Theo Todman's Web Page

For Text Colour-conventions (at end of page): Click Here

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:-

  • Concepts1
  • Causation2
  • Change3
  • Consciousness4
  • Free Will5
  • Intuition and Thought Experiments6
  • Modality7
  • Natural Kinds8
  • Psychopathology9
  • Substance10
  • 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 3.1 Repeated. See Footnote 22: (Concepts)


Footnote 3.2 Repeated. See Footnote 38: (Causality)


Footnote 3.3 Repeated. See Footnote 16.3: (Change)


Footnote 3.4 Repeated. See Footnote 20.11: (Consciousness)


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 4:
  • There is no doubt some truth in this.
  • However, not all wrong-doers had bad starts in life, and I suspect that many who did would prefer to take the punishment if the alternative is the real loss of freedom in a rehabilitation programme.
  • Compare the Soviet view that dissidents are insane and need curing.
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:
  • I’ve restricted the list almost exclusively to books, and not all of those in the categorised reading list are included!

Note last updated: 21/10/2018 18:48:58


Footnote 3.5.6: (Aristotle - Sea Battle)

What follows is a pre-submitted BA Finals essay written February 2004 in my last year at Birkbeck. I have left the text untouched.

‘If it is true that there will be a sea-battle tomorrow, it is necessary that there will be a sea-battle tomorrow.’ How does Aristotle escape this consequence?

  1. To answer this question we must address Chapter 9 of Aristotle’s De Interpretatione. In [18a28-18b25], Aristotle gives the argument for fatalism. He follows this up with the consequences of and objections to fatalism1. Finally [19a23-19b4] he gives his solution to the problem, the “traditional” interpretation being that Aristotle denies that future singulars2 have truth-values.
  2. The argument for fatalism
    • The argument proceeds as follows:
      1. The past is unalterable.
      2. Precisely one of the following statements is true:
        • 2.1 There will be a sea-battle tomorrow.
        • 2.2 There will not be a sea-battle tomorrow.
      3. Whichever of 2.1 or 2.2 is true, it was true in the past. Without loss of generality, we’ll assume 2.1.
      4. Because the past is unalterable, we can now do nothing to make false the statement that was true in the past.
      5. Hence, 2.1 is necessarily true, and the future is as unalterable as the past.
    • What support do we have for this interpretation from the text? Aristotle doesn’t explicitly mention the unalterability of the past, but he does make use of arguments involving past truth at two points:
      • “If it is white or is not white, then it was true to say or deny this.” [18b1]
      • “Again, if it is white now it was true to say earlier that it would be white; so that it was always true to say of anything that has happened that it would be so.” [18b9-10]
    • Since the past has happened it was, in retrospect, always true to predict it. The hidden assumption here is that the past is unalterable. If the past could be changed, then a past true statement could be falsified and it would not have been possible to have made necessarily true predictions in the yet more remote past.
      • “It follows that nothing either is or is happening, or will be or will not be, by chance or as chance has it, but everything of necessity.” [18b5-6]
      • “But if it was always true to say that it was so, or would be so, it could not not be so, or not be going to be so … Everything that will be, therefore, happens necessarily.” [18b11-12,15]
    • Deliberation about what to do is obviated because someone might in the past have made a true statement about our future, which would then be fixed [18b31-2]. Actual vocalisation of a truth-claim is not required. It’s enough that someone might or could have said it [18b36-8]. Aristotle’s conclusion [19a1-4] is again that truth-values necessitate states of affairs for the whole of time.
    • The question here is why Aristotle deduces the necessity of the future? For Aristotle, the truth-value of a past true statement is a fact about the past, and there’s nothing we can do to change it, therefore making its claim about the future necessary. Aristotle sees symmetry between the past and the future. If statements about the future have fixed truth-values, then the future that corresponds to them must be fixed, just as if the past is fixed, the truth-values of more remote past predictions are fixed.
    • This covers most of the argument. We might, however, ask whether Aristotle relies on the argument from the fixity of the past, or whether this is merely a supporting consideration. Aristotle on numerous occasions demonstrates the assumption of a correspondence theory of truth – that if a statement is true (or false) the corresponding state of affairs that the statement is about must obtain (or not). This itself seems to imply fatalism on the assumption that future singulars have truth-values. We saw this at [18b11-12], but see also3:
      • “For if it is true to say that it is white or is not white, it is necessary for it to be white or not white.” [18a39-18b1]
      • “For what anyone has truly said would be the case cannot not happen” [19a4-5]
    • The causative direction is from fact to truth, and not vice-versa:
      • “So, since statements are true according to how the actual things are.” [19a32]
    • The question is whether these passages introduce a modal fallacy (p → ☐p). While this depends on what strength Aristotle gives here to “necessary”, the argument from the fixity of the past means that Aristotle need not rely on the brute assumption of a correspondence theory.
  3. Objections to fatalism
    • Aristotle, along with most of us, thinks that the future is open: chance and deliberation play a part in what the future will be. Deliberation, and not just action, brings things about [19a7-10]. What has not yet happened has the possibility of happening or not happening. Aristotle’s example is of a cloak [19a11-15] that is expected to wear out, but may be prevented from so doing by being cut up first. Because deliberation is useful and the future is open Aristotle argues that it’s obvious that there’s something wrong with the fatalist’s case.
  4. Aristotle’s Solution
    • Since Aristotle seems to support the logic of the fatalist’s argument, why does he reject its conclusion? Aristotle denies premise (2) of the argument. To see this, we need to return to the first paragraph of Chapter 9:
      • “[18a28] With regard to what is and what has been it is necessary for the affirmation or the negation to be true or false. [18a29] And with universals taken universally it is always necessary for one to be true and the other false, [18a31] and with particulars too, as we have said; [18a32] but with universals not spoken of universally it is not necessary. [18a33] But with particulars that are going to be it is different.”
    • Future singulars are going to be “different”, but to what? The opening paragraph is dealing with the truth-values of contradictory pairs of statements. At this point we need to introduce what Whitaker [1996] calls the RCP (Rule of Contradictory Pairs): that precisely one of a pair of contradictory statements – such as our premise (2) – is true and the other false.
    • Ackrill [1963] takes [18a29-32] to be an expansion of [18a28], thereby giving [18a29] a different meaning to [18a28], of which it covers only a part (ie. excluding “universals not spoken of universally”). Consequently, [18a28] should be read as “… necessary that the affirmation (and equally that the negation) should be either true or false” – that is, that each of a contradictory pair of statements must have a definite truth-value of truth or falsehood. [18a29], however, says additionally that one statement is true and the other false. Universals not spoken of universally are exceptional because both contradictories can be true, as Aristotle had previously shown in Chapter 7, [17b29-33].
    • Whitaker takes [18a28] itself to be a statement of RCP, elliptical for “… it is necessary either for the affirmation to be true and the negation false, or for the affirmation to be false and the negation true”. This seems better to explain why Aristotle has “… affirmation or the negation ...”, rather than “ ... and …”, but otherwise explains [18a29-32] less comfortably.
    • However, in the course of the argument, Aristotle rejects the possibilities that both contradictories can be true ([18a38]) and that both can be false ([18b17]), so it doesn’t matter which of the two alternative formulations we choose. Aristotle argues that contradictory pairs of future singulars fail to satisfy either PB (Principle of Bivalence) – the claim that every proposition is either true or false – or RCP – the claim that one is true and the other false.
    • The Chapter concludes with the rejection of RCP:
      • “Clearly, then, it is not necessary that of every affirmation and opposite negation one should be true and the other false.” [19a39-19b2]
    • That Aristotle sees RCP-violation as the problem is evident in:
      • “These and others like them are the absurdities that follow if it is necessary, for every affirmation and negation … that one of the opposites be true and the other false.” [18b26-29]
    • Consequently, we see that part of Aristotle’s solution is the claim that, while for a contradictory pair of singulars about the present or the past, one must be true and the other false, this doesn’t hold for similar statements about the future. With what does Aristotle replace the RCP? For Aristotle, actual things necessarily are. But they are only necessary once (or when) they happen:
      • “… to say that everything that is, is of necessity, when it is, is not the same as saying unconditionally that it is of necessity.” [19a25-26]
    • … and for chance events:
      • “… it is necessary for one or the other of the contradictories to be true or false – not, however, this one or that one, but as chance has it; or for one to be true rather than the other, yet not already true or false.” [19a36-8]
    • Aristotle concludes that contradictory pairs of statements initially lack, but later acquire, truth-values.
  5. Responses to Aristotle
    • Does Aristotle need to conclude this? If we think not, we must either fault the fatalist argument (which Aristotle himself seems to accept, though he rejects its initial premise) or give another response.
    • There is a tempting response to fatalism that is incorrect, but instructive. We can view the situation in possible-worlds terminology, a vocabulary admittedly foreign to Aristotle. Just as in counterfactual situations, we consider possible worlds in which statements about the past that are true in the actual world are false, so we can think of possible worlds in which statements about the future that are true in the actual world are false. From this we can see that a true statement about the future is not necessarily true – there are possible worlds in which it is false; just as there are possible worlds in which true statements about the past are false. There is symmetry between past and future, but this doesn’t imply fatalism.
    • However, this response is mistaken. The fatalist’s claim is that now the past is unalterable and he has an argument that if this is so, then the future must be unalterable in just the same way: the future is necessary in the same way as the past. This is compatible with there being other possible worlds in which different things happen in the past, just as there are those in which different things happen in the future. Facts about the past are not logically necessary.
    • Aristotle himself recognises this. He mentions necessity 31 times in this Chapter, without being careful to distinguish its various forms. His basic understanding of necessity is given in [18b13-14]. Something is necessary if it is impossible for it not to occur.
    • Ackrill [1963] distinguishes three forms:
      1. Logical necessity. A proposition may be analytic or the conclusion of a valid argument, cases that are themselves important to distinguish.
      2. Causal necessity. The necessity resulting from the operation of the laws of nature. This form of necessity is not explicitly mentioned in this Chapter.
      3. Temporal necessity. The unalterability of the past.
    • Aristotle distinguishes “unconditionally necessity4” – probably causal – from temporal necessity:
      • “What is, necessarily is, when it is; and what is not, necessarily is not, when it is not. But not everything that is, necessarily is; and not everything that is not, necessarily is not. For to say that everything that is, is of necessity, when it is, is not the same as saying unconditionally that it is of necessity.” [19a23-5]
    • Ayer and Lewis flatly reject Aristotle’s solution of propositions acquiring truth-values. Both accept the timelessness of truth:
      • “…if something is so, it is so independently of the date at which it occurs. This is an application of the logical truism that if p, then p, no matter what proposition p may be5.”
    • Sorabji [1975] raises issues with this response, and suggests another possibility, which Ayer and Lewis also support. He argues that I can affect the past in cases such as that whereby I can make my previous birthday my last by committing suicide. I make the past statement “this is my last birthday” true by making the facts correspond to it. Truth, like “last”, is a relational term. We can make things – past statements – have been true. Sorabji thinks this, rather than showing the absence of power to do other than the past statement prophesies, merely shows the absence of its exercise. So, of a past true statement about the now future, we have the power both to make it have been true, but also the unexercised power to make it have been false.
    • We can, in certain circumstances, have backward causation. Present actions cannot cause past events, but present actions can make past statements true. My present action makes its past prediction true, rather than the truth of the past prediction necessitating my present action. If we accept the timelessness of truth, then this prediction was always true, so in what sense am I free not to perform the act? The answer is that I’m free in every way that we normally think of as freedom. I have the wherewithal to do it and am uncoerced. I just act; and it’s this that makes the past statement true.
    • Both Ayer and Lewis accept the symmetry between the past and the future, but deny the adverse consequences that Aristotle sees. Lewis argues that neither the past nor the future can be “changed”:
      • “You cannot change a present or future event from what it was originally to what it is after you change it. What you can do is change the present or the future from the unactualised way they would have been without some action of yours to the way they actually are6”.
    • According to Lewis, if you do think of unalterability as a kind of necessity, you mustn’t think that this conflicts with freedom or contingency. In one sense, the future is unalterable, and so necessary, as is the past, but that doesn’t mean that what we do now makes no difference to the future, or the past. We can causally affect both the future and the past, but we can’t affect it if this would make it contrary to what it is.
    • Of course, if causal determinism is true, there is only one physically realisable world, given its initial conditions. In that case, the future would be physically closed, even though logically open. However, any discussion of causation is completely absent from Aristotle’s fatalist argument. He is thinking only of logical and temporal, not causal necessity.
  6. Conclusion
    • Aristotle escapes the conclusion that the truth of the statement that there will be a sea-battle tomorrow necessitates there being a sea-battle tomorrow by denying that it makes sense to claim either that there will be or will not be a sea-battle tomorrow. As yet, neither of these statements is true or false. However, Aristotle need not have made this concession, but could have argued that true predictions are made true by the contingent future events they predict.
  7. Bibliography





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: [18b26-19a6] and [19a7-22].

