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Personal Identity

Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)

(Text as at 28/09/2022 10:24:58)

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Abstract




Research Methodology


Chapter Introduction4
  1. As we saw in Chapter 02, nothing is more obvious than that we are Human Animals5. The disadvantages of whole-hearted acceptance of this seemingly obvious fact – leading to ‘conversion’ to Animalism6 – are at least twofold:-
    1. Firstly, that it seems to demote human beings from their status of being made in the image of the God many – maybe most – people no longer really believe in. There are two responses to this: Either
      1. Deny that it does, or
      2. Accept this claim and agree that the differences between human beings and other animals are those of degree rather than kind.
    2. A second disadvantage is that accepting that we are human animals makes the prospects for post-mortem survival look bleak. This is addressed in Chapter 11.
  2. So, while saying that we are human animals might seem to be the default position – and so the burden is on others to demonstrate that we are not – the historical situation places a burden on the Animalist to present the case for animalism with as much rigour as possible. Saying ‘it’s obvious’ isn’t enough.
  3. Firstly, it needs to be made clear what the claim that ‘we are animals’ – the Biological View7 – amounts to. The Animalist makes the claim that this is one of numerical identity. We’re not simply animals in the sense of having animal bodies, while ‘really’ being something else. Being members of the species Homo Sapiens8 is what we really are.
  4. So, our persistence criteria are Biological Criteria9, and the implications of this need to be spelled out.
  5. Despite the ‘obviousness’ of the Biological View, most contemporary philosophers are unconvinced, as was noted in the first Chapter. I have a Note detailing just which Philosophers can be counted as Animalists10. Eric Olson11 was probably responsible for clarifying and popularising the position. I also have a Note on David Wiggins12, though his status as a card-carrying Animalist is doubted by some, including Olson.
  6. The Biological View is often referred to as the Organism View, so we need to consider what Organisms13 are, and – indeed – what Life14 is, including when it starts – Animation15. I’ve referenced my Note on Quantum Mechanics16 here as recent research has attempted to implicate it in the mechanism of life. We discuss life’s end – Death – in Chapter 11.
  7. Recently, some philosophers have tried ascribing intentionality to Plants17, which I think is muddying the waters, just as is trying to include fish in the moral community.
  8. We need to consider Evolution18, especially as this is a major consideration in why we are animals. I also have Notes on Genetics19 and Origins20, which are connected to this subject and others.
  9. After all this ground-clearing, we need to consider Animals21 themselves – especially those at the higher end of the spectrum most closely related to Homo Sapiens in their abilities and potential moral considerability, leading on to Animal Rights22.
  10. Finally, we get down to the actual Arguments for Animalism23, of which Olson’s favourite is the Thinking Animal Argument24.



Note Hierarchy
  1. Animalism25
    1. Human Animals26
    2. Biological View28
    3. Biological Criterion29
    4. Animalists30
  2. Organisms34
    1. Life35
    2. Plants38
    3. Evolution39
  3. Animals42
    1. Animal Rights43
  4. Arguments for Animalism44
    1. Thinking Animal Argument45



