't loop endlessly. This also allows topics to be looked at in greater or lesser depth. Consequently, several printed Notes may appear for the same underlying Note. Also, where a Note in another Notes Group is referenced, I only print the Note itself, not its footnotes. This is to avoid the printed Notes ballooning with irrelevancies.

Inter-Note Referencing
Secondly, I only print footnotes once within any particular printed Note. There are two options. In the first, all the footnote indicators appear as in the on-screen version as superscripts (subscripts in the case of private notes which don’t appear on the published website), but those that are duplicated refer forward or backward to where the footnote actually appears. Since this can lead to a lot of clutter in certain circumstances, I have an alternative view whereby (for a footnote that's "not printed here") both the subscript / superscript and the “Note forwarding Note” are omitted. There are then gaps in the sequencing of the superscripts. I’ve decided to leave this in to alert the reader to the existence of the omitted references. The alternative “all footnotes showing” view can be consulted it required.

The referencing convention is effectively the Tractatus standard, but with full-stops separating the level of references. So, the 5th footnote on the main form appears as Footnote 5: (Title); the 3rd footnote on that note appears as Footnote 5.3: (Title2); the 7th footnote on that note as Footnote 5.3.7 (Title3); and so on.

Deciding when to print a Note is an art in itself. Currently all I do is print the Note in the place in which it appears as high up the hyperlinking hierarchy as possible. I ought probably to take into account the fact that each Note has encoded a “Natural” parent, and print it below that parent where possible; but I’ve not done this yet.

Archived Notes
The Notes pages are dynamic, but each time a Note is changed, the previous version is archived and can be accessed by a hyperlink at the bottom of the Note. This version crystallises the view at that time (ie. all the Notes linked-to from that archived Note are the currently latest archived versions; to achieve this, a Note is archived as soon as it is entered. The printable versions follow this pattern, and earlier versions archived whenever the main Note is changed (this is still work in progress as I can’t store printable versions of all Notes, to any depth, each time anything within range changes. Or at least I don’t think so.)

Private Notes
There are two “privacy” systems in operation. The first allows me to flag a Note as private, in which case a polite message appears on the public site. The second method is to put the Note in a password-protected area. I have a flag that allows printed Notes to include or exclude “flagged as Private” Notes. I think a Note in the secure area would print if it were referred to by a Note from a non-Secure area.

Reading Lists
Some Notes have associated reading lists. These arise either because the Note (or a referenced Note within the depth of scan) directly references a Book or Paper, or indirectly via the association between the Note Title, and the Sub-Topic of the Books and Papers. A list of papers (together with hyperlinks to the Paper or Book summaries within the website is produced. This element is currently under development, as the lists (in author sequence) are very long. Currently, a reference appears if it is directly cited, or priority 1-3 within the first level of hyperlinking, or priority 1 below that. Consequently, I’ve allowed the Notes to be printed with or without reading lists.

Note that all this is an on-going research project.

Note last updated: 13/01/2015 19:07:41


Footnote 5.5: (Thesis - Outline)

The Thesis seems to fall naturally into three sections (other than the Introduction and Conclusion); namely, Chapters 2-5 (setting up the problem), chapters 6-9 (Olson and Baker’s views contrasted); and Chapters 10-11 (testing the preferred solution). Consequently, I anticipate my Thesis having the following chapters:-

  1. Chapter 01: Introduction
  2. Chapter 02: What are We?
  3. Chapter 03: What is a Person?
  4. Chapter 04: Basic Metaphysical Issues
  5. Chapter 05: Persistence and Time
  6. Chapter 06: Animalism and Arguments for It
  7. Chapter 07: The Constitution View and Arguments for It
  8. Chapter 08: Arguments against Animalism
  9. Chapter 09: Arguments against the Constitution View
  10. Chapter 10: Thought Experiments
  11. Chapter 11: Resurrection
  12. Chapter 12: Conclusion
I’ve started a Note listing “parked” future reading.

For convenience, brief abstracts (as currently intended) of the above chapters are given below. I have included hyperlinks in the above list to my initial thoughts on these topics (and to reading lists and plans for further research) by way of further clarification. I’ve also included links from the “Thought Experiment” abstract below, for the same reason. The reading lists are rather full, and I’ll need to whittle them down to those I actually intend to read (and, better, address).

Chapter abstracts
  1. Introduction: Something like this document, but in narrative form, maybe including a brief historical general survey of Personal Identity.
  2. What are We? : The topic “personal identity” has historically presupposed that we are (in the sense of “identical to”, or “most fundamentally”) persons, whereas I (along with other animalists) claim that we are identical to human animals. “We” requires explanation. This chapter will sort out the topic of discussion for the Thesis as a whole.
  3. What is a Person?: This Chapter will canvass the various views and consider how important issues in this area are to my main concern of our identity.
  4. Basic Metaphysical Issues: Substances and sortals are central to the persistence of anything, and in particular to my claim that persons are phase sortals of human animals (the substances). I need to address the concept of a SOUL as souls are the major counter-claim to the persisting entity being an animal; or at least popularly so. The question of Natural Kinds arises in considering whether PERSON is a natural kind concept.
  5. Persistence and Time: A number of thought experiments that feature in the following chapter seem to fail if perdurantism is true (because the reduplication objections fail). Depending on whether any of these are critical to my arguments, I may need to consider the impact of perdurantism. But this complex area may be a step too far within a fairly limited word-count. I’m also unsure whether it should feature before or after the account of Thought Experiments.
  6. Animalism and Arguments for it: This Chapter describes what Animalism is, with an excursus on animals and organisms and their persistence. It puts forward the arguments in favour of animalism, those against being reserved for a later Chapter. It focuses on the account of Eric Olson, the primary contemporary exponent of Animalism.
  7. The Constitution View and Arguments for it: This Chapter gives an account of Lynne Rudder Baker’s thesis that human persons are not identical to human animals, but are – temporarily at least – constituted by them.
  8. Arguments against Animalism: A discussion of the arguments against animalism, as given by those of anti-animalist persuasion and defended by the principal animalists (with a focus on Olson), with a critique.
  9. Arguments against the Constitution View: A discussion of the arguments against the Constitution View, focusing on the principal animalists, with a critique. In particular, I intend to critique Olson’s “thinking animal” argument against the Constitution View (though I think this argument is unnecessary for Olson to establish the case for Animalism).
  10. Thought Experiments: Any account of personal identity needs to give an account of what is going on in the various thought experiments that have been thought relevant to the topic. It’s also the area that’s most fun. Indeed, I think that the entire Thesis will be an exercise in inference to the best explanation. It needs to account for our intuitions (if there is a universal response) or explain them away as confused. I will firstly briefly consider the propriety of using thought experiments in this domain of enquiry, and then consider the usual suspects, such as:
    • Fission, fusion and replication in general
    • Commissurotomy
    • Multiple Personality Disorder
    • Brain-state Transfer
    • Brain Transplants
    • Teletransportation
    • Siliconisation
    • Etc?
  11. Resurrection: If mind-body substance dualism is false, and we are identical to human animals, then the only possibility for post-mortem existence is some form of bodily resurrection. Since the body is destroyed at death, it would seem that any resurrected individual could only be a copy of the original. It might think of itself as the resurrected pre-mortem individual, but it would be wrong. Consideration of arguments by Peter Van Inwagen in this respect. This chapter is likely to be controversial, so needs to be very carefully argued, and factually correct concerning what is actually believed by intellectually Christians and Muslims (unlike what seems to be the case with most swipes against religion). Maybe I should also cover reincarnation.
  12. Conclusion: Brief summary of the above;
    • We are human animals,
    • Human persons fall under phase sortals of the concept HUMAN ANIMAL,
    • The person is inseparable from the animal,
    • The animal is utterly destroyed at death,
    • Substance dualism is false, and
    • Consequently (given the sort of thing we are) resurrection or any other post-mortem survival is impossible for us.

Note last updated: 24/04/2018 00:12:58


Footnote 6: (Thesis - Current Stance)

The purpose of this Note is to provide a periodic refocusing of what my thoughts and beliefs about the topic of Personal Identity currently are. Previous versions can be found from the list below. This version has links to the various other Notes that expand further on the issues raised, and supply extensive reading lists. While very often these Notes are of the “promissory” variety, the links will remind me to improve them as needed.