Footnote 2: Assertions (or denials) about a particular future event, such as the sea-battle in our question.

Footnote 3: And [18a35], [18b3] & [18b22].

Footnote 4: 2016: presumably this ought to read “unconditional necessity”.

Footnote 5: Ayer [1973, p.238].

Footnote 6: [1976, p.150].

Note last updated: 26/02/2004 20:55:41


Footnote 3.6 Repeated. See Footnote 31: (Thought Experiments)


Footnote 3.7: (Modality)

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 8:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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: 20/08/2018 10:13:26


Footnote 3.8 Repeated. See Footnote 26: (Natural Kinds)


Footnote 3.9 Repeated. See Footnote 15.22: (Psychopathology)


Footnote 3.10 Repeated. See Footnote 24.9: (Substance)


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:
  • 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.
Footnote 13: Footnote 14: Footnote 15: Footnote 16: Footnote 17:

Note last updated: 28/07/2018 13:35:02


Footnote 3.11.8: (Time Travel)

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:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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.
Footnote 8: A useful course.

Footnote 9:
  • Monist, July 2005, Vol. 88 Issue 3.
  • Items already read are not in this list, but appear above.

Note last updated: 17/08/2018 17:35:31


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.
  • Locke4’s thoughts on personal identity were initially motivated by worries about the metaphysics of Resurrection5, theodicy and other forensic6 concerns.
  • I’ve noted elsewhere contemporary Christian Materialist7 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 Buddhist9 thought on the topic of Reincarnation10 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-holder13. 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 experiments1 and so much clinical2 data3. 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 5.1 Repeated. See Footnote 31: (Thought Experiments)


Footnote 5.3 Repeated. See Footnote 30: (Clinical Observations)


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 011: Introduction
  2. Chapter 022: What are We3?
  3. Chapter 034: What is a Person?
  4. Chapter 045: Basic Metaphysical Issues
  5. Chapter 056: Persistence and Time
  6. Chapter 067: Animalism and Arguments for It
  7. Chapter 078: The Constitution View and Arguments for It
  8. Chapter 089: Arguments against Animalism
  9. Chapter 0910: Arguments against the Constitution View
  10. Chapter 1011: Thought Experiments
  11. Chapter 1112: Resurrection
  12. Chapter 1213: Conclusion
I’ve started a Note14 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 We15? : 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” argument16 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:
    • Fission17, fusion18 and replication19 in general
    • Commissurotomy20
    • Multiple Personality Disorder21
    • Brain-state Transfer22
    • Brain Transplants23
    • Teletransportation24
    • Siliconisation25
    • 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 5.5.1: (Thesis - Chapter 01 (Introduction))

Abstract

  • The Thesis seems to fall naturally into three sections (other than this Introduction and the Conclusion); namely,
    1. Setting up the problem (Chapters 2-5),
    2. Olson and Baker’s views contrasted (Chapters 6-9); and
    3. Testing the preferred solution (Chapters 10-11).
  • Consequently, I intend my Thesis to have 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



Research Methodology
  • Follow this Link for a generic statement of how I intend to pursue each Chapter.
  • The method is broken down into 12, possibly iterative, stages.
  • Follow this Link for my progress dashboard on these tasks.
  • The methodology for this Chapter differs somewhat from most other Chapters in that there is little real work, other than background reading and checking that the Thesis as a whole hangs together.
  • However, I do need to record while reading the general surveys anything that needs to go into the Historical Survey or Motivating Statement.
  • Another couple of “clearing up” tasks14 specific to this Chapter are:-
    1. To ensure that all the Papers on Identity that I have actually read are referenced somewhere15 in this Thesis.
    2. To ensure that all the Notes on Identity that I have actually produced are referenced somewhere16 in this Thesis.



Motivating Statement17
  1. Why should we care about the topic of personal identity and the possibility of life after death? Put this way, the question hardly needs answering, as it’s just about the most important question to be posed by a reflective (if selfish) person. Yet, the question is difficult, and has had many attempted solutions offered – and while some philosophers think there is no problem left to solve, there is no consensus as to the answer.
  2. My favourite solution – in the sense of the one I think most likely to be correct, rather than necessary the one I’d like to be correct – namely Animalism – that we are human animals and that consequently death is the end of us – is only supported by around 17% of philosophers, according to a recent poll18 with about twice as many supporting some form of psychological view.
  3. In one sense it is just obvious that we are – in some sense of that weasel word – human animals. But then the problem cases kick in – whether real-life or thought experiments that may never be real-life possibilities.
  4. About 36% of the respondents in the aforementioned survey though we could survive teletransportation – though 31% thought that the result would be death.
  5. Transhumanists think we can be uploaded to computers.
  6. Further detail to be supplied.



Main Text
  • For convenience, brief abstracts (as currently intended) of the above chapters are given below. I have included on-going hyperlinks from the above links to my initial thoughts on these topics (and to reading lists and plans for further research) by way of further clarification. 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: See above for a motivating statement and below for a brief historical general survey of the topic 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 Chapter 10 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, including the following:-
      • Fission
      • Fusion
      • Replication
      • Commissurotomy
      • Multiple Personality Disorder
      • Brain-state Transfer
      • Brain Transplants
      • Teletransportation
      • Siliconisation
      • Transhumanism
    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-aware Christians and Muslims (unlike what seems to be the case with most swipes against religion). Maybe I should also cover reincarnation.
    12. Conclusion:
      • 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.



Brief historical general survey of the topic of Personal Identity
  1. To be supplied.



Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed33
  1. In this Chapter I will consider the following papers or book chapters (together with some others referenced by these). There are doubtless many more that are relevant and which will be addressed in the course of the thesis, but these are probably sufficient to get us going.
  2. The purpose of this Chapter is to introduce and motivate the Thesis. As such, I need to situate it in the history of the topic. This is done in a number of introductory books, General Surveys, or collections of Papers that are standard fodder in courses on Personal Identity.
  3. Consequently, I will review the various Surveys of Personal Identity that feature in the standard reading lists, both to demonstrate that I’ve read them, and to ensure I’ve missed nothing major.
  4. If a Paper in a Collection or Chapter in an Introduction is specific to a later Chapter in this Thesis, its consideration may be reserved until a later Chapter, even if the Book itself is not. These will be noted in due course.
  5. As the topic of Personal Identity stems primarily from Locke’s account, I need a brief statement of what this is. Most of the relevant material will appear in due course in the anthologies, but I few items not anthologised are listed below.
  6. Other works were considered and either cut or reserved for later, as indicated below. The easiest way to see all the works considered is via the reading list at the end of this Note.
  7. Introductory or General Books
  8. Standard Collections
  9. Locke



The Cut
  1. Various works were considered for this Chapter, but were either reserved for consideration in other Chapters, or were rejected, at least for the time being.
  2. Priority Works to be read later for other Chapters:-
  3. Secondary Works to be “parked” for the time being:



Links to Notes
  1. General Surveys,
  2. Locke,
  3. Maybe others (to be supplied).





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 14: These will be left until all Chapters have completed Task 7.

Footnote 15:
  • This may either be “as utilised” or “as ignored”.
  • Follow this link.
  • As of mid-Oct 2014, this task is now complete!
Footnote 16:
  • This may either be “as utilised” or “as ignored”.
  • Follow this link.
Footnote 17: This will explain why I’ve undertaken this research, and encourage the reader to continue.

Footnote 18: Footnote 33:
  • See the section on Research Methodology for what is to be done with these.
  • The author’s surname is repeated in the text to make it easier for me to see what’s going on in the encoded text I work on.
Footnote 34: As this is a PhD Thesis in my general subject-area, I ought at least to have read it!

Footnote 35: Somewhat elementary, but worth (re-)reading quickly

Footnote 36:
  • This is a course of lectures on Metaphysics, at the advanced undergraduate / beginning graduate level.
  • All the issues raised – in the discussion of standard papers – many of them covered elsewhere in my Thesis – are useful background.
Footnote 37: This is a set of papers for discussion in a research seminar. Most are probably covered elsewhere, but in case not …

Footnote 38: For a review, see "Lerner (Berel Dov) - Review of 'Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction' by David Shoemaker".

Footnote 39: Decide where to park the various Chapters of this book after reading the précis.

Footnote 40: Harris is an interesting case, in that it includes three important papers and three that are off-topic, but important in illustrating the divergent usages of the term “identity”.

Footnote 41: This is more recent than the others.

Footnote 46: But note that Baker’s account of constitution differs from the mereological account assumed in Rea’s anthology.

Footnote 47: The works by Reuscher and Trupp are too eccentric to be given any priority.

Footnote 48: The works by Slors may be worth reading as a fairly contemporary defence of the psychological view; just not yet.

Footnote 49: The work by Vesey is too out of date for a priority item.

Note last updated: 03/11/2018 18:01:26


Footnote 5.5.4: (Thesis - Chapter 03 (What is a Person?))

Abstract

    This chapter will canvass the various views of what Persons are and consider how important issues in this area are to my main concern of our identity.



Research Methodology
  • Follow this Link for a generic statement of how I intend to pursue each Chapter.
  • The method is broken down into 12, possibly iterative, stages.
  • Follow this Link for my progress dashboard on these tasks.



Chapter Introduction
  1. The main philosophical argument about Persons is whether PERSON is a substance-concept in its own right, or whether it is parasitic on other substance-concept(s).
  2. My own view is that Human Persons are phase sortals of human animals, but other philosophers have more robust views of persons and think of them as substances in their own right.
  3. Famously, Locke held this view, and Lynne Rudder Baker is a contemporary exponent – her view being that human persons are constituted by, but not identical to, human animals.
  4. In this thesis, I’m only concerned with human persons, and – like most philosophers – allow that there can be non-human persons (God, gods, angels, aliens, robots, etc.)
  5. All this is predicated on deciding just what PERSONS are, which in turn depends somewhat on whether we take PERSON to be a natural kind concept, or something that is socially constructed and so not something the correct definition of we can discover.
  6. Further text to be supplied.



Main Text
  1. To be supplied.



Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed7
  1. In this Chapter I will consider the following papers or book chapters (together with some others referenced by these). There are doubtless many more that are relevant and which will be addressed in the course of the thesis, but these are probably sufficient to get us going.
  2. Reductionism
  3. Many aspects of these papers will need to be either ignored or reserved for other chapters.
  4. The motivation for these works is as follows:-
    • To be supplied.



The Cut
  1. There had already been a lot of cutting in the various selections of the original reading list – the reading lists attached to the Notes run on and on – and these items just represent the works in my possession (though I have sought out all that I’ve heard of that look relevant).
  2. However, the items in the lists following were given some attention, and have been culled – at least temporarily – from the lists above, where they originally appeared. I’ve not always given a reason as I’ve not studied them sufficiently closely. But, you have to draw a line somewhere.
  3. I’m well aware that the cut has not been sufficiently rigorous. Further items beyond the items below are likely to be culled when I come to process them.