Main Text
  1. Animalism46
    1. There are different interpretations of Animalism, which I need to compare and contrast. My preferred option is Olson47’s, namely, that animalism is the view that we are identical to human animals48 and that, since human animals49 don’t have any psychological properties essentially, neither do we.
    2. Olson is probably the best known active Animalist50. His two books below need to be analysed in exhaustive detail.
      "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology" and
      "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology".
      Follow the above link for other animalists.
    3. Olson’s claim is not that there are no non-animal persons, but that human persons are essentially animals. Other animalists, such as Wiggins51, insist (or are said to insist, or used to insist) that the only persons are indeed human beings52, or are (maybe) other animals.
    4. I incline to agree with Olson on the topic of what we are53, but need to press hard with thought experiments54 to see why we can’t separate the two – that is, why we can’t separate where we go as persons55 from where we go as animals: our personhood can’t be pealed off from our animality and ported to some other infrastructure – or at least not while preserving our identity.
    5. There is a distinction between persons and human animals. Is the distinction empirical or conceptual? Why can’t I copy my consciousness56 onto a machine57 and that machine be me? There seem to be two issues here.
      1. Firstly, my intuition is that phenomenal consciousness essentially involves a brain-like infrastructure and
      2. Secondly, copying a consciousness onto a machine isn’t identity-preserving, even if possible, but is the creation of a simulacrum58.
    6. Basically, I reject both functionalism59 and the idea of consciousness “hopping from one infrastructure to another”. Incidentally, I rather hope we can’t copy our phenomenal consciousness onto a machine, or the possibility of hell on earth unfolds. The nasty business of very extended torment could be delegated to another machine that neither knows nor cares what it is doing.
    7. Also, should we consider fetuses60 and the senile or those in a PVS61 as persons? See Baker62 who alleges that those who have, will have or have had the capacity for a first-person perspective63 should be accounted persons. But is this simply arbitrary retrofitting of philosophy to Christian doctrine (though Wiggins64 seems to share this view; individuals are persons if typical individuals of their kind are persons)?
    8. I must also discuss animals65 under this head. If we are identical to (human) animals then to what, exactly, are we identical – that is, just what is a human animal – and that are their persistence conditions66? Note that there are disagreements about the referent of “animal” – is it the organism67 or the body68? The key issue is with corpses69. Feldman thinks they are animals, but Olson thinks they aren’t. Death70 is central to the enquiry. Just when does the person or animal commence71 or cease to be? If he is resuscitated (or resurrected72 / reincarnated73, assuming these to be possible) what happens in the interregnum74?
    9. As noted elsewhere75,76, I need to investigate the termini of human existence, and the issues they raise for the various views – the “fetus problem77” for the constitution view and the “corpse problem78” for animalism.
    1. Human Animals79
      1. I haven’t anything to say currently here other than what is covered in a bunch of related topics.
      2. However, as this is what I think answers the question What Are We?80, and is the plural of the title of "Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology", it seems sensible to create this topic as one onto which detailed discussion may eventually be hived off.
      3. The main point – often re-iterated – is that we are Animals81, and while we are animals of a special kind82, there is no ontological83 difference – other than of degree – between our species84 and other animals.
      4. I note further that Baker85 might agree with this as far as it goes, but she thinks there is a major ontological difference when the human animal becomes a person86. I deny this, as will most animalists87.
      • Homo Sapiens88
        1. If animalism89 is correct – and we are human animals90 – then we are members of the species homo sapiens.
        2. Consequently, we need to say something about the nature of species, their reality and their status as natural kind91 concepts.
        3. Also relevant is Stephan Blatti’s “Animal Ancestors” Argument for Animalism (see "Blatti (Stephan) - A New Argument for Animalism", etc.).
        4. So, we must also investigate human evolution92, and investigate answers to the question of just when our hominid ancestors became persons93.
        5. I also note the discussions on Neanderthals and their relation to – and possible interbreeding with – modern humans. Were Neanderthals persons94, and were they human persons95, or examples of non-human persons96?
        6. If this interbreeding was actual – and it is claimed that 4% of the non-African human genome is Neanderthal (see the end of Aeon: Kohn - The Neanderthal mind, an [Aeon paper]+N1292#W9432WN+) – what has this to say about the status of Neanderthals? If they could interbreed with modern humans and produce fertile offspring, how could they be a separate species to homo sapiens? See Wikipedia: Neanderthal, where there’s doubt over whether the Neanderthals should be designated Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis; ie. as a separate species or as a sub-species of modern humans.
        7. As these ancestors are all gone, investigation of the capacities of our nearest neighbours – the great apes – must often make do as a proxy, though consideration of these will be covered by what I have to say on Animal Rights97.
        8. I just note here the contentions – in "Diamond (Jared) - The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee: How Our Animal Heritage Affects the Way We Live" – that the genus “homo” ought to include chimpanzees and gorillas.
        9. I don’t think it’s a conceptual truth that the only persons are human persons98. However, I do think it’s an empirical truth that the only persons whose personhood we reliably know anything about are human persons, members of the species homo sapiens, so think we should start there.