  1. What are we? This is one of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves. Just what kind of things are we? The question is closely related to a similar one: just what sort of adventures can individuals such as ourselves survive? This second question sheds light on the first for if there are certain contingencies that we think we would – or would not – survive, when a typical member of that kind would not – or would – survive, then that kind may not represent what we really think we are. Of course, we might be wrong in our estimations, but at least this will raise the question.
  2. Why is this not a trivial question? If we look at a dog, say, and ask what it is, the answer to such a question is obvious – it’s a dog! It may be our pet – with a name – a particular individual, but when we ask what kind of thing it is, it’s a member of the species canis lupus. So, when we look at ourselves, the obvious answer is that we are human beings – specifically human animals, members of the species homo sapiens. That is the answer posited by the Animalists, amongst whose number – broadly speaking – I place myself, who accept the biological view7 of personal identity.
  3. If this is true, then our persistence conditions – the necessary and sufficient conditions for us to continue in existence – are the same as those of other animals – the great apes, say, under which category we fall, biologically speaking. Why is this not the end of the story? Well, this is because – despite being a species of great ape – human beings are special in that we have enhanced cognitive capacities. We are morally accountable. In sum, we are persons, and have a “first person perspective” (FPP) on the world – something most philosophers deny to other animals – and care about our futures and – wantons apart – agonise over our past mistakes. Lynne Rudder Baker claims this perspective makes an ontological difference, rather than being – as I think – a special property of human beings that may or may not be had in particular cases. Baker accuses the animalists of not taking persons seriously. I might just note that there’s a facile and confusing answer to what we are, that is “people”. You may have noticed that I used the technical term “persons” as the plural of “person”. Some philosophers annoyingly use the term “people”, but this confuses the issue. When we say there are ten people in the room, while it is clear in normal circumstances what we mean – dogs don’t count, for instance – but if there happened to be a Klingon and a visiting angel, would they count as people or not? They are – we may suppose – persons, but they are not human persons
  4. Since at least John Locke, this fact of our mental exceptionalism has tempted philosophers to say that it’s our psychological continuity that is more important for our identity-preservation than our physical continuity. This view still has its supporters – not only for those such as Dean Zimmerman and Richard Swinburne who believe in immaterial souls – but for the many who think that psychological continuity and connectedness is constitutive of the identity of persons. It is also implicit in the ideas of the Transhumanists who think that – come the Singularity24 – we might be capable of being uploaded to computers26 and thereby live almost forever27.
  5. Before proceeding further we have to say something brief and sketchy about identity and persistence. “Identity” – in the sense of “numerical identity” – is a relation a thing holds to itself and to nothing else. A is identical to B if A and B are the very same thing. It is an equivalence relation, being transitive, reflexive and idempotent; and, many of the sticking points in the philosophy of personal identity arise from this fact.
    1. It has nothing to do with “identity” as a sociological concept such as national identity, sexual identity or identification with a particular group.
    2. Also, John may be said “not to be the same person” since he took heroin, but he is still John and still the same individual; it’s just that his personality has changed.
    3. It also has nothing to do with “narrative identity31” which is the story we tell about ourselves in an attempt to make sense of our lives.
    4. Finally, it has nothing to do with “exact similarity”: my television may be “identical” to yours, but that doesn’t mean I can have yours if mine breaks. They are – or were, when manufactured – exactly similar, but are distinct.
  6. “Persisting” is what a thing does in continuing in existence. As we noted above, there are what are called “persistence conditions” – specific to a kind of thing – that set out what vicissitudes a thing can survive if it is to remain that very same thing. There are sometimes hard cases, and there can seem sometimes that there is an element of convention: is a particular club still the same clubs after it has lost all its original members, changed its name, and so on? But we can’t accept that our own existence is a matter of convention, though this could seem the case with the once-dominant psychological view of personal identity: just how much psychological connection could I lose with my former self – philosophers wondered – and still be me? However, things seem simpler and more objective for organisms, which persist despite exchanging material with the environment and changing many of their properties, provided they are caught up in a complex and hopefully long drawn-out event (or process) known as a “life36”.
  7. In the above I have assumed at least three things.
    1. Firstly, that “things” – or at least some things – exist. There’s a philosophical position known as “Process Metaphysics37” (or “Naturalised Metaphysics”) that gives the focus to process rather than ontology, particularly in the case of organisms. I’m not sure how fatal this is to my approach, since I admit that animals are individuated by their lives, which are processes.
    2. Secondly, that we exist. This would seem hardly worth mentioning, other than that certain philosophers – nihilists – have argued that we (whatever we are) or – for similar reasons – various common things like hands – don’t exist.
    3. Finally, I assume that things do indeed persist, at least some of the time.
    I can’t really address these foundational issues here, but will just say a few words on the second issue. There are a lot of interconnected issues to do with the philosophy of time and change, in particular the problem of temporary intrinsics39. How can the leaf that was green yesterday be the same leaf if it is brown today? How can the old bald bloke I am today be the same individual as the hirsute teenager all those years ago?
    1. Some philosophers – the exdurantists – say that there’s no relation of identity across time, but merely a weaker counterpart relation analogous to that between an individual and its counterpart in another possible world.
    2. Others – in particular Derek Parfit – have said that even if there is identity across time, it’s not what matters.
    In what follows, I assume that we exist and that we continue to exist self-identically across time and that this identity relation is important. We could not carry on our lives without these assumptions even if – philosophically-speaking – they were false; but I think they are true: I don’t want to distinguish the “strict and philosophical” from the “loose and popular” senses of identity first raised by Joseph Butler. I also assume the standard logic of identity and reject all heretical accounts that are invented from time to time as radical solutions to the difficult questions of persistence. In particular, I reject the view – known as occasional identity that – while (say) I am not identical to my younger self – yet I was that person, just not any more.
  8. Now back to the main thread. Most Anglophone philosophers these days are physicalists (though maybe most non-philosophers are unreflective dualists). This gives physicalist philosophers a problem if they have hopes of post-mortem survival. If the human organism is totally destroyed – eg. by cremation, explosion, or eating of worms – just how does the very same individual get from this life to the next49? Christian Materialists have had a go at thinking this through, and acknowledge the difficulties. Peter Van Inwagen attempted to show that it is at least logically possible by having God snatch away the dying body immediately pre-mortem, replacing it with a simulacrum. Dean Zimmerman – while himself a dualist – has suggested a “falling elevator” model to help out his materialist friends, whereby there is immanent causation (by some unknown natural or supernatural process) between the dying body and the resurrection one so that the dying individual escapes in the nick of time to the next world without loss of numerical identity. Others claim that God’s omnipotence is sufficient and is sovereign even over the laws of logic, so that problems raised by identity being an equivalence relation can be overcome by brute force. Maybe so, but without the constraints of logical possibility, we have no way of arguing the matter, so let’s not bother.
  9. However, most Christian materialists prefer an alternative. They recognise that getting from here to the next world with temporal or spatial gaps raises difficult questions as to whether the numerical identity of the individual is preserved but adopt an alternative solution – the Constitution View. On this thesis, the person is distinct from the human animal – “just as” the statue56 is distinct from its constituting marble – so that the very same person – tagged by the unique “first person perspective” noted above – can be constituted first by its earthly body, and subsequently by its heavenly one.
  10. Some Animalists have what they think of as a knock-down argument against the Constitution View. Eric Olson calls it the “Thinking Animal” argument. If the person and the animal are distinct things, albeit co-located, there are too many thinkers – because the animal can certainly think, as can the person, so we have two thinkers where we thought we had one – which is one problem; and there’s another – how do we know which we are, the person or the animal? I’m not impressed by this argument. There are several “multiple occupancy” conundrums that have been claimed at one time or another to deny the existence of things we are sure do exist. Dion and Theon, Tib and Tibbles, the “problem of the many61” and so on. We just need to sort out our rules for counting. Also, the whole question of three- versus four-dimensionalism (4D) – whether a persisting thing is wholly present at a time – or whether only a temporal part is present, the thing as a whole being a “space-time worm” – bears on the question of counting. If different things can share stages – say the person and the human animal, or the statue and the clay – then we have to be careful how we count. In the case of a future fission – whereby two space-time worms share their past stages, but will ultimately diverge – we might not know how many to count at a time, but this will often not matter for practical purposes.
  11. I think the idea of a first-person perspective is important. It is this that provides the pull against animalism when linked to various thought experiments (TEs) that we’ll come on to presently. However, I still don’t like the Constitution View. My objection is that the FPP is a property of something else – like a smile – in this case of a human animal, though the smile might belong to a cat. You can’t take the very same smile from one cat and place on another (it would be at best an exactly similar smile) – let alone have a disembodied smile like that of the Cheshire Cat. Similarly, you can’t take the very same FPP from one body and plop it onto another. True, it might be a qualitatively exactly similar FPP, but not the same one. What’s to stop that FPP being plopped on several resurrection bodies? Which would be numerically identical to me, given that they can’t all be, in the absence of 4D?
  12. What are the temptations for not sticking with the animalist approach – which ought these days to be the default position in the absence of anything more compelling? As noted, the apparent lack of rational expectation of an afterlife is one incentive to look elsewhere, so “elsewhere” is a favourite for those who can’t bear the thought of their selves expiring with their bodies. We’ve noted the Christian dualists and materialists, but what about the Transhumanists? There’s the relatively metaphysically uninteresting case of cryoscopy followed by repair and resuscitation; there we have material continuity, and no possibility of reduplication, though some might claim there is too much outside interference for identity to be preserved. But, what about the “hope” of “you” being uploaded to a computer? There seems to be an idea about that “we” are really software (or data), when we are clearly material beings. If we are software, it is said, then we might “run” on different hardware. I have two issues with this, apart from the immense technical obstacles to be overcome both in “scanning” the “real you” and providing a computer of sufficient power to run your program and the virtual world for you to experience, Matrix-like.
    1. Firstly, what sort of thing is a program? It’s an interesting question whether a program has persistence conditions. Is Windows 10 the same program as Windows 0? Whatever the answer to this question is, a program would seem to be a kind of universal70 rather than a particular, and “we” are particulars.
    2. This leads to the second issue – a reduplication objection. Say we developed a sophisticated program that could run on an open-ended number of exactly similar robots. No two of these would be numerically identical to one another – they would be distinct, though exactly similar. So, were the program to be a simulation of your brain, it could run – presumably – on an open-ended number of computers – and these computers (or computer partitions) would not be identical to one another, so none of them could be you, as you could only be one of them, and there’s no principled way of saying which. The same objection prevents Star Trek-like teletransportation – were it possible – being identity-preserving. I might also add that no “program” is – in itself – conscious, though a machine that runs it might conceivably be. Mind you, there are arguments here as well – originated by John Searle – at least for digital computers.
    Incidentally, the transhumanists seem to imagine unending computer life as a secular heaven, but it could just as easily be a secular hell.
  13. So, I remain wedded to my view that we are human animals with the persistence conditions of such. “Person” is not a substance term, but an honorific that refers to some substance during some periods of its existence when it has the requisite mental and moral properties to qualify. “Person” is a Phase Sortal (like “teacher”) that – in the case of “person” – applies to most humans most of the time, but need not apply to all humans all the time. There are ethical consequences for this view, but they are not as dramatic as is sometimes urged. Non-persons don’t have moral responsibilities, as is already recognised for demented or infant humans, and all non-human animals. The obverse – that persons allegedly have no moral obligations towards non-persons – or that non-persons have no rights – is the sticking point, and ought to be reflected in a more humane treatment of all non-persons rather than that we might contemplate sending human non-persons as well as non-human non-persons to the slaughter-house.
  14. So, what are the problems for animalists? There are several. Some – like the so-called “corpse problem” (is my corpse me – only dead – if not, where does it come from? It doesn’t have the persistence conditions of an organism) are probably relatively easy to overcome. Recently, I’ve discovered that animalists – like (but for different reasons) those who think we are essentially persons – allegedly have a “fetus problem”. Animalists – saying that we are essentially animals – have (it seems) to say that we were once foetuses – which appears to be what our animal once was. But was this fetus once a proper part of its mother? There’s work currently going on to suggest that this is so – and if so, just when did the new human animal come into existence? However, I don’t think any of this seriously threatens animalism. Maybe animalists should have considered the problem more than they have, but animals do come into existence sometime – presumably by the time of birth at the latest – and that’s enough for an animalist.
  15. The real problems for animalism stem from the force of thought experiments such as the “brain transplant intuition”. An animalist seems forced to say that I would not “go with my brain” in the circumstance where my brain is transplanted into another body, when it seems to most people that I would. The alleged reason for this is that at least some animalists consider the brain to be “just another organ” that we might lose like we might lose a kidney, provided the animal is kept alive. Doubts about this have led some to think that we are not “really” whole human animals but proper parts thereof, maybe not brains84 as such, but brains and a few other bits. This does seem comical. Just how large am I – would I fit into a hat-box, as Olson asks?
  16. My view is as follows. I am currently (thankfully) a whole human animal. My wife worked in the NHS with amputees, and I think it is right to say that they also are whole human animals, though they lack parts that most of us have. No doubt they could lose more parts – and some diabetics sadly do. So, we might view a “brain in a vat” – one ready for transplant – as a “maximally mutilated” human animal. Maybe – in the case of a brain transplant – a prior animal has fissioned (divided into two) when the brain is extracted and we now have a case of the fusion of two animals (the brain from one fusing with the body of the other). It might be argued that our identity-logic isn’t quite up to deciding who is who in such circumstances, but the stakes seem high enough to demand an answer, for which read on.
  17. I doubt whether the transhumanist hopes of augmenting our physical or mental attributes by effectively converting us into cyborgs89 is much of a threat to animalism. We don’t worry about our spectacles or our mobiles phones making us any less mammalian. Closer integration with AI applications is only the next step for the extended mind.
  18. So, is there any purchase in thought experiments that putatively have my first person perspective persisting in cases where there is no identity preservation. Could it be the case that “it seems to me” that I have survived some vicissitude – a cerebrum90 transplant, say – but I am mistaken? Some philosophers argue that this happens every night – I go to sleep91, and when I wake up I just assume that I am identical to the individual who got into bed, but how do I know? I might be intellectually convinced by third parties – those other than the sleeper and the waker – one way or another, but how would this affect how it seems to me? Take the teletranportation case. Because of the reduplication objection (unless we are 4-dimensionalists), we should say that numerical identity is not preserved. But – if the technology works, and I am the teletransportee – the individual (or 77 duplicates) would (all) wake up convinced they were me, yet they must be deceived. Thankfully, reduplication is not a problem for whole-brain transplants, but it is for idempotent half-brain transplants, though I think the identity problem there occurs during the fissioning process rather than when the half-brains are implanted.
  19. I continue to think that there is a distinction to be made between forward and backward psychological continuity, though I don’t see how third parties – or even first or second parties – could tell the difference. It makes all the difference to me if I go to sleep and someone else wakes up thinking they are me – as against the normal case where I go to sleep and I wake up. In the former case – for me – there’s just an endless nothingness, of which I know nothing, while in the latter case my experiential life carries on. However, backward psychological continuity – what it feels like looking back – is the same for a survivor and one who only thinks he’s survived.
  20. In the case of the split brain transplant, however, how is it all supposed to work, experientially? Neurosurgery is – even today – carried out on substantially conscious patients, as that way there’s a quick feedback loop to tell the surgeon whether he’s destroying any important areas of cognitive function. What would it be like to “fission”? Maybe I lack the imagination, but it seems to me that my First Person Perspective would go along with whatever was the dominant hemisphere, assuming this “seat of consciousness” is initially located in one hemisphere or the other. If it is not, then it would presumably be destroyed and two new ones would be created in this miracle operation. Either way, this would sit comfortably with the logic of identity which would not be violated, as at most one of the recipients would be me. I can imagine being ripped apart psychologically, but I can’t imagine going two ways.
  21. Of course, there are physical and metaphysical issues with the whole idea of brain transplants – the physical structure of the brain reflects “its” body, and mental faculties are not fully localised, so it’s not just the immensely complex task of “wiring up” the brain to its new body that presents a challenge. Half-brain transplants are even more problematical as in the TEs the brain stem is not split, but only the cerebra are supposed to be transplanted. It’s not clear to me whether there is pervasive confusion here and that these thought experiments are underspecified to the degree of incoherence. Some philosophers – eg. Kathleen Wilkes – think TEs are unhelpful in the philosophy of personal identity, and that our concepts are not up to being probed in this way. I’m not so sure – the TEs are about us, not our concepts.
  22. There is finally the question whether there is any such thing as “the Self”, which is what is supposed to have this FPP. Some contemporary philosophers argue that the Self is an illusion that the brain generates. Others – such as David Hume – have argued; and others – such as Galen Strawson – do argue that when they introspect they find no evidence of a persisting Self. I don’t know where they are coming from, as I can’t think of anything more certain. But a Buddhist-inspired95 “no-self” view makes the animalist’s task easier, if maybe less interesting.

Note last updated: 24/04/2018 22:22:05


Footnote 6.7: (Biological View)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 10/04/2017 23:38:24


Footnote 6.23: (The Singularity)

This Note discusses in detail the somewhat extravagant thoughts in "Grossman (Lev) - 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal". The footnotes in the Abstract for the paper link to the sections in this Note1. It is currently very much work in progress.