Links to Notes
  1. The primary Notes are:-
    • Person,
    • Human Persons,
    • Non-Human Persons,
    • Reductionism,
    • Simple View
    • Taking Persons Seriously,
    • First-Person Perspective.
  2. No doubt there are others:-
    • To be supplied.



Final Remarks
  1. This is work in progress.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 7:
  • See the section on Research Methodology for what is to be done with these.
  • The author’s surname is repeated in the text to make it easier for me to see what’s going on in the encoded text I work on.
Footnote 8: This is very elementary, but short and maybe entertaining.

Footnote 9: Read this as an example from the Animal Liberation movement.

Footnote 10: This is rather introductory to Parfit’s ideas, so read it quickly for that purpose.

Footnote 11: Restrict a close reading to Part 3 (Personal Identity).

Footnote 12: May be useful both as a take on Strawson, and for Plantinga’s own views.

Footnote 13: Stanley got into a debate with Jen Hornsby, though not on this topic, so it’ll be interesting to see how he argues.

Footnote 14: This is a difficult book with which I expect to have little sympathy, but one that has to be read.

Footnote 15: This is rather elementary, and ought to have been reviewed in Chapter 1.

Footnote 16: This paper may be important, but is too long (and difficult) for a first pass through the literature

Footnote 17: Too similar to "Lowe (E.J.) - Substance and Selfhood", which was read for Chapter 2.

Note last updated: 02/11/2018 10:45:07


Footnote 5.5.6: (Thesis - Chapter 05 (Persistence and Time))

Abstract

    A number of thought experiments that feature in Chapter 10 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.



Research Methodology
  • Follow this Link for a generic statement of how I intend to pursue each Chapter.
  • The method is broken down into 12, possibly iterative, stages.
  • Follow this Link for my progress dashboard on these tasks.



Chapter Introduction
  1. Any discussion of identity over time – of anything – needs to have some discussion of just what it is for something to persist, and what we take time to be.
  2. Additionally, as noted in the abstract, depending on our approach to time and persistence, some of the troubling thought experiments that worry us about the persistence of human persons are resolved, though we get nothing for nothing. As is usual in philosophy, a gain here is compensated for by a loss somewhere else. We need to determine these losses, and agree that they are “worth it”.
  3. Further text to be supplied.



Main Text
  1. To be supplied.



Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed4
  1. In this Chapter I will consider the following papers or book chapters (together with some others referenced by these). There are doubtless many more that are relevant and which will be addressed in the course of the thesis, but these are probably sufficient to get us going.
  2. The references are segregated by sub-topic, as below, but there is much overlap.
  3. Time:
  4. Time Travel5:
  5. Modality / Possible Worlds7:
  6. Persistence:
  7. Survival9:
  8. Endurantism:
  9. Perdurantism:
  10. Exdurantism:
  11. Many aspects of these papers will need to be either ignored or reserved for other chapters.
  12. The motivation for these works is as follows:-
    • To be supplied.



The Cut
  1. There had already been a lot of cutting in the various selections of the original reading list – the reading lists attached to the Notes run on and on – and these items just represent the works in my possession (though I have sought out all that I’ve heard of that look relevant).
  2. However, the items in the lists following were given some attention, and have been culled – at least temporarily – from the lists above, where they originally appeared. I’ve not always given a reason as I’ve not studied them sufficiently closely. But, you have to draw a line somewhere.
  3. I’m well aware that the cut has not been sufficiently rigorous. Further items beyond the items below are likely to be culled when I come to process them.



Links to Notes
  1. Time,
  2. Time Travel,
  3. Persistence,
  4. Persistence Criteria,
  5. Survival,
  6. Endurantism,
  7. Perdurantism,
  8. Exdurantism.



Final Remarks
  1. This is work in progress.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 4:
  • See the section on Research Methodology for what is to be done with these.
  • The author’s surname is repeated in the text to make it easier for me to see what’s going on in the encoded text I work on.
Footnote 5:
  • I thought I’d written somewhere that this – fun though it might be – is a bridge too far. But it is relevant.
  • I’ll expand the reading list based on the items already listed.
Footnote 6: And the rest of an interesting 2005 edition of The Monist.

Footnote 7:
  • This is parked here until it finds its final resting place.
  • If I do cover possible worlds, I’ll need more material than this.
Footnote 8: This might also be useful for perdurantism, or for the logic of identity.

Footnote 9:
  • There is some overlap – as far as papers reviewed are concerned – between this Section and the “Does Identity Matter” Section in Chapter 4.
  • This Chapter focuses on the meaning of “Survival”, while the previous chapter focuses on its relation to Identity, and the importance of identity for survival.
  • But, I think they should probably be covered in the same place, and probably not here.
Footnote 10: These three papers by Butterfield are very specialised, and this one is very long, and may be left to one side for now.

Footnote 11: This looks like an important paper, which rejects the “proofs” of 4D based on the “coincidence” TEs.

Footnote 12: Another important-looking paper, also against perdurantism, along similar lines to the above.

Footnote 13: Oderberg seems to be arguing that Perdurantism is an unwanted consequence of a common-sense notion of persistence.

Footnote 14: I’m not sure whether this belongs here, but it looks an interesting paper.

Footnote 15: I don’t have the paper!

Footnote 16: This is an ethical rather than metaphysical discussion.

Note last updated: 02/11/2018 10:45:07


Footnote 5.5.11: (Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments))

Abstract

  • 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, including the following:-
    1. Fission
    2. Fusion
    3. Replication
    4. Commissurotomy1
    5. Multiple Personality Disorder2
    6. Brain-state Transfer
    7. Brain Transplants3
    8. Teletransportation
    9. Siliconisation
    10. Transhumanism



Research Methodology
  • Follow this Link for a generic statement of how I intend to pursue each Chapter.
  • The method is broken down into 12, possibly iterative, stages.
  • Follow this Link for my progress dashboard on these tasks.



Chapter Introduction
  1. To be supplied.



Main Text
  1. To be supplied.



Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed6
  1. In this Chapter I will consider the following papers or book chapters (together with some others referenced by these). There are doubtless many more that are relevant and which will be addressed in the course of the thesis, but these are probably sufficient to get us going.
  2. I have segregated the papers by sub-topic, but some would fit into more than one category.
  3. Theory
  4. Brain State Transfers7
  5. Brain Transplants
  6. Commissurotomy
  7. Fission
  8. Fusion
  9. Multiple Personality Disorder
  10. Replication
  11. Siliconisation8
  12. Teletransportation
  13. Transhumanism10
  14. Many aspects of these papers will need to be either ignored or reserved for other chapters.
  15. The motivation for these works is as follows:-
    • To be supplied.



The Cut
  1. There had already been a lot of cutting in the various selections of the original reading list – the reading lists attached to the Notes run on and on – and these items just represent the works in my possession (though I have sought out all that I’ve heard of that look relevant).
  2. However, the items in the lists following were given some attention, and have been culled – at least temporarily – from the lists above, where they originally appeared. I’ve not always given a reason as I’ve not studied them sufficiently closely. But, you have to draw a line somewhere.
  3. I’m well aware that the cut has not been sufficiently rigorous. Further items beyond the items below are likely to be culled when I come to process them.



Links to Notes
  1. Propriety of Thought Experiments
  2. Principal Examples:-
    • Fission
    • Fusion
    • Replication
    • Commissurotomy
    • Multiple Personality Disorder
    • Brain-state Transfers
    • Brain Transplants
    • Teletransportation
    • Siliconisation
    • Transhumanism.



Final Remarks
  1. This is work in progress.





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: This is more an experiment than a thought-experiment, as commissurotomies are actual.

Footnote 2:
  • Again, this is – allegedly – an existent pathology rather than a TE.
  • Moreover, it might be better situated in Chapter 9 (Click here for Note) as a critique of the idea of an individuating FPP.
Footnote 3: We need to distinguish Whole-Brain Transplants (WBTs) from single or double Cerebrum transplants, and these from brain-tissue transplants, which shade off into Brain State Transfers.

Footnote 6:
  • See the section on Research Methodology for what is to be done with these.
  • The author’s surname is repeated in the text to make it easier for me to see what’s going on in the encoded text I work on.
Footnote 7:
  • There must be many more papers than the classic one by Williams (and commentaries thereon) – I just haven’t got them correctly categorised.
  • Under this head should be included references to “Brain Zaps” and the like.
Footnote 8: Footnote 9:
  • Tye seems to be discussing brain-partition, with silicon transceivers. But he uses Unger’s term “zippering”.
  • He is indebted to Arnold Zuboff, who may be worth following up.
Footnote 10: Footnote 11: I’ve read this book, but it’s insufficiently philosophical for its arguments – such as they are – to be worth considering as a priority.

Footnote 12: Cover in the next Chapter.

Note last updated: 03/11/2018 18:01:26


Footnote 5.5.13: (Thesis - Chapter 12 (Conclusion))

This Chapter will summarise the claims and arguments of the Thesis, namely that:-

  • 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.


This is a place-holder.

Note last updated: 02/11/2018 09:41:46


Footnote 5.5.14: (Thesis - Journals)

Introduction1

  1. The reading-list for my Thesis is already too long to manage, and – I have no doubt – new material will always be coming up that I ought to be aware of.
  2. Nevertheless, I ought also to keep up to date with what’s going on in other areas of Analytic Philosophy, not to mention recent work relevant to my thesis.
  3. As a Cambridge Alumnus, I have access to JSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/) and thereby to most of the philosophical journals. The access to the text is not up-to-date, but I ought to inculcate a discipline to:-
    • Check the TOCs of the most recent issues, and mark them for future interrogation, and
    • Check the most recent issues with content, and briefly review what’s there, downloading where it looks useful.
  4. Cambridge has recently opened up Cambridge Core (https://www.cambridge.org/core/) to alumni:-
    • This allows up-to-date access to 17 philosophy journals, including those listed below.
    • There are also a great number of books available for download. I need to avoid distraction, but if there’s a book by CUP I need, and it’s here, then it’s a good place to go! Unfortunately, not all philosophy books published by CUP are available for free.
    • I need to adopt the same discipline as for JSTOR.

Relevant Cambridge Core Journals
  1. Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie)
  2. Episteme (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/episteme)
  3. Journal of the American Philosophical Association (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-the-american-philosophical-association)
  4. Philosophy (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/philosophy)
  5. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements)
  6. Think (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/think)

Relevant JSTOR Journals2
  1. American Philosophical Quarterly (1964-2010)
  2. Analysis (1933-2008; 2009-2013)
  3. Behavior and Philosophy (1990-2010)
  4. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1950-2006; 2007-2013)
  5. Canadian Journal of Philosophy (1971-2008)
  6. Erkenntnis (1975-2010; 2011-2013)
  7. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (1998-2010; 2011-2013)
  8. Human Studies (1978-2010; 2011-2013)
  9. Hypathia (1986-2008; 2009-2012)
  10. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (1970-2010; 2011-2012)
  11. The Journal of Ethics (1997-2010; 2011-2013)
  12. Journal of Philosophical Logic 91972-2010; 2011-2013)
  13. The Journal of Philosophy (1921-2008)
  14. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (1939-2010)
  15. Mind (1876-2006; 2007-2012)
  16. The Monist (1890-2008; 2009-2014)
  17. Noûs (1967-2003; 2004-2012)
  18. Philosophical Issues (1991-1998)
  19. Philosophical Perspectives (1987-1995)
  20. The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-2008; 2009-2012)
  21. The Philosophical Review (1892-2008; 2009-2011)
  22. Philosophical Studies (1950-2010; 2011-2013)
  23. Philosophy (1931-2008; 2009-2012)
  24. Philosophy and Phenomenal Research (1940-2008; 2009-2013)
  25. Philosophy & Public Affairs (1971-2008; 2009-2013)
  26. Phronesis (1955-2008; 2009-2013)
  27. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association (1927-2010)
  28. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1887-2008; 2009-2013)
  29. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society: Supplementary Volumes (1918-2008; 2009-2013)
  30. Religious Studies (1965-2008; 2009-2013)
  31. The Review of Metaphysics (1947-2010)
  32. Synthese (1936-2010; 2011-2013)





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1:
  • This Note used to include a (rather short) list of “interesting” papers that I’d discovered from the journals below, but missed the cut as far as reading was concerned.
  • I’ve abandoned this idea as it’s too much work for little benefit.
Footnote 2:
  • The dates for which I have access to free Text appear in brackets, with a second date-range where appropriate, for papers that can be purchased (or borrowed in hard-copy).
  • This list hasn’t been updated since January 2015, so there may be new journals of interest, and the dates will have moved on by 3 years.