  1. Kurzweil:
    • See
      → Wikipedia (Link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Kurzweil)),
      → Kurzweil’s website (Link (http://www.kurzweilai.net/)),
      and much else besides.
    • I seem to have one of Kurzweil’s books – "Kurzweil (Ray) - The Age of Spiritual Machines".
    • This book has been criticised by Searle – see Link (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1999/04/08/i-married-a-computer/). Unfortunately, only the opening section is available for free. But →
    • Kurzweil’s site (Link (http://www.kurzweilai.net/chapter-2-i-married-a-computer)) seems to hold an updated version.
    • Moreovever, there’s an ensuing debate between Searle and Kurzweil, that is fully available on-line at New York Review of Books (Link (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1999/05/20/i-married-a-computer-an-exchange/)). And see my transcripts →
      → "Kurzweil (Ray) - ‘I Married a Computer’: An Exchange (between Ray Kurzweil and John Searle)", and
      → "Searle (John) - ‘I Married a Computer’: An Exchange (between Ray Kurzweil and John Searle)".
    • In fact, Kurtzweil’s site has a bunch of free e-books, ie:-
      → Ray Kurtzweil (Editor) — Are We Spiritual Machines? (Link (http://www.kurzweilai.net/ebooks/are-we-spiritual-machines)). This contains (as Chapter 2) the critique by Searle noted above.
      → Eric Drexler — Engines of Creation 2.0 — The Coming Era of Nanotechnology (Link (http://www.kurzweilai.net/ebooks/engines-of-creation-book-excerpts-features))
      → Ray Kurtzweil — The Age of Intelligent Machines (Link (http://www.kurzweilai.net/ebooks/the-age-of-intelligent-machines))
      → Ray Kurtzweil — The Age of Spiritual Machines (Link (http://www.kurzweilai.net/ebooks/the-age-of-spiritual-machines))
      → Neil Gershenfeld — When Things Start to Think (Link (http://www.kurzweilai.net/ebooks/when-things-start-to-think))
    • I dare say that the substance of the Time article is already well worked-over in Are We Spiritual Machines?
  2. Creativity:
    • There’s presumably a distinction between rules-based creativity, which is what (presumably) computers can do, and creativity of a less constrained sort, that we don’t know how to get computers to do (yet)?
  3. Self:
    • And “self-expression” – facon de parler, in this context? Musical composition seems more a skill than a matter of self-expression (as would be a literary composition). I can’t see why a sense of self would be necessary for creative composition in either music or the graphic arts. Certain Idiot Savants are no doubt adept in these areas, despite autistic tendencies, that mitigate against a sense of self.
    • What I have to say on Selves should be under
      Self, and
      Self-Consciousness,
      Though I don’t seem to have said anything yet.
  4. Intelligence and Consciousness:
    • There’s a sharp distinction between intelligence and consciousness.
    • As far as we know, consciousness is the preserve of organic intelligence.
    • We can presume that lots of rather dim animals are phenomenally conscious (even if not self-conscious → this distinction is important) so, there’s no link between getting smarter and smarter and then (as a result) getting phenomenally conscious.
    • I’m not sure of the link between intelligence and self-consciousness.
    • There’s an old Time article “Can Machines Think?” – stimulated by the Kasparov vs Deep Blue chess match (at Link (http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,984304,00.html)).
  5. Imminence of the “Singularity” :
    • This is predicated on the assumption of continued exponential growth. It’s a standard principle in scientific practice to be suspicious of exponentials, at least when they are unprincipled – ie. where there is no underlying theory that would lead us to expect them.
    • Also, as noted elsewhere in this discussion, the occurrence of the Singularity relies on the achievement of numerous conceptual and technological breakthroughs that we have no warrant for assuming will happen any time soon.
  6. Human Civilization:
    • So far, computers have only enhanced human civilisation.
    • “Ending” human civilisation (“as we know it”) depends on delivering (in an uncontrolled manner) the various promissory-notes of the Time article.
  7. Faster Faster:
    • Is this really the case that the rate of improvement in computing power is accelerating, and will it really continue to accelerate indefinitely, if it is so doing currently?
    • Note that Kurzweil's graph muddles together speed and cost. See the comments below.
  8. Emulation: Two points here.
    • Firstly, emulation isn’t the real thing. Models of hurricanes aren’t wet and windy, so why should emulations of consciousness be conscious?
    • Secondly, digital computers are serial devices in which the components are (now) very quick, and brains are massively parallel devices whose components are very slow. Why should simulating one by the other produce the same (phenomenal) effect, and even be possible at all?
  9. Intelligent Actions:
    • The items on the list (“driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties”) can all (presumably) be rules-based and situation-driven. No doubt this is true of human intelligence as well (ultimately) but modelling it is not straightforward, as we don’t know how the brain does it. The issue isn’t really (in this case) to do with “whether”, but “when”, as there are lots of major breakthroughs required before the promissory note can be delivered on. Also, all these functions can be delivered unconsciously (if they can be delivered at all).
  10. Smart people:
    • Does it matter how smart they are? Lots of equally smart people don’t share the optimism of the futurologists.
  11. Increasingly Powerful Computers:
    • Are there really no reasons to doubt that their onward exponential growth is really never going to end? Miniaturisation of components has to stop soon due to QM effects. So, a radically-new technology is needed. Some ideas are there, but we might get “stuck” on their delivery, as has been the case for controlled nuclear fusion (Link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power#Current_status)), which in the 1950s was expected soon, in the 1970s by 2000 and in 2006 “not within 100 years”.
    • There’s no doubt that computers will continue to get more powerful, as hardware and software continues to improve, as it always will. The issue is really over the rate of change (can exponential growth continue indefinitely) and can certain conceptual breakthroughs be made?
  12. Bootstrapped Development:
    • This is certainly an important point, as we certainly use computers to help manufacture computers. But the extrapolation to development may involve the solution of the real “machine creativity” problem.
  13. Prediction:
    • Is this true? It would be true if machines became “smarter” than humans in every dimension of “smartness”. But “unpredictability” (ie. non-rules-based) is one of the aspects of machine-intelligence yet to be delivered by AI.
    • Also, this argument sounds a bit like the “you can’t know the mind of God” (at all) arguments, which may or may not be sound.
  14. Cyborgs:
    • This sounds a more promising approach than simulation, and it’d relieve computers from having to realise consciousness. But any cognitive interlinking would still require a fuller understanding of how the brain works than is currently on the horizon.
    • See Cyborgs for my thoughts on the matter.
  15. Integration:
    • We don’t “integrate” with cars and planes any more than we integrate with computers. They are just tools. Prosthetics are the nearest analogues, but there’s a long way from that to true integration.
  16. Nanotechnology:
    • At this stage of the argument, it’s not clear how intelligent machines will help repair our bodies and brains (especially “indefinitely”). Usually nanotechnology is invoked at this stage (see Link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanotechnology) for an overview). Now, it’s true that intelligent machines would be needed to manufacture, and probably program, these myriads of tiny, very specialised machines, but the possibilities are very schematic. There’s no evidence that anything workable is around the corner.
    • It looks like the free eBook by Eric Drexler Engines of Creation 2.0 — The Coming Era of Nanotechnology (Link (http://www.kurzweilai.net/ebooks/engines-of-creation-book-excerpts-features)) might prove useful.
  17. Consciousnesses:
    • Just what is meant here? Is this just loose speaking? A thing (an animal) is conscious, and the animal can’t be scanned and downloaded anywhere. No-one really knows (at the theoretical level) what phenomenal consciousness is, though there are many theories. What’s probably intended here is that “the contents of our brains” would be read and uploaded to some device that can simulate our brains. This, of course, assumes that mind-body substance dualism is false (as it probably is), but even so – and admitting that whatever runs the downloaded software is at best a copy of the original, there’s a long way to go before this sort of thing becomes even a worked-out theoretical possibility.
  18. Software:
    • Well, philosophically-speaking, this is an outrageous idea. It depends on what we are, and we’re almost certainly not software, though software is important to us. And there are issues of identity – since software is easy to copy, and copies aren’t identical, what reason would an individual have for thinking any particular installed copy was (identical to) him?
  19. Annihilation:
    • Well, this is certainly something to watch out for, but I dare say it’s a way off. It’s more of a worry in genetic engineering or (if it gets going in the futurist mini-robot sense) nanotechnology.
  20. The Singularity:
    • This term is defined later, but see
      Link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity) and
      Link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singularity_Is_Near)
      (amongst much else).
  21. Moore's Law:
    • See Wikipedia (Link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law)).
    • The Wikipedia article mentions Kurzweil and other futurologists, and the possible breakdown of Moore’s Law within the next 5 years or so (ie. well before 2045). It also notes that Moore’s Law is a self-fulfilling prophesy, in that the industry has taken it as a paradigm for R&D aims. Also, that the R&D costs of keeping up with Moore’s Law are also increasing exponentially.
    Kurzweil's Graph
  22. Kurzweil's Graph:
    • This graph intentionally muddles together speed and cost, but so-doing can lead others to draw the wrong conclusions from it.
    • Currently, while there continue to be improvements in computing power, the current driver behind the continuing exponential growth of Kurzweil’s graph is economic – ie. computer hardware is being delivered cheaper, faster, not faster faster.
    • Even if Kurzweil’s graph did continue for ever, it might still not lead to the singularity, in that the (infinitely cheap) computer hardware might still not deliver what Kurzweil needs. It might still be too slow.
  23. Dummy Section:
    • Details to be supplied later!





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Currently the links are one-way.

Note last updated: 20/04/2018 23:25:26


Footnote 6.25: (Computers)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 11: I can’t get into this in any detail.

Footnote 13: Footnote 14: Footnote 15: The list is rather long, and will need pruning when I get down to this topic.

Footnote 16: See "Block (Ned) - The Computer Model of the Mind" for a shorter version.

Footnote 17: See "Sanford (David H.) - Where Was I?" for a follow-up (with a commentary by Dennett).

Footnote 18: This paper no doubt considers the use of computers for simulating situations other than minds, so might not be directly relevant.

Footnote 19: "Gelernter (David) - Mirror Worlds" is more a prediction of the internet, and is probably (even) less relevant.

Footnote 20: This seems somewhat tangential, as it’s not focused on simulating persons, but it might be useful background.

Footnote 21:
  • There’s quite a lot by Searle that is relevant, but it’s important not to get dragged in too far into his “outlier” perspective – unless, of course, he’s right!
  • It may be best to start with the whole of the book from which this paper is taken, ie. "Searle (John) - Minds, Brains and Science: The 1984 Reith Lectures".
Footnote 22: See also "Searle (John) - Is the Brain's Mind a Computer Program? MIT Comments".

Note last updated: 31/08/2017 19:35:02


Footnote 6.26: (Immortality)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 12:
  • I’m not sure where this is from, but see Link (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1066-i-don-t-want-to-achieve-immortality-through-my-work-i).
Footnote 13: Footnote 20:
  • 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.
Footnote 21:
  • 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.
Footnote 22:
  • The categorised reading-list requires some pruning in order to fit to identity-related issues only.

Note last updated: 01/03/2018 23:49:55


Footnote 6.30: (Narrative Identity)

Plug1 Note

  • Narrative identity isn’t really an account of numerical identity, but is dependent on it. It is analogous to the PV, but is closer to what most non-philosophers usually mean by “personal identity”; saying someone is “no longer the same person” implies such a change in personality that their life no longer fits into a single narrative.
  • The most convenient introduction is probably in "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Ethics", section 2.3 (Link (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-ethics/#NarCri)).
  • To quote:-
    • what makes some feature mine may actually be making reference to a non-numerical type of identity, a type of identity we are thinking of when addressing the familiar question of an identity crisis: “Who am I really?” This is the question of identity as proper attributability, as providing an account of one's true self and the various attributes genuinely belonging to it.
    • the Narrative Criterion of Personal Identity: what makes an action, experience, or psychological characteristic properly attributable to some person (and thus a proper part of his or her true identity) is its correct incorporation into the self-told story of his or her life. … Narrative identity is thus really about a kind of psychological unity, but not just an artless or random unity.
    • for that subject of experiences to be a person, a genuine moral agent, those experiences must be actively unified, must be gathered together into the life of one narrative ego by virtue of a story the subject tells that weaves them together, giving them a kind of coherence and intelligibility they wouldn't otherwise have had. This is how the various experiences and events come to have any real meaning at all — rather than being merely isolated events — by being part of a larger story that relates them to one another within the context of one life
    • What explains my special sort of concern for myself is that I'm in fact an extended narrative ego — not some time-slice concerned about the well-being of some future time-slice — and I'm constantly extending that narrative into the future, so my concern is global, a concern for the whole self I'm creating via this story, the whole self whose various parts are mine.
    • what makes some past action mine (for which I'm eligible for praise or blame) is that it flowed from my central values, beliefs, and experiences, that there's a coherent story I may tell uniting it to the other elements of my life.
  • Shoemaker sees a problem:-
    • What matters to us with respect to all of our practical concerns is that we ourselves continue to exist: it's a necessary presupposition of my rational anticipation, self-concern, possibilities for compensation, and so on that I myself persist, but this is an issue of numerical identity. Another way to put this is that one can't be a person, on the narrative view, unless one gathers up the various experiences one has as a subject of experiences into a coherent narrative, but then the identity of that subject of experiences must be preserved across time for its experiences to be so gathered up.
    • If narrative identity depends on numerical identity, then it is as subject to fission-problems as accounts of numerical identity.
  • See the categorised reading list below. A fairly full reading list might be:-
    1. "Alexander (Ronald) - The Self and Narrative Identity", Alexander
    2. "DeGrazia (David) - Human Persons: Narrative Identity and Self-Creation", DeGrazia
    3. "Schechtman (Marya) - The Narrative Self-Constitution View", Schechtman
    4. "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Self-Regarding Ethics - Alternative Approaches", Shoemaker_David
    5. "Teichert (Dieter) - Narrative, Identity and the Self", Teichert
    6. "Thomas (Laurence) - Group Autonomy and Narrative Identity: Blacks and Jews", Thomas
  • This is a place-holder.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 16/08/2015 13:30:43


Footnote 6.35: (Life)

Plug Note1

  • There are (at least) two sub-topics that fall under this topic:-
    • Lives: Life as an (extended) event – the career of an individual.
    • Life: Life as a biological process.
  • I assume that lives can be had by individuals that do not have (biological) life, but think it unhelpful to talk of non-biological individuals as “alive”, except in a figurative sense.
  • Life – and its correlate, death – is a biological process, on which the word of the biologist (maybe as clarified by the philosopher) is final.
  • So, interesting philosophical questions about Life include:-
    • Just what is (biological) life?
    • When does biological life begin? This is presumably an empirical question, the answer to which will vary from species to species.
    • Are there borderline cases of life?
    • When does life cease? Again, the answer to this question will be species-dependent.
    • Can life intermit? Does it make sense to say that so-and-so died (on the operating table, say) and then revived?
  • Interesting philosophical questions about Lives include:-
    • How are lives individuated?
    • What sort of things can have lives?
    • How closely coupled is the life of a human organism with the life of a human person?
    • Can a life lived courtesy of a human organism be continued after the death of that organism?
  • A starting point for Life is "Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities".
  • Similarly, for Lives: "Wollheim (Richard) - Living", from "Wollheim (Richard) - The Thread of Life".
  • For a discussion of the possibility of Life after Death, see this Note.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read7, include8 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, mainly see the rather bloated reading list below.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 7:
  • 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.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 6.36: (Process Metaphysics)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 2:
  • I need a note on Composition.
  • It is involved in – but not identical to – issues of Constitution.