Note last updated: 05/04/2018 10:48:00


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 we1? 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 individual2, but when we ask what kind3 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 beings4 – specifically human animals, members of the species homo sapiens5. That is the answer posited by the Animalists6, amongst whose number – broadly speaking – I place myself, who accept the biological view7 of personal identity.
  3. If this is true, then our persistence conditions8 – the necessary and sufficient conditions for us to continue in existence – are the same as those of other animals9 – 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 persons10, and have a “first person perspective11” (FPP) on the world – something most philosophers deny to other animals – and care about our futures12 and – wantons13 apart – agonise over our past mistakes. Lynne Rudder Baker claims this perspective makes an ontological14 difference, rather than being – as I think – a special property of human beings that may or may not be had in particular cases. Baker15 accuses the animalists of not taking persons seriously16. I might just note that there’s a facile and confusing answer to what we are17, 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 persons18
  4. Since at least John Locke, this fact of our mental exceptionalism has tempted philosophers to say that it’s our psychological continuity19 that is more important for our identity-preservation than our physical continuity20. This view still has its supporters – not only for those such as Dean Zimmerman and Richard Swinburne who believe in immaterial souls21 – but for the many who think that psychological continuity and connectedness22 is constitutive of the identity of persons. It is also implicit in the ideas of the Transhumanists23 who think that – come the Singularity24 – we might be capable of being uploaded25 to computers26 and thereby live almost forever27.
  5. Before proceeding further we have to say something brief and sketchy about identity and persistence28. “Identity” – in the sense of “numerical identity29” – 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 personality30 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 similarity32”: 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 convention33: 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 view34 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 properties35, 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 – nihilists38 – 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 exdurantists40 – 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 Parfit41 – have said that even if there is identity across time, it’s not what matters42.
    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 identity43 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 identity44 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 physicalists45 (though maybe most non-philosophers are unreflective dualists46). This gives physicalist philosophers a problem if they have hopes of post-mortem47 survival48. 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 Materialists50 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 causation51 (by some unknown natural or supernatural process) between the dying body and the resurrection52 one so that the dying individual escapes in the nick of time to the next world without loss of numerical identity53. 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 possibility54, 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 View55. On this thesis, the person is distinct from the human animal – “just as” the statue56 is distinct from its constituting57 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 Animal58” 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 Theon59, Tib and Tibbles60, 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-dimensionalism62 (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 fission63 – 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 animalism64 when linked to various thought experiments65 (TEs) that we’ll come on to presently. However, I still don’t like the Constitution View66. 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 selves67 expiring with their bodies68. 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 reduplication69, 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 way71 of saying which. The same objection prevents Star Trek-like teletransportation72 – were it possible – being identity-preserving. I might also add that no “program” is – in itself – conscious73, 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 substance74 term, but an honorific that refers to some substance during some periods of its existence when it has the requisite mental and moral properties75 to qualify. “Person” is a Phase Sortal76 (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-persons77 – 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 animalists78? There are several. Some – like the so-called “corpse problem79” (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 problem80”. 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 part81 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 transplant82 intuition”. An animalist seems forced to say that I would not “go with my brain” in the circumstance where my brain is transplanted83 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 Olson85 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 vat86” – 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 fusion87 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 deciding88 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 continuity92, 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 brain93 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 concepts94.
  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: 06/07/2018 18:56:10


Footnote 6.1 Repeated. See Footnote 15.6: (What are We?)


Footnote 6.2 Repeated. See Footnote 32.12: (Individual)


Footnote 6.3 Repeated. See Footnote 24.6: (Kinds)


Footnote 6.4 Repeated. See Footnote 12.8: (Human Beings)


Footnote 6.5 Repeated. See Footnote 10: (Homo Sapiens)


Footnote 6.6 Repeated. See Footnote 15.4: (Animalists)


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.
Footnote 8:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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.
Footnote 11:
  • Olson is one of the primary exponents of the Biological View, so almost anything by him might be cited.
  • I’ve restricted the list to those items that – in the text or comments I’ve incorporated on-line – explicitly use the term.
Footnote 14:
  • Very tangentially relevant, but Uploading and the BV are antithetical theories of PID.

Note last updated: 17/08/2018 17:35:31


Footnote 6.8 Repeated. See Footnote 12.5: (Persistence Criteria)


Footnote 6.9 Repeated. See Footnote 29: (Animals)


Footnote 6.10 Repeated. See Footnote 8: (Person)


Footnote 6.11 Repeated. See Footnote 21: (First-Person Perspective)


Footnote 6.12 Repeated. See Footnote 17.11: (Future Great Pain Test)


Footnote 6.13 Repeated. See Footnote 18.3: (Wantons)


Footnote 6.14 Repeated. See Footnote 7: (Ontology)


Footnote 6.15 Repeated. See Footnote 23.16: (Baker)


Footnote 6.16 Repeated. See Footnote 27: (Taking Persons Seriously)


Footnote 6.17 Repeated. See Footnote 15.6: (What are We?)


Footnote 6.18 Repeated. See Footnote 10.5: (Human Persons)


Footnote 6.19 Repeated. See Footnote 15: (Psychological Continuity)


Footnote 6.20 Repeated. See Footnote 14: (Physical Continuity)


Footnote 6.21 Repeated. See Footnote 10.11: (Souls)


Footnote 6.22 Repeated. See Footnote 15.2: (Connectedness vs Continuity)


Footnote 6.23 Repeated. See Footnote 47.11: (Transhumanism)


Footnote 6.24: (The Singularity)

This Note discusses in detail – or begins to discuss in detail – the somewhat extravagant thoughts in "Grossman (Lev), Kurzweil (Ray) - 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal". It ought to range more widely across the Transhumanist literature. The footnotes in the Write-up for the paper link to the sections in this Note3. It is currently very much work in progress.

  1. Kurzweil:
  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 Time: Can Machines Think? (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 (Wikipedia: Fusion Power (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 Wikipedia: Nanotechnology (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 (Drexler: Engines of Creation - Defunct) 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:
  21. Moore's Law:
    • See Wikipedia: Moore's Law (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 3:
  • Currently the links are one-way.
Footnote 4:
  • Or, “seemed”!
Footnote 5:
  • Some of these links now fail, as indicated.
  • Some other links work, but don’t have the same text.
  • I’ve not had time to chase them up and make repairs, if possible.

Note last updated: 07/08/2018 21:18:43


Footnote 6.25 Repeated. See Footnote 21.13: (Uploading)


Footnote 6.26: (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:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
Footnote 16:
  • 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 17:
  • 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 18: Footnote 19:
  • The list is rather long, and will need pruning when I get down to this topic.
Footnote 20: Footnote 21:
  • This paper no doubt considers the use of computers for simulating situations other than minds, so might not be directly relevant.
Footnote 22: Footnote 23:
  • This seems somewhat tangential, as it’s not focused on simulating persons, but it might be useful background.
Footnote 24:
  • 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 25: See also "Searle (John) - Is the Brain's Mind a Computer Program? MIT Comments".

Note last updated: 17/08/2018 17:35:31


Footnote 6.27: (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 Woody Allen: Immortality (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 6.27.14: (Makropulos Case)

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.
Footnote 8:
  • The discussion of Pascal’s Wager is a tangent on a tangent, but an interesting one nonetheless.

Note last updated: 01/03/2018 18:53:17


Footnote 6.28 Repeated. See Footnote 13.3: (Persistence)


Footnote 6.29 Repeated. See Footnote 41.12: (Numerical Identity)


Footnote 6.30 Repeated. See Footnote 44.14: (Personality)


Footnote 6.31: (Narrative 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:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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:

Note last updated: 03/09/2018 19:49:26


Footnote 6.32 Repeated. See Footnote 45.4: (Similarity)


Footnote 6.33 Repeated. See Footnote 40.5: (Convention)


Footnote 6.34 Repeated. See Footnote 15.25: (Psychological View)


Footnote 6.35 Repeated. See Footnote 16.5: (Properties)


Footnote 6.36: (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, death2 – 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 intermit3? 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 organism4 with the life of a human person5?
    • 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 Note6.
  • 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-holder9. 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 6.37: (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.
Footnote 4:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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.

Note last updated: 10/10/2018 16:43:41


Footnote 6.38 Repeated. See Footnote 41.11: (Nihilism)


Footnote 6.39: (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.
Footnote 7:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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: 03/11/2018 18:01:26


Footnote 6.40 Repeated. See Footnote 41.3: (Exdurantism)


Footnote 6.41 Repeated. See Footnote 13.2: (Parfit)


Footnote 6.42 Repeated. See Footnote 13.4: (What Matters)


Footnote 6.43 Repeated. See Footnote 11: (Logic of Identity)


Footnote 6.44 Repeated. See Footnote 11.7: (Occasional Identity)


Footnote 6.45 Repeated. See Footnote 12: (Physicalism)


Footnote 6.46 Repeated. See Footnote 12.2: (Dualism)


Footnote 6.47 Repeated. See Footnote 20.8: (Death)


Footnote 6.48 Repeated. See Footnote 13: (Survival)


Footnote 6.49: (Life After Death)

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 8: Footnote 15:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
Footnote 16:
  • 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 17:
  • 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 18:
  • The categorised reading list includes a lot of material of purely religious interest, the vast bulk of which I’ve ignored
  • Even so, the reading list is too long.
Footnote 19:
  • I’ve not noted individual papers from this volume, except where I’ve read them.

Note last updated: 17/08/2018 17:35:31


Footnote 6.49.10: (Status: Philosophy of Religion (2018 - September))

Rationale for this Project

  • See my Christian page and onward links from there for an explanation of how I got in to and out of evangelical Christianity. This is still a live issue for me, and the reason I originally undertook formal philosophical training.
  • The connection to my current philosophical researches arises from the standard religious hope that resurrection – or some other form of post-mortem survival – is possible. This is a cornerstone of religious claims and expectations, at least in the Abrahamic religions, from those of suicide bombers to those of more pacific persons. I wish to go back to the considerations that originally motivated Locke and research the metaphysical possibility of resurrection for beings such as us. My current opinion is that resurrection for human beings is metaphysically impossible2, given that substance dualism is false.
  • In late September 2010 I took the Philosophy of Religion Module of a 2-year part time MA in Philosophy and Religion at Heythrop College (http://www.heythrop.ac.uk/), University of London. Follow the links for my Personal Statement, Interview Write-up, and Course Outline. I decided not to proceed with the MA but do intend to follow up on7 the many issues raised.
  • During 2016 I assisted with the Appendices of my friend’s PhD Thesis on the Narrative Structure of the Acts of the Apostles, building a website. See "Mansell (Peter) - Bottom Up Reading of Acts".
  • In August 2017 I was asked by Michael J. Alter to review pre-publication his book on the theology of the Resurrection. Unfortunately it turned out to be too much work, and I only commented on the first section.