Note last updated: 31/01/2018 19:58:05


Footnote 6.38: (Temporary Intrinsics)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 17/10/2017 12:30:14


Footnote 6.48: (Life After Death)

Plug Note1

  • There are (at least) two sub-topics that fall under this topic:-
    • Lives: Life as an (extended) event – the career of an individual.
    • Life: Life as a biological process.
  • I assume that lives can be had by individuals that do not have (biological) life, but think it unhelpful to talk of non-biological individuals as “alive”, except in a figurative sense.
  • Life – and its correlate, death – is a biological process, on which the word of the biologist (maybe as clarified by the philosopher) is final.
  • So, interesting philosophical questions about Life include:-
    • Just what is (biological) life?
    • When does biological life begin? This is presumably an empirical question, the answer to which will vary from species to species.
    • Are there borderline cases of life?
    • When does life cease? Again, the answer to this question will be species-dependent.
    • Can life intermit? Does it make sense to say that so-and-so died (on the operating table, say) and then revived?
  • Interesting philosophical questions about Lives include:-
    • How are lives individuated?
    • What sort of things can have lives?
    • How closely coupled is the life of a human organism with the life of a human person?
    • Can a life lived courtesy of a human organism be continued after the death of that organism?
  • A starting point for Life is "Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities".
  • Similarly, for Lives: "Wollheim (Richard) - Living", from "Wollheim (Richard) - The Thread of Life".
  • For a discussion of the possibility of Life after Death, see this Note.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read7, include8 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, mainly see the rather diminutive reading list below.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 7:
  • 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.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 6.55: (Statue and the Clay)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 14/01/2017 20:18:14


Footnote 6.60: (Problem of the Many)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 14/01/2017 20:18:14


Footnote 6.69: (Universals)

Plug Note1

  • My research is Personal Identity, so what have Universals to do with this?
  • Well, not a lot – except David Lewis introduced them as an example to distinguish perdurance from endurance – Universals being analogous to enduring entities as they are (allegedly) wholly present in each particular that possesses the property covered by the Universal. So, (a particular shade of) redness is (said to be) wholly present in each red object.
  • There’s also a connection with Natural Kinds. In "Hawley (Katherine) & Bird (Alexander) - What are Natural Kinds?", the authors suggest that Natural Kinds are “Complex Universals”.
  • I also – probably heretically – have the view that Universals themselves might have persistence conditions. My example is that of a book. “Pride and Prejudice” is a book – but both a Universal that can be variously instantiated in physical books, or (now) eBooks. But it (or a better example) might go through several editions. What makes all these editions “of the same book”?
  • I have touched upon Universals in various write-ups:-
    1. "Baillie (James) - What Am I?": see write-up.
    2. "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Response to Eric Olson": see write-up.
    3. "Fine (Kit) - A Counter-Example To Locke's Thesis": see write-up.
    4. "Markosian (Ned) - Three Problems for Olson's Account of Personal Identity": see write-up.
  • They also appear in Animadversions on talks at Heythrop by:-
    1. Snowdon
    2. Haldane
  • There is a potential relationship between Universals and Properties – realists contend that properties are Universals, and "Moreland (J.P.) - Universals" attacks the question of universals via that of properties. So, a consideration of "Mellor (D.H.) & Oliver (Alex), Eds. - Properties: Oxford Readings in Philosophy" might be in order.
  • Leading on from this, I might also review my BA-finals essay on the Third Man Argument (Link (http://www.theotodman.com/PlatoThirdMan.pdf)), which deals with the problems caused by properties and universals.
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
    1. Also, see Bob Doyle: Abstract Entities (http://metaphysicist.com/problems/abstract_entities/).
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 14/01/2017 20:18:14


Footnote 6.83: (Brain Criterion)

Plug Note1

  • There will naturally be some overlap on this topic with the topics of
    Brains and
    Criteria of Identity.
  • The question is whether the brain is the be-all and end-all of the matter of personal identity for human persons.
  • It is acknowledged by most that – conceptually at least – there can be persons that are not humans (ie. not members of the species homo sapiens) – whether these persons be non-human animals, computers, God, angels, aliens or whatever. Non-animals presumably have no brains, though aliens presumably have a brain-analogue, so brains cannot be identity-criteria for personhood as such (indeed, we might argue that there are no criteria for persons as such6). But for animal-persons (human or otherwise), the brain seems to occupy a central place, both as the seat of psychology (in the absence of an immaterial soul) and as the regulator of the body.
  • So, the story would go, X is the same person as Y iff8 X has the same brain as Y.
  • The trouble is – even if this claim is along the right lines – we can press matters further, and ask whether the whole brain is strictly necessary. If what impresses us is a brain-based psychological view, when what we imagine is “really the minimal me” is the pair of psychology-bearing cerebral hemispheres, then we might imagine (as some philosophers have) a case of fission, where – after equalising the hemispheres in psychological potency, we transplant one into another body lacking both hemispheres. Or, without needing anything so radical, we sever the corpus callosum in a commissurotomy, thereby (on this view) creating two persons in one body.
  • However, if we are animalists, wondering what the “minimal animal” is, and it’s the command-and-control functions of the brain that impress us, then the paring-down process might14 be able to do without the cerebral hemispheres (or at least the psychology-bearing parts) altogether. So, brain-based views from different perspectives might come to different conclusions about the importance of the cerebral hemispheres – one view might make them essential, the other irrelevant to questions of identity (if not to “what matters”). It is an empirical question whether the brain-stem can be divided, and hence whether a brain-based animalist approach is also subject to worries16 about fission.
  • Anyway, the appropriateness of the Brain criterion of personal identity depends on what we are– in particular whether we are (most fundamentally, or in the sense of numerical identity, which is not the same thing) human animals or persons constituted by them (or various other things).
  • Only if19 we believe that we are (identical to) brains will we adopt the brain criterion.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read21, include22 the following:-
    1. "Garrett (Brian) - Criteria of Personal Identity", Garrett
    2. "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings", Johnston23
    3. "Manninen (Tuomas) - Review of Alva Noe's 'Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain'", Manninen
    4. "Noonan (Harold) - An Initial Survey", Noonan
    5. "Parfit (Derek) - Nagel's Brain", Parfit
    6. "Snowdon (Paul) - The Self and Personal Identity", Snowdon
    7. "Thomas (Janice L.) - The bodily criterion", Thomas
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
    1. "Noe (Alva) - Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness", Noe
    2. "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Brains", Olson
  • This is mostly a place-holder.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 6: Footnote 8:
  • And, of course, “X and Y are both persons”, to cover the case where the brain is insufficient to support the property of personhood.
Footnote 14:
  • Much of this discussion has empirical aspects to it, and depends on the capabilities of real brains – though we might get into the choppy waters of more intricate TEs, and wonder what might be the case if the biology went differently – but then we would most likely not be talking about our identity criteria, but of some other being.
Footnote 16:
  • These worries about fission are essentially set to rest by adopting a perdurantist account of persistence.
  • But, some consider the costs (mainly semantic, I think) of adopting this approach are too great.
Footnote 19:
  • But see the Note on Johnston below!
Footnote 21:
  • 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.
Footnote 22:
  • 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.
Footnote 23:
  • Johnston thinks we are human beings, but – when push comes to shove – we would survive as brains, so the criteria of our identity are – for Johnston – brain based.

Note last updated: 14/03/2018 10:07:41


Footnote 6.88: (Cyborgs)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 6:
  • There are other situations where human tissue is to be harvested from other animals – after genetic modification or other means – for the purpose of implantation.
Footnote 14:
  • 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.
Footnote 15:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 08/02/2018 21:54:43


Footnote 6.89: (Cerebrum)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 10/04/2017 23:38:24


Footnote 6.90: (Sleep)

Plug1 Note

  • I’d not intended to address this topic, but it appeared in Paul Broks’s contribution to "Smith (Barry C.), Broks (Paul), Kennedy (A.L.) & Evans (Jules) - What Does It Mean to Be Me?", in relation to Parfit’s Teletransportation TE.
  • Therein, the thought is that the “pulling yourself together” that the individual does on awaking is very closely analogous to what happens in the “reception pod” in teletransportation. If this is right, then either the awakening sleeper is not identical to the one who went to sleep, or the teletransportee is indeed identical to the individual who set off, and teletransportation is indeed a form of travel. I don’t believe any of this.
  • However I ought to add a few jottings, as it’s central to the Psychological View, which says – roughly speaking – that we are most fundamentally mental substances, and there has – since Descartes – been an issue about whether the thinking thing has to be continually thinking, and the dreamless sleep was the classic case of when it appeared not to be..
  • See the diminutive categorised reading list below, most of which seems relevant.
  • This is a place-holder.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 25/09/2015 19:16:19


Footnote 6.94: (Buddhism)

Plug Note1

  • Buddhist teachings are relevant in two ways to personal identity:-
    1. The rejection of the importance of the Self. There are some connections to Parfit’s ideas.
    2. The insistence on Reincarnation.
  • I have to admit to being mostly ignorant of Buddhist teachings, and unsympathetic towards those I know of (other than the woolly “peace, love and compassion” stuff).
  • A couple of Websites may be useful, though clearly they don’t focus on my research interests:-
    1. The Buddhist eLibrary (Link (http://www.buddhistelibrary.org/))
    2. The Dalai Lama’s site (Link (https://www.dalailama.com/))
  • However, the following brace of books might help:-
    1. "Yoshinori (Takeuchi), Van Bragt (Jan), Heisig (James), Swanson (Paul) & O'Leary (Joseph), Eds. - Buddhist Spirituality I - Indian, Southeast Asian, Tibetan, Early Chinese", and
    2. "Yoshinori (Takeuchi), Heisig (James), O'Leary (Joseph) & Swanson (Paul), Eds. - Buddhist Spirituality II - Later China, Korea, Japan and the Modern World".
  • So, I'm vaguely interested in Buddhism – though not from the religious angle – where my interests are strictly "Abrahamic" (Christianity, Judaism, Islam). It slightly impinges on my research topic, though in a rather negative way. The Buddhist claim is that the focus on the Self, together with attachments to anything whatever, is the cause of all the world's ills. No doubt there's something in this - but it's illicit or inordinate attachments that are the problem, not attachments as such. Attachments are what gives life meaning, and its selfishness, not selves, that is the problem. Anyway, some philosophers think it would be a "good thing" if the boundaries between one self and another were broken down so that we cared less about who was benefitted from our actions, just that our actions were beneficial - so we wouldn't care whether it was ourselves, or our families or friends, or someone unknown to us who benefitted, just that someone did. Despite the potential benefit to the world’s poor, this strikes me
    1. as overly idealistic and
    2. to ignore our proper responsibilities (ie. we have some greater responsibility - though not an exclusive one - for those close to us, because they are "our job" to look after).
  • Those philosophers that take a "psychological view" of our persistence conditions - that we're psychological beings whose degree of connectedness to our future selves is exclusively based on psychological factors – some of whom think that we are somehow portable from one body to another – can make some sense of reincarnation. Those that are thoroughgoing materialists (like me) can't. I’m sure the Dalai Lama is a very nice man, but his position and authority depends on him being a reincarnation of someone else7, which isn’t likely to be true.
  • Despite all the "peace and love" stuff, some of the ideas that Buddhism inherited from Hinduism strike me as being rather pernicious. It all stems from Karma and reincarnation - the idea that whatever we do in this life stores up good or ill for us the next time round. Maybe this (despite being based on metaphysical falsehoods) has some tendency to encourage some people to be less wicked than they might otherwise be (just like the threat of the eternal bonfire used to do for Christians), but it also has a tendency (for those who take the doctrine seriously) to encourage the thought that people deserve what they get because of what they did in a past life – so the poor deserve their poverty and the rich their wealth; all very convenient for those in power; though this isn’t the Dalai Lama’s take on things). No doubt the thought that any living thing might once have been human, or might in some future cycle be human, might lead to "universal compassion", but it's all a complete muddle metaphysically-speaking, and we should found our ethics on truths rather than falsehoods, it seems to me.
  • No doubt a Buddhist would have an answer to these concerns, and correct my many confusions.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read8, include9 the following:-
    1. "Bourgeois (Warren) - Contemporary Philosophers' Views on Persons: Parfit: The Oxford Buddhist", Bourgeois
    2. "Vardy (Peter) & Arliss (Julie) - Evil in Eastern traditions", Vardy
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
    1. "Goodman (Charles) - Vaibhāṣika Metaphoricalism", Goodman
    2. "Laycock (Stephen) - Consciousness It/Self", Laycock
    3. "Sprague (Elmer) - Giving Persons a Hard Time", Sprague
    4. "Velleman (David) - So It Goes", Velleman
    5. "Wagner (Rachel) & Flannery-Dailey (Frances) - Wake Up! Worlds of Illusion in Gnosticism, Buddhism, and The Matrix Project", Wagner
    6. "Williams (Paul) - Indian Philosophy", Williams
  • This is mostly a place-holder.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 7:
  • I don’t know whether reincarnations are of themselves, in a previous life.
  • See Wikipedia (Link (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succession_of_the_14th_Dalai_Lama)) for discussion of the succession from 14th to 15th Delai Lama.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.
Footnote 9:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 03/02/2018 21:27:22