Summary of Progress during July - September 2018
  1. I spent 40 hours in 3Q18 on this Project, or related work (148 hours YTD, where for "YTD" - Year to Date - I mean the (academic) year that commenced in October 2017). That's 307% of the planned effort (87% YTD). Overall, 7% of my Project effort in the Quarter was directed towards this project (making 6% YTD) - as against 3% planned (7% YTD).
  2. The only highlight of the quarter was that Pete asked me to proof-read his book ("Mansell (Peter) - The Tragedy of the Twelve: The Rise and Fall of the ‘Mega-Apostles’ in Luke-Acts"), based on his PhD, which has now been granted. I had to do this against a tight deadline, which meant that I spent much more time than planned on this project.
  3. Further details of activity in the last quarter are given below:-
Religion (Total Hours = 33.5)
Religion Background (Total Hours = 6)
  1. Religion Background - Admin
  2. Religion Background - Discussions (Total Hours = 5)
    • Interaction - Discussions at King's (1 hour)
    • Interaction - Discussions with Mike & Sylvia (1 hour)
    • "Interaction - Discussions with Pete" (0.75 hours)
    • Interaction - Discussions with Pete & Caro (2.25 hours)


Plans for the Near Future
Summary of Progress to Date

I’ve hived off the history to a separate document, which still requires a major update.




In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 2:
  • Or if not strictly impossible – rather unlikely, as the candidates for enabling some sort of physical continuity – from luz bones to “corpse swapping” – have multiple problems.
  • However, there are some interesting ideas by Dean Zimmerman, most recently in "Zimmerman (Dean) - Bodily Resurrection: The Falling Elevator Model Revisited", that argue the contrary.
  • Also, transhumanists – who are almost following a religion – are often hopeful of post-mortem survival. I have no metaphysical worries about “cryonic suspension”, and subsequent resuscitation, but think that uploading is incoherent.
Footnote 7:
  • This pious hope has been sitting unactioned for nearly 8 years now!
  • The proximate cause of my failure was missing a deadline for my essay on the Ontological Argument, but a more serious reason was that it was all a waste of time (for me, given my research interests). Peter Vardy had warned me about anno domini, with the claim that original work after the age of 65 is unlikely. I hope this is false, as I’ve ignored the warning, and am about to reach that milestone.
Footnote 8:
  • While I couldn't submit to Michael Alter's deadlines and the amount of work required, I ought to at least read these books.
Footnote 10:
  • Julie and I attended the first part of this conference in April, in Reading, but we had to escape early as the lock on our back door in Billericay had broken and Nat couldn’t get in.

Note last updated: 10/10/2018 16:43:41


Footnote 6.50 Repeated. See Footnote 14.8: (Christian Materialism)


Footnote 6.51 Repeated. See Footnote 38: (Causality)


Footnote 6.52 Repeated. See Footnote 10.9: (Resurrection)


Footnote 6.53 Repeated. See Footnote 11: (Logic of Identity)


Footnote 6.54 Repeated. See Footnote 3.7: (Modality)


Footnote 6.55 Repeated. See Footnote 24: (Constitution View)


Footnote 6.56: (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.
Footnote 5:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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: 02/11/2018 11:00:58


Footnote 6.57 Repeated. See Footnote 24.3: (Constitution)


Footnote 6.58 Repeated. See Footnote 25.2: (Thinking Animal Argument)


Footnote 6.59 Repeated. See Footnote 25.11: (Dion and Theon)


Footnote 6.60 Repeated. See Footnote 25.10: (Tibbles the Cat)


Footnote 6.61: (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.
Footnote 2:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
Footnote 3:
  • 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 4:
  • 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: 10/10/2018 16:43:41


Footnote 6.62 Repeated. See Footnote 41: (Perdurantism)


Footnote 6.63 Repeated. See Footnote 32: (Fission)


Footnote 6.64 Repeated. See Footnote 23: (Animalism)


Footnote 6.65 Repeated. See Footnote 31: (Thought Experiments)


Footnote 6.66 Repeated. See Footnote 25: (Constitution View - Objections)


Footnote 6.67 Repeated. See Footnote 13.6: (Self)


Footnote 6.68 Repeated. See Footnote 17: (Body)


Footnote 6.69 Repeated. See Footnote 15.26: (Reduplication Objections)


Footnote 6.70: (Universals)

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:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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.
Footnote 17: See also "Fine (Gail) - On Ideas - Introduction".

Footnote 18:
  • The Categorised readig-list is far too bloated for my interests.
  • So I’ve included most of what I’ve actually read, but have been much more restrictive on unread items
Footnote 19: Look into the other papers by Sider in the categorised list if time.

Note last updated: 17/08/2018 21:59:02


Footnote 6.70.7: (Baker - The Human Animal: Response to Olson)

  • This paper is a review of "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Response to Eric Olson", which is itself a response to "Olson (Eric) - Replies to Baker, Markosian & Zimmerman".
  • Baker has two objections to Olson’s reply to her objections to Animalism:
    1. That Olson accused her of mis-describing her own view, and
    2. That Olson accused her of making a simple logical error.
  • She raises two technical points, both related to her Constitution View (CV) that she had not had time to elaborate on during her initial response to Olson:-
    1. The “Key Distinction”: between having properties derivatively and non-derivatively.
    2. Not all properties can be had derivatively.
  • According to Baker, properties are had derivatively if they are had in virtue of the individual being constituted by something else that has them non-derivatively. The derivative and non-derivative having of properties is exhaustive. This is the Key Distinction (KD).
  • She says that the KD shows that some Fs have their persistence conditions (PCs) in virtue of being Fs while others do not. She notes that persistence conditions only apply to primary-kind properties (introduced without definition). If F is a primary-kind property, then all and only non-derivative F’s have their PCs in virtue of being Fs.
    • PCs are sortal-related, and “what it is to be an F is what it is to (continue to) be”. If F is the property that defines the Sort, you can’t have an F that doesn’t have PCs in virtue of being an F. I presume that SORT and PRIMARY KIND are synonyms. However, TEACHER is not a Sort (or Primary Kind), so no teacher has her PCs in virtue of being a teacher, but in virtue of being a human being (pace Baker). Teachers as such don’t have PCs. The big issue here is whether PERSON is like TEACHER, in not being a Sort. It’s not clear that we need the concept of constitution or the KD to explain these differences in PCs. What is Baker’s view of teachers – are they constituted by human animals too – or just properties of human animals (or maybe persons)?
    • Baker doesn’t mention substances - but are they pre-supposed by talk of Kinds, or are these orthogonal concepts? Are the major accounts of persistence (endurantism, perdurantism, exdurantism) orthogonal to ideas about substances – ie. does endurantism presuppose substances, and perdurantism deny them?
    • If substances are the key to this debate, is it the case that PERSON is not a substance-term, but only a property of a substance? In that case, it is the human animal that has the FPP, and it is this that qualifies it to be a person. So, the person’s PCs are the PCs of an appropriate animal (one capable at some time of having a FPP).
    • We might ask about the persistence of a personality, but it’s not clear what a personality is. Personalities seem to be able to develop, but they seem rather abstract. Are they collections of properties? They can’t really be universals, as universals are timeless and changeless.
  • As an example – and application – Baker says that her body is an animal non-derivatively, and has its PCs in virtue of being an animal. There’s lots to say here:-
    1. Olson (and I) would disagree bodies are animals in any sense. Olson probably denies that (living) bodies exist, though he probably agrees that corpses exist, and organisms certainly exist. I’m not impressed by co-location arguments, though I’m not quite sure what the relation of an animal to its body is – presumably some form of constitution.
    2. My difference with Baker is not with constitution per se, but with ontological priorities. Baker has it that there are two substances involved (the person and the animal, or the statue and the clay) and that one is temporarily constituted by the other. But in my view one is not a substance – the statue cannot exist apart from the clay, and the person cannot exist apart from the animal. The ontological priority is that x constitutes y, for periods of x’s existence, but for the whole of y’s existence.
    3. The PCs of a body differ from those of an animal – at least if the body is taken to persist as a corpse, as is often said.
  • As a second example, Baker says that she is an animal derivatively, and does not have her PCs in virtue of being an animal. This is just Baker’s main thesis, and doesn’t require any further comment here.
  • As for Baker’s second technical point, she gives three examples of properties that cannot be had derivatively:-
    1. Those expressed by “constitutes”.
    2. Those expressed by “is identical with”.
    3. Those rooted outside the time that they are had – such as “started out as an embryo”.
  • I couldn’t see any explicit reference to this point in the subsequent discussion. However, they do have applications to the case in hand. If the second example were allowed, then Baker might be identical to a human animal derivatively, and consequently have the PCs of a human animal, which she denies. And if the third were allowed, then only being an animal derivatively would not protect her from having been a fetus, or about to be in a PVS. I couldn’t quite get my head around the first example. If it were allowed, then Baker might be self-constituting. I need to follow-up on this.
  • She then applies (the first of) these distinctions to Olson’s response. She looks at what is wrong with the apparently valid:-
    1. I am an animal
    2. Every animal started out as an embryo
      Therefore,
    3. I started out as an embryo
  • Baker’s response is that the argument, as it stands, is ambiguous, and doesn’t work however it is disambiguated. The problem is with premise (2). If it claims that all animals, derivative or otherwise, started out as embryos, then it is (by Baker’s lights) false, as she (being a person essentially, and only an animal derivatively) did not start out as an embryo. She couldn’t have, because embryos aren’t persons, and she is essentially a person (she says). The alternative, making both the premises true, leads to an invalid argument:-
    1. I am an animal derivatively
    2. Everything that is an animal non-derivatively started out as an embryo
      Therefore,
    3. I started out as an embryo
  • I presume that the same repair has to be made for all sorts of (human) substitutes for “I” … student, professor, bus-inspector, but that it gets a bit wobbly is we get less intellectual – toddler, baby, neonate, chimpanzee, individual in a PVS, and so on.
  • Baker makes further application of the KD, claiming that it:-
    1. Answers Olson’s worries about ‘separate existence’,
    2. Defeats Olson’s claim that if x constitutes y at t, then x and y are numerically different, and
    3. Answers Olson’s “epistemological question” about how someone non-identical to an organism can know this alleged fact.
  • My immediate responses to these claims are as follows:- :-
    1. Separate existence: What was this worry? Presumably that (according to Olson’s view of Baker’s ontology) we have two things rather than one. If so, it’s the same worry is Baker answers in the next point.
    2. Constitution and Numerical Difference: this is really awkward, it seems to me. Baker is claiming that the person and the human organism are not “numerically different”. But what is “numerical difference”. Normally we’d say that two things are “numerically the same” if they are identical, but Baker denies this – one thing is not identical to the thing that constitutes it (because it might have been constituted by something else, yet identity is a necessary relation, and the existences may not be coterminous – so we’d have a failure of Leibniz’s Law).
    3. Epistemological Questions: Maybe the KD does answer this worry, but Baker doesn’t explain how here. Presumably the knowledge isn’t immediate, but is a metaphysical deduction.
  • Baker sees a single thread of misunderstanding in Olson’s response to her. Indeed, he doesn’t so much refute her arguments as ignore them, a complaint I think can be sustained. She says a whole Section of a Chapter of "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View" is devoted to this topic. Presumably this is part of "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Very Idea of Constitution", though it could be part of "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Constitution View of Human Persons", or "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Coherence Of the Idea of Material Constitution", or "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - The Coherence Of the Constitution View of Human Persons". I need to follow-up on this when reviewing these chapters.
  • Baker agrees that Identity is a necessary relation, but thinks there are two ways non-identical x, y can be related at time t:-
    1. By being constitutionally related, and
    2. By having separate existence.
  • These two ideas are “explicitly defined in familiar terms” (presumably in the aforementioned Section). The idea, presumably, is that where we don’t have identity we can either have completely separate things (apples and pears, or apple1 and apple2) or two things that nevertheless are not “separate existences”. This would be impossible on a perdurantist view (as the temporal worms are clearly distinct when not coterminous), but on an endurantist view (where a thing is “wholly present” at each time, is not obviously false.
  • Baker has another rant about Olson and whether she might have misunderstood him. While acknowledging that he believes that there are persons (though we should note that Olson avoids this term, preferring people), he ignores what’s distinctive about them. “On Olson’s view, being a person is no more fundamental to what we are than is being a fancier of fast cars”.
  • She makes a closing assertion that it is not her view that all value or matters of significance to us have ontological significance. However, she doesn’t explain where the boundaries lie.

Note last updated: 17/04/2018 21:04:19


Footnote 6.70.8: (Fine - A Counter-Example to Locke's Thesis)

This essay is a review of "Fine (Kit) - A Counter-Example To Locke's Thesis".

Author’s Abstract: Locke's thesis states that no two things of the same sort can be in the same place at the same time. The thesis has recently received extensive discussion, with some philosophers attempting to find arguments in its favour and others attempting to provide counter-examples. However, neither the arguments nor the counter-examples have been especially convincing; and it is my aim, in this short note, to present what I believe is a more convincing counter-example to the thesis.

Fine notes that those who disagree with Locke’s thesis include:-


… while those that support it include:-
Discussion
  1. Why do I care about this paper? Would I be more comfortable, metaphysically speaking, if its conclusions were true or false? This paper was referenced in "Fine (Kit) - The Non-Identity of a Material Thing and Its Matter", which I was reviewing, and which argues that a physical thing and its matter are distinct, yet co-located. Fine, in a footnote, claims that bolder assertions are also true – namely that physical things of the same sort can be co-located, even necessarily so. I was hoping that this short paper would shed light on Fine’s commitments that might make the longer and more difficult paper easier to understand and assess. It is disappointing in this respect, because Fine doesn’t consider the linguistic arguments in favour of monism that are addressed at length in the later paper. It is, however, interesting in its own right. Ultimately, my concerns are to do with personal identity, and at the end of this discussion I consider some of the possible consequences the paper has for this area of research.
  2. In the paper presently under discussion, Fine wants to show that it is possible for two physical things of the same sort to be co-located. His example is of a pair of letters – epistles, not alphabetic characters – sent between a husband and wife. The outgoing letter is written on one side of the paper and the returning letter on the other.
  3. For some reason not explained, the writing is effected by scorch-marks rather than by pen and ink. Presumably the intent is not to modify the paper by the addition of extraneous matter – ink – that might lead to the quibble that as a result the returning letter was not the same physical thing as the outgoing letter. Alternatively, the complaint might be that the husband’s letter consists in the paper and his ink, while the wife’s consists in the paper and her ink (or, maybe, the husband’s ink is already part of the wife’s letter’s infrastructure by this stage – though this asymmetrical view is harder to maintain), and consequently that the two letters are non-coincident and non-identical. Using scorching may be an attempt to finesse this issue, and while scorching does modify the paper – by oxidising it – it is less obvious that any writer’s letter “exclusively owns” the additional oxygen bound to its side. So, while the physical thing changes following each inscripturation, it’s not so obviously arguable in the case of scorching that there are two partially overlapping but non-identical physical things at the end of the process.
  4. The critic could dig his heels in and say firstly that inscripturation necessarily modifies the physical structure of the paper, and secondly that a letter necessarily consists in the piece of paper plus or minus whatever matter has been added (in the normal case) or subtracted (in the case of incised writing) in the process of writing the letter.
  5. The first claim is probably true, and is important because we are talking about physical things. However,
    • Modifying the physical structure does not necessarily involve adding or subtracting matter – it could involve a simple rearrangement (as is suggested later in this paper).
    • Moreover, we might argue that we might still say something despite no change whatsoever to either the matter or the structure of the original letter, to the effect that “I have nothing to say”, “it’s over” or an open-ended set of possibilities based on past history. This would arise in case the husband’s letter is simply returned. The meaning of a letter is dependent on many factors external to it, and to the manner and context of its sending. What is not said can be as significant as what is said.
    • Finally, it might even be possible to send a null (physical) letter. In The Poisoner (a French-language film set in post-war France – see Wikipedia: Marie Besnard (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Besnard) for the real-life background) the accused, acquitted and now demised Madame Besnard bequeaths to Simone (a reporter) a letter that Simone hopes will explain all. Yet the envelope is empty, heightening the uncertainty about her guilt. This null letter conveys information – though whether it is a tacit admission of guilt (in that the final opportunity for self-exculpation has been let slip), or simple playfulness remains unclear and might depend on a tacit understanding between Madame Besnard and Simone. Note that while in this example it might claimed that the envelope is part of the letter, and thus that the letter is not null, the text is null.
  6. The second claim is not implausible, but does not apply in the case of inscripturation by rearrangement. But even if it is correct, there may be better objections to Fine’s example, based either on an alleged confusion of a letter as a physical thing and as a kind of universal, or on the notion of constitution. We will come back to these possibilities later.
  7. Fine’s first example therefore purports to show that we can have two distinct physical things of the same sort – the husband’s letter and the wife’s letter – that occupy the same place at the same time. He gives the obvious reasons why this is the case for all four aspects of the claim. These are:-
    • The two objects are of the same sort.
    • They are coincident – at least at certain times.
    • They are distinct.
    • They are physical things.
  8. Drawing parallels with the distinctions between extreme, moderate and mild monists made in "Fine (Kit) - The Non-Identity of a Material Thing and Its Matter", this example is analogous to a counter-example to the position exemplified by the extreme monist, who identifies “two” things if “they” coincide at any time or times (but does not insist that they have to do so at all times).
  9. Note, however, that monism is a view about a thing and its matter, not about co-located items of the same sort. Even so, the three-fold analogy is worth pursuing.
  10. Fine next considers a second case analogous to that rejected by the moderate monist who only makes the identification if the coincidence occurs at all times within a world, and where both exist in that world at all times where either does. This case is set up by two people simultaneously scorching their messages on different sides of a piece of parchment stopping a hole in a wall.
  11. Finally, Fine considers a third case analogous to those rejected by the mild monist, who only makes the identification if the coincidence occurs at all times within all possible worlds. This case involves writing two letters simultaneously in two languages (Prittle and Prattle) that happen to coincide as far as their written text is concerned (in this short letter) but diverge as far as their meaning is concerned. So, while there is only one act of writing, and only one written text, two letters with different meanings are written. Fine claims that at all times in all possible worlds we have two distinct physical objects of the same sort occupying the same place at all times at which either exists.
  12. So, what, if anything, is wrong with these examples? The extreme and moderate forms are essentially analogous, while the mild case requires additional special treatment.
  13. Problems with the extreme and moderate examples: we need to consider the four “pillars” of the argument – I don’t think there are any other points at which we might cavil.
    • Same Sort: no problems that I can see. They are letters and LETTER is a sort.
    • Coincidence: I think we can get round any of the problems alluded to above. We might, for instance, build our letters out of micro-Lego so that writing the letter just involves rearranging some surface pieces.
    • Distinctness: here, we have to be clear on just what things are distinct, if they are indeed distinct. Qua physical object, we might argue that only one thing is present. Qua universal, there are two things present. While universals aren’t actually physically located anywhere, tokens of them can be. So, we might claim that a single physical thing is a token of two different universals. While there are two universals tokened, there is only one physical thing that tokens both. This explanation seems especially attractive in the mild monist example and leads on to the discussion in the following bullet. Alternatively, we might say that there is one physical thing present, which admittedly changes over time as physical things do, but that it constitutes first one letter, and then two letters. We might leave it open whether the letter that is constituted is itself a physical thing, but the usual position (eg. that of Lynne Rudder Baker) would be that it is a physical thing, and a distinct physical thing (though not of the same sort), but not something so distinct from the thing that constitutes it that we have to count two things.
    • Physical things: a letter, and what counts as the same letter, is subject to ambiguity. Letters are both particulars and universals. Take St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. This was once a physical letter written on papyrus. The original physical letter has long-since ceased to exist, but many copies (or copies of copies of ... copies) of it still exist. All of these are imperfect copies, no doubt. Some of the copies are now on computer disks and some very imperfect ones will be in peoples’ memories. To what does the term “St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans” (or, for that matter, “Shakespeare’s Hamlet”) presently refer? Not, I would suggest, to some long-lost manuscript, or some particular copy of a definitive published edition, but to a virtual text, the precise contents of which is a bit fuzzy. Maybe there’s (at any time) a true text “in the light of the best current scholarship”, so that the logical letter can evolve over time (as the “standard text” changes), just as – though in a different way – the physical letter can evolve over time (by having another letter written on the back, by being used as a palimpsest, or simply by becoming tatty).
  14. Is this particular / universal distinction really relevant here? To demonstrate that we have two physical things in the same place at the same time, Fine asks to what would we point when asked where the first letter is, and where the second letter, and it would indeed be to the same physical thing. But if asked of a computer image, or a photograph, whether this is the first letter, we would have to agree (provided it was a true representation). Now, is this a right analogy? Is it the letter, or an image of the letter, or a copy of the letter that we point out when we point to some physical thing other than the physical thing on to which the author’s definitive text was first splurged out? That is, on seeing a true photocopy, and being asked whether it is the letter I wrote, should I reply yes or no? Does the question relate to the text or the thing?
  15. Consider letters written by famous people. What the collector is after here is the autograph – that particular physical thing that the famous hand wrote on, together with the marks actually made. Different tokens in the author’s hand might be equally valuable, but a mere photocopy would not be. Alternatively, take Leibniz’s personal annotated copy of Locke’s Essay. The particular value of that physical book lies in it having Leibniz’s actual scribblings on it. A photocopy would not count, however interesting.
  16. So, objections based on type / token distinctions probably fail but, alternatively, could we say that a letter is a phase sortal of a piece of paper? Or, more accurately, that a token of a letter is a phase sortal of whatever physical medium expresses it? In that case, the one continuant physical thing is the piece of paper (or parchment, or assembly of micro-Lego), which undergoes various changes consistent with it remaining a piece of paper (or whatever) but which for periods of its existence has the property of being a letter or letters.
  17. Additional problems with the mild example: this is interesting, and whether we’re convinced by it depends on our modal intuitions. The example is convincing (subject to the above concerns about the metaphysical status of letters) just in case the closest worlds are those in which Prattle and Prattle stay divergent (as far as the text-string in the letters is concerned). What we want is that any world that contains the letter written in Prittle also contains the letter written in Prattle co-located. But why should the vocabulary and grammar of Prittle stay constant across these worlds? Or do we just say that those worlds in which Prittle and Prattle diverge from their real-world exemplars are worlds in which the original letters don’t exist. But then can’t we suggest a counterfactual like, “if the grammar of Prattle had been different, the Prattle-interpretation of this Prittle-letter wouldn’t have been so amusing”. In any case, Fine should have given some more justification for his claim.
  18. In the above, we must focus, as Fine does, on the necessary divergence. Fine doesn’t consider variations in Prittle and Prattle, but only considers the act of writing. He assumes that the four pillars of his general argument remain sound, namely sameness of sort, coincidence, distinctness and physicality, and that the only issues are to do with the necessary truth of these pillars. This is right, but which of the pillars is most at risk of modal divergence? He doesn’t discuss the first and fourth, as these don’t differ from the earlier examples. He focuses on the second – necessary coincidence. It is to be noted, though unremarked by Fine, that he gives up on scorching and allows ink to be used – presumably because there are now no available quibbles on the “coincidence” front due to ink-ownership claims since – as there is only one act of writing – both letters are necessarily written simultaneously using the same materials. He does discuss distinctness – they are distinct because they are in different languages – but he doesn’t discuss necessary distinctness. What would be a counter-example? I think this is where the argument breaks down. Can’t there be worlds in which Prittle and Prattle coincide (at least as far as the text of the letter is concerned) and consequently there’s only one letter?
  19. Could we modify the mild monist example in any way to improve it? This is not easy. Say we tried to do away with the possible divergent or convergent languages, for instance having the same English text that means different things to different people, in some indexical manner? For example, “Do what I told you to do last Friday”, where the action may be different. But is the meaning the same, and if it is the same, do we have distinct letters? I think we could argue that they are distinct, Yet even so, how would this state of affairs vary across possible worlds? The actions would not necessarily be different, so maybe this example doesn’t work either. But if the letters are different if their intended recipients are different (even if the instruction is the same), does the example stand up? But are the recipients necessarily different?
  20. What lessons can be learnt or parallels drawn from all this? I’m really interested in people, and personal identity, so what applications can be made? Here are some very brief pointers.
    • Firstly, some views of persons effectively consider them as some form of tokened universal. This seems to be the view of those who think I would survive teletransportation where only information is transmitted. This view is probably consistent with the thought that I am an essentially physical being, and does not rely on substance dualism (indeed, it probably denies it); this is probably what the psychological view reduces to for the physicalist. Again, it is often said that I am defined by my psychology, and that anything appropriately psychologically continuous with me, or psychologically connected to me, is (identical to) me. This runs up against reduplication objections that cannot always be resolved by arbitrary “closest continuer” choices. The consequence of this may be that I am viewed as some sort of universal that may be multiply tokened, or maybe tokened to various degrees. Yet some tokens (like the autograph letter) are more important than others – in particular, the token (if any) in which my first-person perspective – my actual window on the world, not some qualitatively exactly similar one – persists.
    • Secondly, persons may be considered as phase sortals of other things, such as human animals. On this view, in contrast to Baker’s Constitution View, there are not two substances overlapping – a person and a human animal – but one substance that possesses especially interesting properties at certain times, and is consequently worthy of special treatment, and at other times is a less interesting “mere human animal” for which (maybe) such special treatment is purely sentimental. The human being might qualify as a person only during phases of its existence, when it possesses the right psychology. In the case of the letters, there is one substance – the physical bit of paper (singed or not, variously inky, incised or rearranged) that for phases of its existence has the property of being a letter, and at some times has the property of being two letters simultaneously. Yet there is only one physical thing and not two coincident physical things. Can there be co-located persons? This is the view of those who believe Multiple Personality Disorder indicates two persons rather than a divided personality. We can see how this overlapping might take place for less significant phase sortals than PERSON – STUDENT for instance. A student might also be considered as a phase sortal of a human being. The Cambridge student might overlap temporally with the Birkbeck student. Yet there is only one substance – the human being, and not two or three overlapping substances. In particular, the Birkbeck student and the Cambridge student are not two distinct co-located physical things.
    • Thirdly, Constitution. If the letter is constituted by the physical thing that “is” it, then that physical thing can constitute two letters simultaneously, yet without any co-location of multiple physical things. If the letter is thought of as being something over and above the thing that (presently constitutes it), maybe we have a parallel to Lynne Rudder Baker’s view of the constitution of human persons by their bodies. But Baker doesn’t think of persons as universals, but as essentially physical beings. Also, she wouldn’t allow for multiple realisation or multiple tokening. There can only be one physical thing (at a time) with my first person perspective (it is claimed; though how this is so, and how determined, is left unclear). Additionally, she has persons as ontologically distinct from the human animals that constitute them. Is this true of letters, or is a letter constituted by its paper and ink in a different way from that in which a person is said to be constituted by her body? Probably. What if the same letter can be constituted by different physical structures. For example (a) St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans or (b) if the scorching set fire to the letter in Fine’s original example – is any replacement letter the same letter or a different one? There are obvious parallels in the case of personal identity with the claim that originally exercised Locke – that resurrection should make sense.
    • Finally, necessary distinctness. Are there any parallels in the field of personal identity research to Fine’s necessary co-location of physical objects of the same sort? Indeed, we haven’t really considered whether there are any contingent co-locations for persons. Presumably this is the case on the psychological view of personal identity where we have multiple personality disorder. In that case, there are two persons physically co-located, though maybe they are only intermingled, depending on how their psychology is physically realised. I cannot see that such a case could ever be necessary.
  21. Conclusion: Do I think Fine’s examples stand up, and do I really care? I think I must reject the idea that two physical things of the same sort can be co-located. My rejection isn’t because I have any particular axe to grind, but because there are other ways of describing the situation that are more appealing.
    • This is partly an aesthetic judgement, but is a response to a rather odd claim. If multiple things of the same sort can be co-located, then some of our usual mass-term notions go wrong, though maybe the count-term notions are unaffected.
    • So, while we can carefully inspect the sheet of paper and determine that there are two letters present (just as we’d have to do when inspecting 5 sheets – there might be one or more letters present; we can only tell by careful inspection), if we ask how much the two letters weigh, and whether when we put both letters on the scales they weigh as much as the combined weight of each of the two letters weighed separately, we run into trouble.
    • We should do everything we can in describing the situation to avoid such conundrums. So, we should choose one of the alternative descriptions – that we have one physical thing present, but that this one thing either tokens two other things, or constitutes two other things, or that these other things are phase sortals of that one physical thing.
    • We then have to answer various questions about the metaphysical status of these other things. It is for this reason that I prefer the phase sortal approach, because there’s no temptation to think that we have multiple co-located substances, as in Baker’s Constitution View, or of confounding universals and particulars (on the token view).
    • The examples that Fine gives are probably generalisable in some way to other artefacts whose identities are dependent on external factors. Statues are the usual favourite. It might be that a statue that had some iconic status in a culture is extracted from that culture and receives a completely different one in another. In that case, we have multiple co-located statues. We should take this case further – are statues tokened? Is Discobolos a universal, multiply tokened, or are all the statues (including the ancient Roman ones) mere copies of the Greek original.
    • Or, take the case of symbols – maybe this is just the ultimately miniaturised version of Fine’s final example – for example, the use of the swastika in modern European and Indian cultures. How many physical symbols are present when I see, and hurriedly remove, a swastika from an Indian gift? We have only one physical thing, but that thing tokens two ideas, or constitutes two symbols. Alternatively, we can adopt the phase sortal approach. For certain periods of its existence it has certain interesting properties or relations that make us want to describe it in a special way, and maybe in multiple ways, even of the same category, at the same time.