Footnote 7: (Ontology)

Plug Note1

  • Ontology is the study of what exists.
  • In the context of the philosophy of personal identity, ontological questions ask what persons really are.
  • Maybe it’s best first of all to step back, with Locke, and consider the sorts of thing that persist and establish the persistence conditions for these sorts:
    bodies,
    animals,
    human beings.
  • The ontological question is whether – with Locke – we should add persons to this list.
  • Baker holds the view that when a person comes into existence, so does a new entity, of a new kind. A world without persons would be ontologically impoverished.
  • But is this so, or do existing entities simply gain new properties?
  • We must even (on certain definitions of PERSON) ask whether there are any, or whether the term can be eliminated. See:-
    → "Unger (Peter) - Why There Are No People" and
    → "Unger (Peter) - I Do Not Exist".
  • Since Unger’s sorites arguments eliminate all material entities with parts, not just persons (though the elimination of persons on this account depends on the assumption that they are material entities with parts) I, along with the later Unger, wish to reject such conclusions.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read15, include16 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the enormously bloated categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 15:
  • 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.
Footnote 16:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 8: (Person)

Plug Note1

  • I must first consider whether the debate on personal identity has been hijacked by a term (whose meaning has changed over time) that can now be dispensed with? Wiggins claims that the Greeks had no term for “person” (I need to re-read the paper by "Trendelenberg (Adolf) - A Contribution to the History of the Word Person" to double-check this). Have we always secretly been talking about human animal identity (probably referring to human beings rather than human animals) when we thought we were talking about something separate, namely persons?
  • I need to start with some conceptual analysis, though this may lead to somewhat arbitrary (ie. merely semantic or culture-relative) conclusions if PERSON isn’t a natural kind concept.
  • I accept Locke’s conceptual distinction between Human Beings (“Men”), Persons and Substances. I accept Locke’s assertion that the rational parrot would be a person, but not a man – the latter essentially involving particular physical characteristics, the former specific mental characteristics.

  • Can any purely mentalistic definition of the concept PERSON, such as Locke’s definition of a person as
      a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places” ("Locke (John) - Of Identity and Diversity" - Essay II.27.2)
    … be correct? I suspect not, because of the corporeal aspects we take as being essential to our self-image.
  • But, when we think of ourselves in this corporeal way, is this qua ANIMAL or qua PERSON. But then, this “qua-ing” can lead to relative identity, and shows how difficult it is for me, at least, to maintain the strict logic of identity in these discussions.
  • Some further, fairly random, thoughts:-
    • We must not ignore potential differences between the Person, the Self and the Individual.
    • I doubt the truth of the contention that one’s Self is the sum of one’s projects, one’s individual “identity”.
    • We must also note the potential for degrees of personhood.
    • Are persons essentially sentient? Or rational? And is rationality, like the mental generally, overstated by philosophers whose favourite habitat it is?
    • What about temporal gaps in sentience & rationality in the life of an individual – does the person pop in and out of existence?
    • What about legal persons: not companies, but the comatose, who still have estates (but then so do the deceased)?
    • How important is “person”, as against “sentient being” in my research concerns? The Cartesians denied sentience to animals and until recently there has been a down-playing of the capacities of animals, particularly their emotional capacities. Consequently, the persistence criteria for sentient non-humans may not have been given the focus they ought. I suspect that many of the thought experiments work just as well if we drop some of the more onerous requirements of personhood in such contexts. Some of the thought experiments play on the thought of “being tortured tomorrow”. While animals may not have the concept TOMORROW, I presume the higher animals have some capacity for anticipating future ills about to befall them. I wonder whether my research concerns should be about all beings that care about the future, whether or not they have a clear concept of it as their future.
  • I will probably start with Dennett’s six criteria of personhood (see "Dennett (Daniel) - Conditions of Personhood") …
    1. rationality,
    2. intentionality – “predicated of”
    3. intentionality – “adopted towards”
    4. reciprocation of the personal stance,
    5. verbal communication and
    6. consciousness
    … in investigating what persons are. See the following essay22.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read23, include24 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list, which is enormously bloated and needs considerable pruning.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 23:
  • 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.
Footnote 24:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 8.22: (Daniel Dennett – Conditions of Personhood)

Dennett suggests that the concepts of “person” and “human being” are not necessarily co-extensive. He also distinguishes the two intertwined notions of personhood – moral and metaphysical. He defends the following 6 “themes” as necessary conditions of personhood:

  1. Persons are rational beings.
  2. Persons are beings to which states of consciousness are attributed, or to which psychological or mental or intentional predicates are ascribed.
  3. Whether something counts as a person depends in some way on an attitude taken toward it, a stance adopted with respect to it.
  4. The object toward which this personal stance is taken must be capable of reciprocating in some way.
  5. Persons must be capable of verbal communication.
  6. Persons are distinguishable from other entities by being conscious in some special way: there is a way in which we are conscious in which no other species is conscious. Sometimes this is identified as self-consciousness of one sort or another.
Dennett addresses 3 issues to do with these 6 themes:
  1. How (on his interpretation) are these 6 themes dependent on one another?
  2. Why are they necessary conditions of moral personhood?
  3. Why is it so hard to say whether they are jointly sufficient conditions for moral personhood?
In this essay, rather than address Dennett’s 3 issues directly, I wish to address the following 6 questions:
  1. Is Dennett right to separate the concepts of “person” and “human being”?
  2. Is Dennett right to distinguish moral from metaphysical personhood?
  3. Has Dennett the right set of themes?
  4. Has Dennett found the right interdependencies and priorities amongst his themes.
  5. What are Dennett’s reasons for predicating these conditions of personhood?
  6. Finally, is Dennett guided by a natural kind concept, by social convention or by other factors?
I have to admit that this is a first draft and something of a rushed job. My aim at this stage is to generate ideas quickly rather than ensure the argument is fully rigorous. I’m afraid I’ve used Dennett’s paper more as a jumping off point, and have not considered his actual arguments as much as I should. I’ve included hyperlinks to topics I’ve written before, as a way of airing them and avoiding needless repetition, though the primary aim of this essay is to provide some continuous text for discussion, rather than exemplifying the approach of my research proposal (from where these notes come) which is almost all footnotes.

My aim in reviewing this paper is to get some sort of handle on what a person might be. The aim of my thesis will be to demonstrate that human persons are phase sortals of human animals, and that consequently (given the falsehood of mind/body dualism) that such hoped-for events such as resurrection are metaphysically impossible. I’m not arguing for any of this here, just motivating the consideration of this topic.

Page references are to the 1997 Penguin edition of Brainstorms (Chapter 14).


Persons and Human Beings


Dennett claims that while any reader of his essay has to be person, the reader need not be a human being. The reader could be an alien, for instance. However, as far as I can see, to read Dennett’s essay with reward, only rationality, language use, phenomenal consciousness and intentional states are strictly required. The moral themes seem irrelevant, as does the consciousness of self (though a reader without this concept might find the essay initially rather dull, though maybe enlightening).

So, the reader might not be a moral person by Dennett’s lights. Dennett is probably right, though, that infants, “mental defectives” (how sensibilities have moved on since 1978, or whenever this Chapter was drafted) and the appropriately insane, would not get much out of his offering. However, the contemporary candidates of choice for human non-personhood tend these days to be moved closer to the termini of life, being (early) fetuses and those in a persistent vegetative state (though maybe the question is different – in Olson the question is whether “we” have psychological states essentially, and the claim is that “we” do not since “we” existed as fetuses, and may (for all we now know) persist into a PVS).

However, this leads on to our next question.


Moral and Metaphysical Persons


Dennett’s distinction between moral and metaphysical persons seems to change the topic of the conversation to one I’m less interested in. While it’s not always 100% clear (at least to me), the bulk of his essay is addressed to the topic of moral persons rather than metaphysical persons. Because he agrees that Frankfurt’s ideas about wantons are fruitful, Dennett excludes many human beings from the category “person” that I would prefer to include.

However, the motivation behind this distinction is whether or not the term “person” is a “free-floating honorific”, like “chic” (p. 268). He distinguishes the metaphysical notion of person (“an intelligent, conscious, feeling agent”) from that of the moral notion (one “who is accountable, who has both rights and responsibilities”). He wants to know whether being a metaphysical person is a prerequisite for being a moral person, something a metaphysical person can “grow into”, or whether metaphysical persons must be moral persons. He points out that we still in general react to the clinically insane (unless they are very far gone) as though they are metaphysical persons, even though they may not be treated as moral persons. Hence, the two terms are distinct, though being a metaphysical person does seem to be a necessary condition for being a moral person (with the exception of compound persons such as companies).


The Right Set of Themes?


I can’t really do better in defining what I think persons are than does Locke. An entity for which persistence matters; a thinking thing that can consider itself as itself; that is phenomenally conscious, and has a consciousness of self. This is approximately Dennett’s metaphysical person, though we mustn’t forget that Locke famously considered personhood a forensic concept.

Now on to Dennett’s specific themes:
  1. Rationality: I’m not sure how far rationality should be pressed, despite Dennett considering it “the most obvious” (p. 269). I don’t think it’s essential for a metaphysical person. However, the assumption of rationality is essential in all our dealings with other sentient entities (Dennett’s intentional stance won’t work otherwise), so it is probably essential for moral personhood. Even then, “predictability” might be more relevant than rationality.
  2. Intentional Predication: I’m happy with this, as it is a prerequisite for all mindedness (though not a sufficient condition). I’m happy that persons are minded beings, even if human beings aren’t always.
  3. The object of a stance: this seems to suggest that who is a person is in some sense “up to us”. Indeed Dennett says (p. 270) that it’s not just a stance taken in response to a metaphysical person, but is as least partly constitutive of a moral person (I paraphrase). This is definitely a predicate for moral persons only. While it might as a matter of fact be the case that certain metaphysical persons are socially ostracised so as to be treated as moral non-persons, this doesn’t make them non-persons in either the metaphysical sense or the moral sense (for a moral realist).
  4. Reciprocation: Again, this is necessary only for moral persons. A sociopath or convinced solipsist is still a metaphysical person.
  5. Verbal Communication: Presumably Dennett is not disbarring deaf mutes from personhood, nor Stephen Hawking were someone to tread on his laptop. Even so, the possession of a language of thought (along Fodor’s lines) is probably a prerequisite for rationality, but this doesn’t address Dennett’s themes of communication and reciprocal attitudes. Metaphysical persons incapable of communication might not be moral persons. I expect there are large questions about how a sense of self might arise without language. One would need to consider feral children. This might connect to a question I had in connection with the Language Acquisition Thesis (the claim that “learning a language is instrumental in the development of conceptual faculties in a human subject”). See the following link.
  6. Self-Consciousness: I think this is central to either metaphysical or moral personhood. See below under “Natural Kinds”. Dennett takes this form of consciousness (like language) to be the unique preserve of the human species, though I gather that both claims are not controversial (with the teaching of American Sign Language to bonobos, and the question whether passing the mirror test demonstrates a sense of self).

I have a question whether the properties Dennett requires of persons are their present properties or capacities, or whether entities that will, in the normal course of events, develop into persons, or which have in the past if not in the present possessed such capacities, count as persons. Is the property of being a person inalienable? Clearly capacities are more important than their present exercise (after all, we are not always rational or self-conscious, or even conscious at all; personhood is a state, not an activity).

This relates to whether human persons are phase sortals, of human beings, or whether they are human beings, period. It looks as though Dennett would deny the latter suggestion, given his insistence on certain properties that not all human beings share.

Interdependencies and Priorities amongst the Themes


This will mostly have to wait for future elaboration. Dennett (p. 271) claims that the 6 themes are given in the order of their dependence with the proviso that the first 3 are mutually interdependent. Enough to note here that an item I consider essential to metaphysical personhood, namely self-consciousness, appears at the bottom of Dennett’s list and so is presumably taken to be reliant on predicates only necessary for moral personhood. I would deny this connection.

Why These Themes?


This will also mostly have to be left until a later date.

As I note above, Dennett considers the order of the themes important, and considers that the earlier ones as prerequisites for the later ones. In particular, because we can adopt the intentional stance towards beings such as plants that have no mental states (“it grows that way because it wants to get to the light”), we need to move on to those that have real beliefs and desires. He is worried (p. 273) that we might get the themes in the wrong order by the premature invocation of the conscious knowledge or verbal expressibility of our beliefs to ensure their genuineness, but in any case these conditions are too strong as we have many beliefs that we’re either unaware of or cannot express. This is why he brings in his fourth theme, that of reciprocity. While we can adopt the intentional stance towards plants, they cannot return the favour. He also assumes this reciprocity fails for all non-humans, but I suspect he’s wrong. Maybe this is a step in the right direction, but adopting Frankfurt’s approach (however useful the concept of a wanton is) seems to me to be a step too far in this context (and even in Frankfurt’s context).


What Sort of a Concept is “Person”


At the beginning of his essay, Dennett asks whether the concept of a person is incoherent or obsolete. His answer is that it isn’t, because we cannot cease to regard others, and in particular ourselves as persons without contradiction (and refers us to "Dennett (Daniel) - Mechanism and Responsibility"). I’ve not pursued this question, but suspect that the fact that the question can be asked at all indicates that the concept of person isn’t a natural kind concept, at least not as the term “moral person” is defined by Dennett. There seem to be too many attitudinal issues and those that make certain sorts of societies cohere (even though these may arguably be the best sort).

I don’t seem to have written anything sensible on natural kind concepts. Maybe this is a next step. My intuition is that persons, whether metaphysical or moral, aren’t natural kind concepts, and that for human persons the appropriate natural kind concept is “human animal” (or maybe “human being”).

A critical question, however, is whether the emergence of self-consciousness signals the arrival of a new natural kind (as Lynne Rudder Baker alleges, taking “self-consciousness” to be the same as her “first-person perspective”).

Note last updated: 18/12/2010 19:58:05


Footnote 9: (Sortals)

Plug Note1

  • Using Howard Robinson’s terminology ("Robinson (Howard) - Dualism (Stanford)"), the Ultimate Sort of a thing is that property without which the thing ceases to exist.
  • However, an individual falling under a Phase Sortal can lose the property that defines the phase without ceasing to exist.
  • Ultimate Sorts are presumably the same as Baker’s Primary Kinds, though I can’t remember if she has an analogue of a Phase Sortal.
  • The standard example is of a HUMAN BEING (as the Ultimate Sort) and CHILD (as a Phase Sortal).
  • So, is personhood an attribute of a human being, like “childhood”, that a human being can either possess or lack, or are persons ontologically separate from “their” human beings?
  • Wiggins argues that we can’t talk of the persistence conditions10 of anything until we know what sort it is.
  • Olson claims that it’s futile to talk of the persistence conditions of persons per se – if human beings, God and angels are all persons – since their persistence conditions (assuming the existence of God and angels, for the sake of the argument) are completely different. This lack of a common set of persistence conditions would indicate that PERSON is not an Ultimate Sort.
  • I (intend to) discuss the sorts that we may fall under in the Note on “What are We”.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read12, include13 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 12:
  • 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.
Footnote 13:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 24/04/2018 08:58:34


Footnote 9.10 (CORRESPONDENT)

On a view like Olson's, I take it, that:

(a) altho' a human animal can exist when it is not a person, insofar as we have genuine IDENTITY questions, these relate to human animals. (Perhaps Olson thinks 'person' is a phase-sortal, like 'teenager'. We don't raise questions about teenager identity AS SUCH),

(b) if we think angels are persons only because they satisfy some functional definition that we might give of what it takes to be a person, then we don't yet have any reason to think that what it takes for angels to persist has a bearing on what it takes for us to persist. (Again: we've chosen the wrong concept to answer identity questions with respect to.)

Note last updated: 21/10/2007 09:48:58


Footnote 10: (Homo Sapiens)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 12:
  • 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.
Footnote 13:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 28/02/2018 18:40:19


Footnote 10.5: (Human Persons)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 7:
  • 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.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.
Footnote 9:
  • As noted above, this Note is subordinate to those on Persons and Human Beings, where most of the reading will lie.
  • The choice depends mostly on the accident of the use of the term “human person”.

Note last updated: 17/01/2018 18:17:17


Footnote 10.9: (Resurrection)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 14:
  • 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.
Footnote 15:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 02/03/2018 17:54:14


Footnote 10.10: (Disembodied Existence)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 4:
  • But there are worries whether disembodied existence is even coherent for concrete particulars.
Footnote 6:
  • I’ve not attended to these very seriously.
Footnote 7:
  • 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.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.
Footnote 11:

Note last updated: 24/04/2018 22:19:12


Footnote 10.11: (Souls)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 4: This is becoming a shelf-load, so “require” is rather strong!

Footnote 5: In general, if a book is noted, its Chapters are not.

Footnote 6: For reviews, see
→ "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Review of 'Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?' by Nancey Murphy", and
→ "Hershenov (David) - Review of Nancy Murphy's 'Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?'".

Footnote 7: Footnote 8: Also, Kagan’s follow-on lectures on the existence and immortality of the soul.

Note last updated: 01/08/2017 00:11:31


Footnote 10.14: (Awaiting Attention (Personal Identity))

This note is simply a place-holder, the point of which is to use the jump-table facility that appears dynamically at the bottom of this note to keep tabs on the areas of this website (within the above Note-Group) that await the most urgent attention.

If the table “Links to this Page” only contains the “Awaiting Attention” item, this means that there are no items waiting attention (since the “Awaiting Attention” item is the one that only links to pages such as this one).

Note last updated: 10/11/2007 13:17:46


Footnote 11: (Logic of Identity)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 9:
  • 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.
Footnote 10:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 03/02/2018 00:20:10


Footnote 11.2: (Leibniz)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 2:
  • No doubt there’s a convention as to which is the “first” and which is the “second” of Leibniz’s Laws, but they are often confusingly combined into one law with two parts.
Footnote 6:
  • Barnes alleges that the Law is due to Aristotle rather than to Leibniz.
Footnote 7:
  • The papers reviewed by Bayliss (and the review itself) are all rather old, so I’ve not selected for further study all the papers reviewed in this brief article.

Note last updated: 15/10/2017 23:44:10


Footnote 11.3: (Relative Identity)

Plug1 Note






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 4: I’m not sure if this is the correct terminology.

Footnote 5: See "Tobia (Kevin Patrick) - Personal Identity and the Phineas Gage Effect".

Footnote 9:
  • So, Phineas Gage continues to be the same substance (human being – or maybe human animal) despite a radical change of personality.
  • See my Note on Personality (eventually! - Click here for Note) for the individuation and persistence of “personalities”. Just what sort of thing are they? Universals? Tropes?
Footnote 11: As this list includes several whole books, it might be a bit much, though this is an important topic.

Footnote 12: I doubt this paper is really about Relative Identity, but more about Brain Transplants.

Note last updated: 05/07/2015 10:53:46


Footnote 11.4: (Vague Identity)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 4:
  • I’m not sure if this is the correct terminology.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.
Footnote 9:
  • 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.
Footnote 10:
  • It looks like Olson uses “imperfect” as an amalgamated metaphysical / epistemological claim.

Note last updated: 17/01/2018 13:43:41


Footnote 11.5: (Indeterminate Identity)

Plug Note1

  • The orthodox approach to the Logic of Identity is to treat it as a necessary equivalence relation. I follow this approach.
  • However, in response to various TEs, deviant forms4 of Identity have been devised, and some are still popular.
  • However, the logic of identity is so secure that it is sensible to look for other explanations of any TE that appears to bring it into doubt.
  • Two seemingly related suggestions are Vague Identity (VI) and Indeterminate Identity (II, this Note).
  • I’m not sure of the distinction between VI and II, having studied neither in any detail, but:-
    1. I’d have thought that VI is a metaphysical claim alongside the suggestion – allegedly refuted by Evans – that there can be vague objects.
    2. In contrast to this, II sounds like an epistemological claim – that there are identity claims the truth-values of which we cannot know.
    3. The above distinction is somewhat moot if the puzzle of Vagueness is seen as at root epistemological, as by Timothy Williamson.
    4. To make matters worse, there are at least two other terms used:-
      → “Indefinite Identity”, and
      → “Imperfect Identity”
      Both these terms sound metaphysical, so I’ve assumed (for now) that they are the same as “Vague Identity”.
  • However, a quick look through the abstract of the papers on the reading lists suggests that the two notions are related – in that papers titled as related to one actually seem to relate to the other. Parsons’s book below looks like a good study of the whole topic but uses II to mean indeterminacy in the world, which is a metaphysical claim.
  • I intend to cover these topics in Chapter 4 along with the other deviant approaches to Identity.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read8, include9 the following:-
    1. "Parsons (Terence) - Indeterminate Identity: Analytical Table of Contents", Parsons
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
    1. "Cartwright (Helen Morris) - On Two Arguments for the Indeterminacy of Personal Identity", Cartwright
    2. "Heck (Richard) - Is Indeterminate Identity Coherent", Heck
    3. "Olson (Eric) - Imperfect Identity", Olson10
    4. "Pinillos (N. Ángel) - Counting and Indeterminate Identity", Pinillos
    5. "Parsons (Terence) - Indeterminate Identity", Parsons
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 4:
  • I’m not sure if this is the correct terminology.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.
Footnote 9:
  • 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.
Footnote 10:
  • It looks like Olson uses “imperfect” as an amalgamated metaphysical / epistemological claim.

Note last updated: 17/01/2018 13:43:41


Footnote 11.6: (Contingent Identity)

Plug1 Note

  • The orthodox approach to the Logic of Identity is to treat it as a necessary equivalence relation. I follow this approach.
  • However, in response to various TEs, deviant forms4 of Identity have been devised, and some are still popular.
  • Contingent Identity arose5 in the paper by Alan Gibbard listed below, which considers the TE of the Statue and the Clay.
  • The TE relates to the topic of Constitution. We are to consider a statue and the lump of clay of which is constituted. If we arrange things carefully, the two might coincidentally come into and go out of existence at the same time. If so, are they not identical, given that they would seem to have all the same properties? Yet, they might not have been temporally coincident – in the normal case, the lump would be formed first, and only slowly be sculpted into a statue. So, they are only contingently identical, the argument goes. And this TE shows (it is said) that far from being a necessary relation, identity may only contingently hold.
  • The logic of identity is so secure that it is sensible to look for other explanations of the TE. Of course, the divination of just what is wrong with the TE are many, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the TE is misleading for any of these reasons.
  • Baker, for instance, has “relation to an art world” as one of the properties the Statue has which is not had by the Lump. So, by Leibniz’s Law, the two are never identical.
  • I’m suspicious of any TE involving artefacts.
  • See also the Note on modality.
  • I intend to cover this topic in Chapter_4 along with the other deviant approaches to Identity.
  • The study-list for this topic would include:-
    1. "Carter (William) - Contingent Identity and Rigid Designation", Carter
    2. "Carter (William) - On Contingent Identity and Temporal Worms", Carter
    3. "Gallois (Andre) - Rigid Designation and the Contingency of Identity", Gallois
    4. "Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity", Gibbard
    5. "Keefe (Rosanna) - Contingent Identity and Vague Identity", Keefe
    6. "Lowe (E.J.) - Necessity and Identity", Lowe
  • This is a place-holder. See the categorised reading-list below.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 4: I’m not sure if this is the correct terminology.

Footnote 5: Or at least was brought to my attention as an undergraduate.

Note last updated: 04/07/2015 17:41:17


Footnote 11.7: (Occasional Identity)

Plug1 Note

  • The orthodox approach to the Logic of Identity is to treat it as a necessary equivalence relation. I follow this approach.
  • However, in response to various TEs, deviant forms4 of Identity have been devised, and some are still popular.
  • However, the logic of identity is so secure that it is sensible to look for other explanations of any TE that appears to bring it in doubt.
  • Occasional identity is a response to TEs such as the fission of an amoeba into two qualitatively identical ones. We want to say that both are numerically identical to the parent, but the logic of identity forbids this unless we claim that the two daughters are numerically identical to one another6. So, the claim is that they were once identical (and co-incident), but now are not.
  • This makes numerical identity into a temporary (hence “occasional”) matter.
  • My preferred answer to this TE is to appeal to perdurance – the daughters were always distinct, but just shared their pre-fission stages. There are other explanations.
  • I intend to cover this topic in Chapter_4 along with the other deviant approaches to Identity.
  • The study-list for this topic is much shorter than for related topics, as it only includes a whole book and a review thereof:-
    1. "Gallois (Andre) - Occasions of Identity : a Study in the Metaphysics of Persistence, Change, and Sameness", Gallois
    2. "Sider (Ted) - Review of André Gallois, Occasions of Identity", Sider9
  • This is a place-holder. See the categorised reading-list below.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 4: I’m not sure if this is the correct terminology.

Footnote 6: Even this seemingly-impossible claim has been supported. See "Miller (Kristie) - Travelling in Time: How to Wholly Exist in Two Places at the Same Time".

Footnote 9: Read and analyse this first – it may not be worth bothering with the book, unless it sheds light on the topic as a whole.