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


Footnote 6.70.10: (Snowdon - Naturalism and Metaphysics)

  1. Paul Snowdon provided no hand-out, so this is all we’ve got ... any footnotes are my own comments.
  2. Is the naturalistic worldview OK? The assumption – a “natural one” – is that naturalism excludes religion – that they are in opposition.
  3. So, what is naturalism?
    • It’s an “ism”. There are lots of “Ism’s” in philosophy. It’s useful to have a name, but we need a shared understanding.
    • Platonism appeared last – and the most despised – on Snowdon’s list of “isms”.
    • Naturalism (according to the “motivating blurb”) involves:-
      1). Rejection of the supernatural,
      2). Rejection of the spooky,
      3). The over-extension of the scope of science, going beyond science’s proper place.
  4. Spookiness: doesn't help. Many aspects of the physical world are spooky. Matthew Platt - it's a queer world. Mackie’s argument from queerness (against ethical realism; see "Mackie (J.L.) - The Subjectivity of Values") fails because the world is queer. Naturalism picks out all the things there are and doesn’t rule out spooky things. Supernaturalism isn’t necessarily spooky, so the rejection of spookiness isn’t part of naturalism1.
  5. Science: Is human activity aiming at the truth of certain things. It is not the only way of pursuing truth – alternatives are observation, history, mathematics, philosophy, ... So, we can’t say that science is the measure of all things. The method of science is secondary – it has to start from data obtained prior to science, so is not independent. There’s no reason to think that all truth is discoverable by science – hence other disciplines exist.
  6. So, does naturalism imply that all that exists is available for scientific investigation? This is probably correct, and there is no reason to claim that this is an over-extension in advance; this turns on there exist objects that science cannot investigate.
  7. While it’s true that naturalism opposes the supernatural, this is tautological and doesn’t help explain naturailism.
  8. Another irrelevance is the opposition between the natural and the artificial. Computers exist!
  9. Snowdon mentioned Snowdon (Peter) - Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties, though I don't know with what intent2.
  10. Human beings have a nature, but this is too narrow for use here.
  11. So, Naturalism ( T-Naturalism; the T-World: where “T” stands for “Traditional”) is Space, Time and the things in Space and Time. This is an ontological / metaphysical thesis: this is all that exists3.
  12. But, this doesn’t tell you what things are in Space and Time – this is a matter for investigation. Nor does it mean that we know the nature of Space and Time – this is also for investigation, though we need an understanding. Space and Time are Natural Kind categories (just as Gold and Water are Natural Kind categories, whose natures are to be investigated).
  13. Worries: T-Naturalism doesn’t need to be the best account of naturalism. If arguments don’t work against T-Naturalism, they can be set aside. Arguments against T-Naturalism are all metaphysical.
  14. There is an Epistemological Asymmetry. There is no problem about the existence of the T-Natural world – it’s an epistemological “given”. If you want to extend whatever exists beyond the T-Natural world, you need arguments - so, the onus is on those who want to go beyond T-Naturalism. It is not up to T-Naturalism to prove that there is “nothing else”.
  15. This isn’t a verificationist intelligibility claim. Snowdon is happy that (some) things that go beyond T-Naturalism can be understood. Not that everything makes sense, but there’s no prohibition about going beyond T-Naturalism.
  16. Arguments against T-Naturalism: aren’t there elements of human discourse that commit us to going beyond T-Naturalism? Values, numbers, necessities ..? Those raising such difficulties have to block avoidance manoeuvres on the part of the T-Naturalist along the lines of “suppose it is true that such discourse is unacceptable without going beyond T-Naturalism, then so much the worse for such discourse”. We might decide that or commitment to T-Naturalism exceeds that to the discourse, so abandon the discourse (about values, numbers, …).
  17. The response of the T-Naturalist – other than abandoning the discourse, is to try to locate the truth-makers, or grounds, of this discourse in the natural world. This leads to ethical, modal or mathematical Naturalism.
  18. Re-interpretative … looks as if it has ontological / truth and … morality etc. “expressivists”. Religious people can adopt this approach … it undermines the naturalist / supernaturalist distinction … a pre-emptive strike4!