Note last updated: 06/07/2015 18:30:14


Footnote 12: (Physicalism)

Plug Note1

  • Basically, I reject any form of mind-body dualism2 or immaterialist monism. There are no souls, if a soul is an immaterial substance separable from a body.
  • But, I need to investigate Dean Zimmerman’s recent “emergent dualism” (see "Zimmerman (Dean) - Reply to Baker's 'Christians Should Reject Mind-Body Dualism'"), despite the fact that his main motivation is a desire to conform to a traditionalist reading of Christian doctrine.
  • Given my focus on physicalism, I will need to give some attention to the identity and persistence criteria5 of material objects as such.
  • There are too many versions of physicalism for its endorsement to deliver much without clarification, so I will need to pursue the matter in some detail.
  • For the moment, I simply wish to note (or claim) that:
    1. “The physical” encompasses both body and brain6 (ie. the physical criterion of personal identity would be satisfied if continuity of brain were essential for the persistence of the person).
    2. The brain is more important than other physical organs for the persistence of the human being8 or the human person.
  • Consequently, I think it worthwhile to conduct a detailed investigation into the functional roles of the various parts of the brain, CNS (Central Nervous System) and PNS (peripheral ...) and how these and the residue of the body are coupled together. Such matters may be relevant to the realism of the various thought experiments about brain transplants11, cerebrum transplants and such-like.
  • It is, however, debatable how important these details are. For example, debates seem to continue about the possible identity of pain and C-fibre-firing, when it’s now acknowledged by all the participants in such debates that the physical realisation of pain-states in mammals requires a lot more than C-fibres. The assumption seems to be that the details don’t matter and that similar arguments could be constructed whatever the physical realisation of mental states might be.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read12, include13 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 12:
  • 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.
Footnote 13:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 12.2: (Dualism)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 2: Footnote 4:
  • I may need to think this through a bit more.
  • The argument would go – from “Sunday school dualism” – that if we have souls, then we can’t be animals, as animals don’t have souls.
  • But, dualism is really only claiming that the mental cannot be reduced to the physical. But if this is true of human beings – whatever they are – then it is true of human animals, and all animals with minds. So, the topic might be orthogonal to animalism – the claim that we are animals.
  • That said, there is a tradition of treating dualism as more sympathetic to the psychological view of personal identity, that our persistence conditions are mental, which animalism claims to be irrelevant to our identity.
Footnote 7:
  • Well, resurrection of (sufficient of) a corpse would be metaphysically possible, but following the total destruction of the body, there is nothing to carry the identity of the individual.

Note last updated: 01/08/2017 00:11:31


Footnote 12.5: (Persistence Criteria)

Plug Note1

  • I will cover both persistence criteria and persistence conditions under this head.
  • Maybe the former term (“criteria”) focuses on epistemology (how we know something has persisted) and the latter (“conditions”) on metaphysics (what it takes for something to persist).
  • I suspect David Shoemaker – in "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Immortality" – of confusing the two (despite his explicit acknowledgement of the distinction) in his rejection of the soul criterion.
  • In brief, the persistence conditions for an object of a particular kind are the necessary and sufficient conditions for it persist, that is, to continue in existence.
  • With respect to our persistence criteria, David Shoemaker considers the following possibilities:-
    1. Soul Criterion
    2. Body Criterion
    3. Memory Criterion
    4. Brain-based Memory Criterion
    5. Psychological Criterion
    6. Biological Criterion
  • The first four feature in "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Immortality".
  • The final two in "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity, Rational Anticipation, and Self-Concern".
  • In "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Self-Regarding Ethics - Alternative Approaches" Shoemaker considers two other alternatives:-
    1. Narrative Identity, and
    2. Identity Doesn’t Matter.
  • Most of the work of this Note will probably be undertaken under the guise of pursuing the Notes above.
  • This Note will also overlap to some extent with those on:-
    Criteria of Identity, and
    Persistence.
  • Consequently, this Note has no reading list of its own, though it seems to have a categorised reading list containing miscategorised items.
  • This is mostly a place-holder.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 08/02/2018 18:24:29


Footnote 12.6: (Brain)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 9: Where?

Footnote 11:
  • I need to check this.
  • The idea is that in some lower animals, regulation is distributed throughout the body, with the brain playing a less central role.
  • This is true of the octopus – a highly intelligent animal – with many neurones distributed throughout its tentacles.
  • The same is also true (though to a lesser extent) of human animals – the PNS undertakes various co-ordinating functions, which is why brain-transplant TEs are somewhat simplistic.
  • However, maybe I need to distinguish between different neural functions – regulation, coordination, sensation, etc.
Footnote 29:
  • 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.
Footnote 30:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 24/04/2018 00:12:58


Footnote 12.8: (Human Beings)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 24:
  • 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.
Footnote 25:
  • 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.
Footnote 26:
  • I’ve not listed the essays appearing in this collection.

Note last updated: 27/02/2018 23:58:34


Footnote 12.11: (Transplants)

Plug Note1

  • From the standpoint of Personal Identity, the most significant transplants are Brain Transplants, which have their own Note.
  • In the context of animalism, however – where it is said (by Olson) that the brain is just another organ – there is less reason for Brain Transplants to receive centre-stage.
  • But, the animalist must still consider whether an organism can survive the transplant of “lesser” organs, and which – if any – transplants it cannot survive. We certainly accept that major-organ transplants – and even a complex of organs such as heart/lungs – preserve the human animal (and person).
  • Are there any limits beyond which we cannot go? Do we have to allow for a case of fusion in extreme circumstances? Is there a “core” of the animal that preserves identity while peripheral organs are swapped out?
  • What about inorganic transplants? Is the human animal preserved, and does it incorporate the transplanted organs, or are they useful appendages (like clothes) that are external to it. Alternatively, do we then have a cyborg? What about implants that affect our mentation?
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read11, include12 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 11:
  • 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.
Footnote 12:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 13: (Survival)

Plug Note1

  • I need to distinguish two interpretations of Parfit2 according to whether survival and identity are or are not equated.
  • Also, by “survival” does Parfit mean the same as other philosophers mean by “persistence3”?
  • A standard Parfitian claim is that “what matters in survival is not identity”. Parfit is right that the issue isn’t necessarily “am I (A) identical to B or C”, but “will I have what matters4 in survival if B, or C, or both survive”, and that the reason the two questions are elided is that they don’t usually come apart.
  • However, there’s incoherence in an expression such as “will I survive as B”, if I’m not supposed identical to B, since survival and this use of the personal pronoun seem to imply identity.
  • Also in an expression such as “will I have what matters”, to what does the “I5” refer if I’m assumed not to persist? To my present self only? I might now see that I might be happy that a certain future state of affairs, not involving me, appertains, but I would then not have what matters, nor indeed have anything at all.
  • So, I think we do need to distinguish, with Parfit, identity from what matters in survival. His idea seems to be that we can have what matters in survival without surviving.
  • Parfit’s concerns are fundamentally ethical, with Buddhist tendencies. He’s trying to remove self6 from ethics and persuade us that we don’t need self, and therefore don’t need self-identity.
  • Parfit’s claim, which I believe to be false, is that we don’t really care about our persistence as such, but about the survival of our projects, which can as well or better be prosecuted by others. But we are more selfish than that, and in many circumstances justifiably so.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read7, include8 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 7:
  • 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.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 13.2: (Parfit)

Plug1 Note






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 2: 10 years ago as I write in July 2015.

Footnote 12: I’ve ignored here those many papers on “what matters” that are not specifically related to Parfit.

Note last updated: 04/07/2015 10:10:34


Footnote 13.3: (Persistence)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 11: And the rest of Part 1 of "Hirsch (Eli) - The Concept of Identity".

Footnote 12: And other Chapters in "Lowe (E.J.) - The Possibility of Metaphysics: Substance, Identity and Time".

Footnote 13:
  • The Bibliography – and the Seminnar – cover much beyond Persistence as such.
  • I need to extract the relevant items to the various sub-topics.

Note last updated: 14/01/2017 20:18:14


Footnote 13.4: (What Matters)

Plug Note1

  • This section will cover part of the discussion of Parfit’s claims that we can have what matters to us in survival without the need for identity. That is, if the individual who follows on from us experiences good things or fulfils our projects, then provided that individual is sufficiently close to us, or those projects are sufficiently close to ours, we will have what matters to us even if that individual is not – strictly-speaking – us.
  • The situation envisaged is where the logic of identity – maybe as a result of fission – means that it is logically impossible that we should survive some vicissitude. In those circumstances it’s not mere quibbles over identity that matter to us, but those benefits that are usually concomitant with identity.
  • It seems obvious that our survival matters to us, or at least some of the benefits of surviving matter to us. If we don’t survive, we can have none of those benefits of survival. Such questions come up in trying to explain why death is bad for the one who dies.
  • However, the question has been raised that some people (eg. those contemplating suicide) don’t want to persist, so persistence doesn’t matter to them. I think it does – persistence matters, though maybe persisting doesn’t. What I mean is that whether they persist or not matters to persons, who can anticipate – in a good or bad light, accurately or not – the future. If things get too bad (or are perceived to be that way), it may be important to them that they don’t persist. In the normal case, it’s important that they do. Either way, persistence matters to them.
  • Where I differ from (an interpretation of) Parfit is that it’s not just my projects that matter to me. If I had a worthwhile project and I died before completing it – but someone else completed it for me (like Mozart’s Requiem or "Wittgenstein (Ludwig) - Philosophical Investigations") – then – provided it was done competently – that would be a good thing. If this happened to all my outstanding projects, even those I’d not started, that would be better. But it would not be as good as – or even the same thing as – my completing them myself. Sometimes the journey is as good as the arrival, and even where it isn’t it is often an extra good. I would miss out.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read7, include8 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 7:
  • 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.
Footnote 8:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 13.5: (I)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 02/07/2017 10:36:29


Footnote 13.6: (Self)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 5: There is no unanimity on what a person is; but it will be worth taking candidate definitions and see whether we would be willing to assign selfhood to some non-persons.

Footnote 7: We are referred to "Seth (Anil K.) - Interoceptive inference, emotion, and the embodied self".

Footnote 8: We are referred to "Ehrsson (H. Henrik) - The Experimental Induction of Out-of-Body Experiences".

Footnote 9: We are referred to "Haggard (Patrick) - Human volition: towards a neuroscience of will".

Footnote 10:
  • We are referred to “Mechanisms of Social Cognition” by Chris & Uta Frith, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 63:287-313 (January 2012)
  • I don’t have access to this, but the abstract is as below ↓
    1. Social animals including humans share a range of social mechanisms that are automatic and implicit and enable learning by observation. Learning from others includes imitation of actions and mirroring of emotions. Learning about others, such as their group membership and reputation, is crucial for social interactions that depend on trust.
    2. For accurate prediction of others' changeable dispositions, mentalizing is required, i.e., tracking of intentions, desires, and beliefs.
    3. Implicit mentalizing is present in infants less than one year old as well as in some nonhuman species.
    4. Explicit mentalizing is a meta-cognitive process and enhances the ability to learn about the world through self-monitoring and reflection, and may be uniquely human.
    5. Meta-cognitive processes can also exert control over automatic behavior, for instance, when short-term gains oppose long-term aims or when selfish and prosocial interests collide. We suggest that they also underlie the ability to explicitly share experiences with other agents, as in reflective discussion and teaching. These are key in increasing the accuracy of the models of the world that we construct.
Footnote 12: Alexander thinks that we are Selves, and that Selves are tropes – abstract particulars – which by my lights is about as far from the truth as you can get, so I need to consider his arguments carefully.