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: This seems a bit quick. Presumably what’s intended by “spookiness” is things like – well – spooks, which are paradigmatically supernatural. But they aren’t part of classical theism. Nothing could be less spooky than the traditional concept of an omnipotent, good deity … though some aspects (omniscience and omnipresence might seem a bit spooky)

Footnote 2: Here are the first couple of paragraphs of that brief book (sample pages filched from the web):-
  • The term "naturalism" is elastic in its use. The fact that it has been applied to the work of philosophers having as little in common as Hume and Spinoza is enough to suggest that there is a distinction to be drawn between varieties of naturalism. In later chapters, I shall myself draw a distinction between two main varieties, within which there are sub-varieties. Of the two main varieties, one might be called strict or reductive naturalism (or, perhaps, hard naturalism). The other might be called catholic or liberal naturalism (or, perhaps, soft naturalism). …
  • Each of these two general varieties of naturalism will be seen by its critics as liable to lead its adherents into intellectual aberration. The exponent of some sub-varieties of strict or reductive naturalism is liable to be accused of what is pejoratively known as scientism, and of denying evident truths and realities. The soft or catholic naturalist, on the other hand, is liable to be accused of fostering illusions or propagating myths. I do not want to suggest that a kind of intellectual cold war between the two is inevitable. There is, perhaps, a possibility of compromise or détente, even of reconciliation. The soft or catholic naturalist, as his name suggests, will be the readier with proposals for peaceful coexistence
Footnote 3: But, what about Universals, Numbers, etc.? Snowdon isn’t a Platonist, so where are they? He comes on to this later

Footnote 4: I seem to have missed the point at issue here, and my notes are defective

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


Footnote 6.70.11: (Haldane - Naturalism and the Mind)

  1. Haldane had an extensive hand-out ("Haldane (John) - Naturalism and Mind") but didn’t stick to it, being deflected by the (rather unsurprising) things Papineau had to say (in "Papineau (David) - The Argument for Naturalism about the Mind").
  2. Papineau’s arguments belong to a family2 (from Donald Davidson, David Lewis, and so on). Mind makes a difference, but both cause and effect are physical. Haldane thinks that the argument is less straightforward than it might seem.
  3. Scientific Explanation is a “privileged” route to knowledge.
  4. The “integral unity of substances”. Effects flow from the nature of things – which are not just lumps of stuff.
  5. The rejection of the supernatural – but another Haldane – an atheist – claimed that the world is stranger than we can3 think.
  6. In contemporary usage supernatural is really praeternatural4 – the miraculous – ie. beyond the ordinary powers of substances. Strictly, supernatural is the operation of grace.
  7. If we depart from physicalism, does this mean that we need to view the mind in praeternaturalist terms? No.
  8. There are three views of metaphysics:-
    • Metaphysics as science - Quine – scientism.
    • Metaphysics as a priori etc. This view is deflationary about ontology. Does whatever we talk about in a regulated and well-ordered manner exist? If so, then what we mean by saying that numbers exist is that there exists a well-ordered discourse that involves them. For realism about minds, we need more than just talk about them – we need them to make a difference.
    • Third5 option – not discussed?
  9. Arguments6 against physicalism in the philosophy of mind:-
    • a. Sensibility: Eg. consciousness. Not persuasive.
    • b. Intelligibility: Modality, etc.
  10. Substances (eg. water) are identified by their causal powers – whether active (abilities) or passive (liabilities). Eg. Acid has the ability to dissolve.
  11. Haldane is not impressed by the arguments from consciousness (as arguments against physicalism). It’s not obvious that consciousness isn’t part of the physical world. It’s “isomorphic” to the physical world – can turn up the volume. Consciousness is just a mode of receptivity to the physical.
  12. Aquinas: unpack. We have powers of categorisation into kinds. Universals are not material. There’s no such thing as the organ of thought. Deliberation is not over particulars (= actuals) but over possibles.
  13. To be continued7?





In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 2: Track down the references in these philosophers.

Footnote 3: According to Wikipedia (Wikiquote: Arthur Eddington (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_Eddington)), “Though sometimes attributed to Eddington without citation, this seems to be derived from a statement by J. B. S. Haldane (Wikiquote: J. B. S. Haldane (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/J._B._S._Haldane)) in Possible Worlds and Other Papers (1927), p. 286: The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.“

Footnote 4: See, for instance, Wikipedia: Preternatural (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preternatural).

Footnote 5: The hand-out has:-
  1. Metaphysics as science
  2. Metaphysics as prior to and independent of empirical knowledge
  3. Metaphysics as interpretative of empirical and other knowledge.
Footnote 6: Haldane had a (non-distributed!) hand-out with 20 arguments against physicalism.

Footnote 7: My notes run out at this point, but don’t indicate that there was more said – they run straight on to the Q&As. I’ve no idea what the point of Haldane’s talk was.

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


Footnote 6.70.13: (Third Man)

  • My second pre-submitted BA Finals essay on Greek Philosophy, which asks whether the Third Man Argument refutes Plato's Theory of Forms. I have to admit that, but for the course, I wouldn't have looked into this subject, and those reading the essay should have a bottle of paracetamol to hand.
  • Currently, this Essay is only available as a PDF: Click here. It is my intention to convert this to Note format in due course.

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


Footnote 6.71 Repeated. See Footnote 40: (Closest Continuer)


Footnote 6.72 Repeated. See Footnote 45: (Teletransportation)


Footnote 6.73 Repeated. See Footnote 20.11: (Consciousness)


Footnote 6.74 Repeated. See Footnote 24.9: (Substance)


Footnote 6.75 Repeated. See Footnote 18: (Forensic Property)


Footnote 6.76 Repeated. See Footnote 28: (Phase Sortals)


Footnote 6.77 Repeated. See Footnote 29.15: (Animal Rights)


Footnote 6.78 Repeated. See Footnote 23.29: (Animalism - Objections)


Footnote 6.79 Repeated. See Footnote 23.23: (Corpses)


Footnote 6.80 Repeated. See Footnote 23.14: (Fetuses)


Footnote 6.81 Repeated. See Footnote 14.4: (Mereology)


Footnote 6.82 Repeated. See Footnote 32.23: (Brain Transplants)


Footnote 6.83 Repeated. See Footnote 12.11: (Transplants)


Footnote 6.84: (Brain Criterion)

Plug Note1

  • There will naturally be some overlap on this topic with the topics of
    Brains2 and
    Criteria of Identity3.
  • The question is whether the brain is the be-all and end-all of the matter of personal identity for human persons4.
  • It is acknowledged by most that – conceptually at least – there can be persons5 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 soul7) 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 fission9, where – after equalising the hemispheres in psychological potency, we transplant10 one into another body lacking both hemispheres. Or, without needing anything so radical, we sever the corpus callosum in a commissurotomy11, thereby (on this view) creating two persons in one body.
  • However, if we are animalists12,13 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 matters15”). 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 are17– 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 by18 them (or various other things).
  • Only if19 we believe that we are (identical to) brains20 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-holder24.





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 6.85 Repeated. See Footnote 23.2: (Olson)


Footnote 6.86 Repeated. See Footnote 17.6: (Brains in Vats)


Footnote 6.87 Repeated. See Footnote 33: (Fusion)


Footnote 6.88 Repeated. See Footnote 11.4: (Vague Identity)


Footnote 6.89: (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:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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: 17/08/2018 21:59:02


Footnote 6.90: (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.
Footnote 14:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
Footnote 19: And in the “outstanding” list where the usual suspects are concerned.

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.

Note last updated: 17/08/2018 17:35:31


Footnote 6.91: (Sleep)

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:
  • “To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”
    → Hamlet, Act-III, Scene-I, Lines 66-68
Footnote 10:
  • If only a “non-updating” run has been made, the links are only one-way – ie. from the page of links to the objects that reference this Note by mentioning the appropriate key-word(s). The links are also only indicative, as they haven’t yet been confirmed as relevant.
  • Once an updating run has been made, links are both ways, and links from this Notes page (from the “Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note” and “Summary of Note Links to this Page” sections) are to the “point of link” within the page rather than to the page generically. Links from the “links page” remain generic.
  • There are two sorts of updating runs – for Notes and other Objects. The reason for this is that Notes are archived, and too many archived versions would be created if this process were repeatedly run.
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: 22/11/2018 16:20:38


Footnote 6.92 Repeated. See Footnote 37: (Psychological Continuity - Forward)


Footnote 6.93 Repeated. See Footnote 12.6: (Brain)


Footnote 6.94 Repeated. See Footnote 22: (Concepts)


Footnote 6.95: (Buddhism)

Plug Note1

  • Buddhist teachings are relevant in two ways to personal identity:-
    1. The rejection of the importance of the Self2. There are some connections to Parfit’s3 ideas.
    2. The insistence on Reincarnation4.
  • 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 view5" of our persistence conditions6 - 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-holder10.





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 (Wikipedia: Succession of the 14th Dalai Lama (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 persons2 really are.
  • Maybe it’s best first of all to step back, with Locke3, and consider the sorts4 of thing that persist and establish the persistence conditions5 for these sorts:
    bodies6,
    animals7,
    human beings8.
  • The ontological question is whether – with Locke – we should add persons to this list.
  • Baker9 holds the view that when a person comes into existence, so does a new entity, of a new kind10. A world without persons would be ontologically impoverished.
  • But is this so, or do existing entities simply gain new properties11?
  • We must even (on certain definitions of PERSON) ask whether there are any12, 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 sorites13 arguments eliminate all material entities with parts14, 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-holder17. 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 7.2 Repeated. See Footnote 8: (Person)


Footnote 7.3 Repeated. See Footnote 18.2: (Locke)


Footnote 7.4 Repeated. See Footnote 9: (Sortals)


Footnote 7.5 Repeated. See Footnote 12.5: (Persistence Criteria)


Footnote 7.6 Repeated. See Footnote 17: (Body)


Footnote 7.7 Repeated. See Footnote 29: (Animals)


Footnote 7.8 Repeated. See Footnote 12.8: (Human Beings)


Footnote 7.9 Repeated. See Footnote 23.16: (Baker)


Footnote 7.10 Repeated. See Footnote 24.6: (Kinds)


Footnote 7.11 Repeated. See Footnote 16.5: (Properties)


Footnote 7.12 Repeated. See Footnote 41.11: (Nihilism)


Footnote 7.13 Repeated. See Footnote 25.9: (Sorites)


Footnote 7.14 Repeated. See Footnote 14.4: (Mereology)


Footnote 7.17 Repeated. See Footnote 10.14: (Awaiting Attention (Personal Identity))


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 beings2 rather than human animals) when we thought we were talking about something separate, namely persons?
  • I need to start with some conceptual3 analysis, though this may lead to somewhat arbitrary (ie. merely semantic4 or culture-relative) conclusions if PERSON isn’t a natural kind5 concept.
  • I accept Locke6’s conceptual distinction between Human Beings7 (“Men”), Persons and Substances8. 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 identity9, and shows how difficult it is for me, at least, to maintain the strict logic of identity10 in these discussions.
  • Some further, fairly random, thoughts:-
    • We must not ignore potential differences between the Person, the Self11 and the Individual12.
    • I doubt the truth of the contention that one’s Self is the sum of one’s projects, one’s individual “identity13”.
    • We must also note the potential for degrees of personhood14.
    • Are persons essentially sentient? Or rational? And is rationality, like the mental generally, overstated by philosophers whose favourite habitat it is?
    • What about temporal gaps15 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 deceased16)?
    • How important is “person”, as against “sentient being17” in my research concerns? The Cartesians denied sentience to animals18 and until recently there has been a down-playing of the capacities of animals, particularly their emotional capacities. Consequently, the persistence criteria19 for sentient non-humans may not have been given the focus they ought. I suspect that many of the thought experiments20 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 tomorrow21”. 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-holder25. 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 8.2 Repeated. See Footnote 12.8: (Human Beings)


Footnote 8.3 Repeated. See Footnote 22: (Concepts)


Footnote 8.4 Repeated. See Footnote 22.5: (Semantics)


Footnote 8.5 Repeated. See Footnote 26: (Natural Kinds)


Footnote 8.6 Repeated. See Footnote 18.2: (Locke)


Footnote 8.7 Repeated. See Footnote 12.8: (Human Beings)


Footnote 8.8 Repeated. See Footnote 24.9: (Substance)


Footnote 8.9 Repeated. See Footnote 11.3: (Relative Identity)


Footnote 8.10 Repeated. See Footnote 11: (Logic of Identity)


Footnote 8.11 Repeated. See Footnote 13.6: (Self)


Footnote 8.12 Repeated. See Footnote 32.12: (Individual)


Footnote 8.13 Repeated. See Footnote 6.31: (Narrative Identity)


Footnote 8.14 Repeated. See Footnote 18.10: (Degrees of Personhood)


Footnote 8.15 Repeated. See Footnote 14.3: (Intermittent Objects)


Footnote 8.16 Repeated. See Footnote 20.8: (Death)


Footnote 8.17 Repeated. See Footnote 20.11: (Consciousness)


Footnote 8.18 Repeated. See Footnote 29: (Animals)


Footnote 8.19 Repeated. See Footnote 12.5: (Persistence Criteria)


Footnote 8.20 Repeated. See Footnote 31: (Thought Experiments)


Footnote 8.21 Repeated. See Footnote 17.11: (Future Great Pain Test)


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 8.25 Repeated. See Footnote 10.14: (Awaiting Attention (Personal Identity))


Footnote 9: (Sortals)

Plug Note1