Note last updated: 02/07/2017 10:36:29


Footnote 14: (Physical Continuity)

Plug Note1

  • In addition to considering just what contiguity and causal conditions a physical object needs to satisfy in order to persist, I need to consider a couple of related issues:
    1. Intermittent Objects3: can things go in and out of existence? Does the disassembled bicycle still exist in a dispersed state?
    2. Mereology4: is the content of any region of spacetime – whether spatially or temporally contiguous or disconnected – or a thing?
  • What do decisions here have to say about the possibility of resurrection or reincarnation6? Is a physicalist able, even in principle, to allow the possibility of disembodied survival, resurrection or reincarnation, given the need for a continuing physical substance to which the individual is identical? Some Christians are physicalists8, and Peter Van Inwagen has (as a wild speculation - see "Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Possibility of Resurrection") God miraculously swapping out and preserving our corpses so he can resurrect the same individuals in due course.
  • I need to consider (but expect to reject) such suggestions.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read9, include10 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 9:
  • 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.
Footnote 10:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 05/02/2018 20:02:24


Footnote 14.3: (Intermittent Objects)

  1. I allude to the possibility of intermittent existence in these Notes:-
    • Artefacts,
    • Persons,
    • Constitution,
    • Phase Sortals,
    • Physical Continuity,
    • Resurrection.
  2. Artefacts
    • Are the classic cases of possibly intermediate objects, in that the same object can be disassembled and then reassembled, and it is usually thought that the reassembled object is numerically identical to the original.
    • But it is not clear whether the watch (say) ceases to exist when disassembled for cleaning, or whether it continues to exist in a scattered state. The recipient of a bag of watch-parts would still consider they had received their watch back, even if annoyed at having to reassemble it themselves.
    • But, as with all things artefactual, there’s a question whether our intuitions are conventional, and could be otherwise. My gut-feel, however, is that disassembled artefacts just exist in a disassembled, scattered state, rather than ceasing to exist. Hence, disassembled artefacts are examples of scattered objects rather than of intermittent objects.
    • I suppose the counter-argument might be that artefacts are the things they are for functional reasons, but does a disassembled thing have a function (or, at any rate, the same function it had when assembled)? I imagine we could say that an object might be delivered in kit-form, and then assembled, and it is probably arbitrary (or can be stipulated) whether the kit is of the same kind as the object or not.
    • The Write-up of "Carter (William) - Artifacts of Theseus: Fact and Fission" covers all this in more detail9.
  3. Persons
    • When it comes to Persons, it’s the possession of certain capacities, not the present exercise of them, that qualifies an individual as a person.
    • David Wiggins holds the view that a person is one who belongs to a kind whose typical members possess some open-ended list of properties.
    • In that case, a foetus or someone in a PVS would still be a person. They would not “intermit” while in that state.
    • However, on a “present capacity” view, they would not qualify as persons in such a state, and a person might have intermittent existence. For instance if I were to fall into, and then recover from, a PVS I would not be a person when in the PVS, but would on recovery again be a person, and (importantly) the same person.
    • So, someone like Baker might be committed to persons as intermittent objects because she thinks of human persons as ontologically separate from the human animals that constitute them.
    • However, an animalist like Olson would not be so committed. For the animalist, it’s the animal that’s the persisting thing, and the animal persists throughout the PVS.
    • I’m not sure what Olson’s view is of the ontological status of persons (I don’t think he considers them a kind); they are just individuals of another kind (most notably human animals) with special, maybe temporary, properties.
  4. Phase Sortals
    • My view is that human persons are phase sortals of human animals.
    • So, I side with Olson as against Baker in the controversy about what Persons are.
    • While persons are ontologically significant, this does not bring into being a new kind of PERSON, but raises the status of the kind whose typical members are persons (and of the individuals who are persons, of course).
    • So, I do not think that persons – at least persons falling under the kind HUMAN ANIMAL – can have intermittent existence. A fetus or a human animal in a PVS remains the same human animal.
  5. Constitution
  6. Physical Continuity
    • This topic addresses – amongst much else – both scattered objects and intermittent objects, the former intermitting in space, the latter in time (and maybe in space as well).
    • So, if persons are things constituted by other things, then the person intermits during a PVS, but there is no physical discontinuity.
    • But, as Baker believes, the very same person can be constituted by different bodies at different times, then there must necessarily be persistence in the absence of spatio-temporal continuity, which it usually taken as a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for persistence.
    • This leads on to our next topic.
  7. Resurrection
    • The possibility of Resurrection is the main reason for my interest in intermittent objects.
    • Clearly, if we are to claim that the very same individual who died is resurrected somewhere else (maybe not a place as such, though it is difficult to envisage bodies that are not at places) at some other time (or not in time – but similar worries apply) then we have an intermittent object.
    • This process (or fiat) would also seem to involve some sort of metamorphosis, though maybe the Constitution View does not worry about such things, as it is the constituted person that persists, not the constituting body.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 9: Or will do, once I’ve completed it!

Note last updated: 04/07/2014 22:46:34


Footnote 14.4: (Mereology)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 17:
  • 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.
Footnote 18:
  • 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.
Footnote 19:
  • This list is rather too long but, even so, much of interest has been omitted.

Note last updated: 24/04/2018 00:12:58


Footnote 14.6: (Reincarnation)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 6:
  • 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.
Footnote 7:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 03/03/2018 00:11:31


Footnote 14.8: (Christian Materialism)

Plug1 Note






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 6: To be checked & corrected in due course.

Footnote 7:
  • Actually this has become rather an exhaustive list – there’s lots of interesting stuff to get through.
  • As a mitigant, many of these papers will be covered under other Notes.
Footnote 8: Works by, or about, Lynne Rudder Baker are mostly covered elsewhere – eg: Click here for Note.

Footnote 9: Corcoran is very much a supporter of Lynne Rudder Baker.

Footnote 10:
  • Murphy is only the (co-)editor of two of these books, and many / most of the contributors will have Christian affiliation of some sort (probably Catholic).
  • However, I have not listed the other contributors / editors directly unless they are otherwise well-known (to me).
  • I have, however, listed Murphy’s contributions to the edited collections.
Footnote 11:
  • There are so many potentially-relevant papers by Van Inwagen that I’ve had to decide whether to list them all or only some …
  • “All” is more useful, without repeating those in the books listed – except from anthologies edited by Van Inwagen.
Footnote 12:
  • I’m not sure how committed (if at all) Lowe was to Christianity, nor how important he was as a philosopher (he died in 2014).
  • He did once argue for the modal ontological argument against Oppy, but in "Bourget (David) & Chalmers (David) - What Do Philosophers Believe?" he’s only down as “leaning towards” theism.
  • The TLS Obituary (Link (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/people/jonathan-lowe-1950-2014/2010845.article)) described him as “one of the leading philosophers of his generation” but made no mention of any religious faith.
  • See his Durham page: Link (https://www.dur.ac.uk/philosophy/ejlowepages/).
  • This list may therefore be too much.
Footnote 13: I’ve not bought the book as it is too expensive!

Footnote 14: This (rather than hylomorphic) is the chosen spelling!

Note last updated: 31/08/2015 00:15:50


Footnote 15: (Psychological Continuity)

Plug Note1

  • Following on from discussions on survival, maybe the way to put things is that without psychological continuity I might survive, but not with what matters to me in survival.
  • If PERSON is a phase sortal of HUMAN ANIMAL, can there be sequential but different persons within the same animal (as Lewis7 suggests, though not from the perspective of animalism, in his “Methuselah” case) or can there be different and encapsulated First Person Perspectives (either synchronically or diachronically) within the same animal?
  • “Person” may indeed come apart from “animal”, but even then, the person cannot “float free” of the animal, but supervenes upon it.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read12, include13 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 12:
  • 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.
Footnote 13:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 24/04/2018 11:26:53


Footnote 15.7: (Lewis)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 13:
  • 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.
Footnote 14:
  • 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.
Footnote 15: Footnote 16:

Note last updated: 06/03/2018 21:21:36


Footnote 16: (Continuity)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 6:
  • I don’t think this “gradual” means “slowly”, though this will usually be the case.
  • What is needed is for there to be many intermediate steps to allow continuity.
  • Each change involved in each of the steps has to be “minor”.
  • All this is somewhat vague.
Footnote 14:
  • 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.
Footnote 15:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 05/02/2018 20:02:24


Footnote 16.3: (Change)

Plug Note1

  • Change is obviously the central problem that questions of identity address. Just what changes can an object undergo while remaining the same thing?
  • That said, I’m not clear whether there will be much extra to say here other than what is covered under the heads of persistence and such like.
  • Maybe just two things for now:-
    1. If I understand things aright, change is something that happens to substances, and the question of identity is whether or not that substance remains the same substance after some change. Change is not relevant (or at least persistence through change isn’t relevant) under (at least) a couple of philosophical positions:-
      1. If we adopt a mereological essentialist position, whereby the things that exist are regions of space-time and their contents. Then, a things just is a collection of particles, and if one of these is destroyed, then so is the thing. This leads to the denial that there are any ordinary things, like chairs or animals, as they are always losing and gaining parts, and so only exist as the same thing momentarily.
      2. If we adopt a perdurantist account of persistence, the things that exist are space-time worms. A thing is not wholly present at a time, only its temporal stage is. The thing as a whole exists timelessly. Does the thing therefore change? Maybe not, but questions of persistence still apply, though maybe only pragmatically. Just what aggregate of stages are usefully described as a persisting thing? A four-dimensional naturalist might insist that exemplars of natural kinds – particularly organisms – have a greater claim to existence than arbitrary assemblages of stages.
    2. Another important matter is that (on many accounts) it is the rate of change that is critical. Everyone seems to agree that you cannot just swap out all the parts of a thing at the same time and claim that you have the same thing, whereas the assumption is that a thing can persist through change (pace the views in the bullet above) provided the changes occur slowly enough and piecemeal enough. After all, organisms replace all their parts over time (it is said) yet remain the same organism (ditto). It strikes me that there’s a degree of vagueness about how quickly the changes can take place without violating the persistence conditions of the object. Also, in the case of organisms, historically it has been supposed that the changes would take place naturally, but transplant surgery allows unnatural change. The transplanted organ will either by assimilated or rejected by the organism. If it is assimilated, especially if it’s hidden from view, we don’t feel any qualms about saying that is has become part of the organism, which has persisted through the change. I’m doubtful if we’d be so comfortable about the successful transplantation of visible parts, like limbs, particularly if only “accepted” by the use of immunosuppressant drugs.
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
    1. "Arnold (Keith) - The Subject of Radical Change", Arnold, 1978
    2. "Aune (Bruce) - Changing Things", Aune, 1985
    3. "Baxter (Donald L.M.) - Loose Identity and Becoming Something Else", Baxter, 2001
    4. "Bottani (Andrea C.) - The Puzzle of Change", Bottani, 2001
    5. "Brody (Baruch) - The Theory of Change", Brody, 1980
    6. "Browning (Douglas) - Sameness Through Change and the Coincidence of Properties", Browning, 1988
    7. "Campbell (Scott) - Rapid Psychological Change", Campbell, 2004
    8. "Carter (William) - Change", Carter, 1990
    9. "Denkel (Arda) - Theon’s Tale: Does a Cambridge Change Result in a Substantial Change?", Denkel, 1995
    10. "Haslanger (Sally) - Persistence, Change, and Explanation", Haslanger, 1989
    11. "Heller (Mark) - Things Change", Heller, 1992
    12. "Hinchliff (Mark) - The Puzzle of Change", Hinchliff, 1996
    13. "LePoidevin (Robin) - Change", LePoidevin, 2003
    14. "Lowe (E.J.) - How Real Is Substantial Change?", Lowe, 2006
    15. "Lowe (E.J.) - Identity Over Time and Change Of Composition", Lowe, 2002
    16. "Mellor (D.H.) - Change", Mellor, 1998
    17. "Mortensen (Chris) - Change and Inconsistency", Mortensen, 2015
    18. "Ujvari (Marta) - Cambridge Change and Sortal Essentialism", Ujvari, 2004
    19. Also, see Bob Doyle: Change (http://metaphysicist.com/problems/change/).
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, mostly see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 14/01/2017 20:18:14


Footnote 16.4: (Psychological View)

Plug Note1

  • This is the view, originating with Locke, that the matter of primary importance in matters of personal identity is the psychological continuity (or maybe of psychological connectedness).
  • No-one denies that our psychology is important to us, but making it constitutive of our identity has led to much confusion and paradox.
  • In particular it encourages the idea that the same human being may not be the same person throughout its life, or that the same person may “hop” from one human being to another.
  • I wish to deny both these possibilities.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read9, include10 the following:-
  • A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
  • This is mostly a place-holder. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 9:
  • 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.
Footnote 10:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 11/03/2018 20:19:41


Footnote 16.5: (Properties)

Plug Note1






In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.

Note last updated: 16/10/2017 10:43:41


Footnote 16.10: (Connectedness vs Continuity)

Plug Note1

  • When defining persistence conditions, we need to distinguish between connectedness and continuity.
    1. Continuity is a transitive relation that relates adjacent stages.
    2. Connectedness is intransitive and requires enough of the properties of interest to be maintained over time.
  • At root, this is just the message of the Old Soldier, raised against Locke, and answered by Ancestrals of the “remembers” relation.
  • Indeed, "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings" (Journal of Philosophy, p. 61) describes Continuity as the ancestral of Connectedness.
  • Persons – like animals – develop and “grow5”. We can admit that we have the same animal from fetus to corpse (with some arguments about the termini). However, do we have the same person?
  • I’d contend that whatever physical and psychological discontinuities the human animal undergoes, we do have the same person where we have a person at all, provided a single First Person Perspective (FPP) is maintained.
  • If one’s character changes radically over time, do you remain the same person? Yes, if we want the child and the adult to be the same person (as we do), or the convert to be the same person as the unbeliever.
  • The relevance of this to the present debate is that it is continuity that is relevant to personal identity, and not connectedness. This applies whatever view of Personal Identity we hold.
  • Derek Parfit – who doesn’t think identity is what matters – holds a different view; that it is connectedness that matters, and so we need have no concern for future selves that are psychologically unconnected to our current selves. I think this view is mistaken, as we are locked in to a FPP and will have to experience the fate of that future self, however unconnected.
  • Works on this topic that I’ve actually read12, include13 the following:-
    1. "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity, Rational Anticipation, and Self-Concern", Shoemaker
  • I don’t – and won’t – have a Note on Connectedness per se: this Note will cover all I have to say on the topic.
  • However, this note is linked to two others:-
    Continuity, and
    Methuselah.
  • So, a rather diminutive reading list might start with:-
    1. "Belzer (Marvin) - Notes on Relation R", Belzer
    2. "Campbell (Scott) - Is Connectedness Necessary to What Matters in Survival?", Campbell
  • This is mostly a place-holder.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 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.
Footnote 5:
  • Not necessarily physically – that would be begging the question as to what persons are.
Footnote 12:
  • 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.
Footnote 13:
  • 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.

Note last updated: 04/02/2018 17:09:36


Footnote 17: (Body)

Plug Note1