    2. Biological View99
      1. The Biological View (BV) is that we are100 biological organisms101, and – in particular – have the persistence conditions102 of biological organisms. Since the organisms we are are obviously human animals103, this view is effectively just Animalism104.
      2. However, it is just possible that the BV and Animalism might part company for some philosophers. Maybe you might think that we are essentially animals, but can metamorphose105 from one species to another or be reincarnated106 as an individual of another species – or as a different individual of the same species. These might count as variants of the BV, but would not be Animalism107 as commonly understood, since it presupposes that we cease to be at death, and are essentially human animals108 and, indeed, essentially one and the same human animal.
      3. The BV is to be distinguished from older physicalist109 variants – in particular the “Body View110”.
      4. For the detailed principles of individuation and persistence criteria associated with the BV, see the Biological Criterion111.
    3. Biological Criterion112
      1. Biological Criteria are the criteria of identity113 associated with the biological view114 of what we115 human beings116 are.
      2. Animalism117 takes this biological view, that we are human animals118 (as distinct from persons119, or immaterial souls120). So, our persistence criteria are those of animals121.
      3. What should be discussed here is just what these criteria are.
      4. Biological identity criteria in general are slightly wider than those of animals in particular, as they include those for plants122 and other biological organisms123.
      5. Locke124 made the first stab at what this criterion might be. His view was that it was the participation in a single life125 that made an organism126 the same organism over time. The concept of a life is itself in need of explanation, and may not (in the absence of vitalism) be logically prior to the concept of an organism.
      6. It seems to me that the biological criterion could (theoretically, at least) allow for metamorphosis127 (provided that the metamorphosis128 is into another organism). There are, however, sortal129 objections to metamorphosis130.
      7. The jumping-off point for this topic is probably "Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities". However, the book is at pains to point out that the persistence criteria for exemplars of particular species – and, indeed, their principles of individuation – differ greatly. Standard views are overly influenced by the assumption that all biological individuals are like large mammals rather than, say, strawberry plants131. However, as we are large mammals, I’m not too worried about this fine point.
      8. Note that the biological criterion is to be distinguished from the body criterion132, with which the psychological criterion133 was originally contrasted.
    4. Animalists134
      1. Who is an animalist depends on who you ask. Some are self-proclaimed, and others are claimed to be so by others.
      2. The following would definitely seem to be animalists:-
        1. Michael R. Ayers,
        2. Andrew M. Bailey,
        3. Stephan Blatti,
        4. William Carter,
        5. David Hershenov,
        6. David Mackie,
        7. Eric Olson,
        8. Paul Snowdon,
        9. Peter Van Inwagen, and135
        10. Richard Wollheim.
      3. In addition,
        1. David Wiggins, and
        2. Bernard Williams
        are sometimes claimed (I think by Stephan Blatti).
      4. Olson in "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology" has Carter, Ayers, van Inwagen and Snowdon; but also:-
        1. Joshua Hoffman and Gary Rosenkrantz, and
        2. Trenton Merricks.
      5. However, in "Olson (Eric) - Psychology and Personal Identity", Olson claims that – contrary to appearances – David Wiggins and Jay Rosenberg are supporters of the PV136.
      6. "Bailey (Andrew M.) - The Elimination Argument" agrees that Merricks and van Inwagen are animalists.
      7. "Johansson (Jens) - What is Animalism?" has Ayers, Carter, Mackie, Merricks, Olson, Snowdon, Van Inwagen, and Wiggins, but also:-
        1. John McDowell, and
        2. Derek Parfit.
      8. It is likely that many atheist or agnostic philosophers who don’t specifically treat of personal identity are animalists. "Quinn (Philip L.) - Review of Antony Flew's 'The Logic of Mortality'" seems to describe Antony Flew as such, though Quinn doesn’t use the term “animalist”.
      9. "Bourget (David) & Chalmers (David) - The PhilPapers Surveys: What Do Philosophers Believe?" has a question on Personal Identity, and it seems that only just under 17% of faculty at elite philosophy departments are even inclined towards animalism, with just under 6% being convinced. No recognised Animalist appears to have responded to the survey (or at least allowed their opinions to be published). I did, however, spot that my former supervisor – Jennifer Hornsby – claimed to be an animalist, though I don’t think she’s written anything on the subject.
  2. Organisms152
    1. Organisms feature highly in animalist discussions of personal identity, in that according to animalism153, human persons154 are (numerically identical155 to) human animals156, which are organisms.
    2. According to some philosophers – for instance Peter Van Inwagensorites157 and multiple-occupancy158 arguments yield that the only things that exist159 are simples and organisms.
    3. Organisms are to be distinguished from their bodies160, which have different persistence conditions161, for example post-mortem as corpses162.
    4. An organism seeks to maintain itself against its environment, and exchanges matter163 with it. An organism possesses none of its matter essentially164, and may indeed replace all – or at least most of165 – its matter many times during its life166.
    5. When organisms ultimately fail in the above endeavour, they die167.
    6. Prior to this, they are alive168; organisms are the only things that may properly be said to be alive – life is a biological process169. Other things may exist170, and come to an end, but they do not literally live171 or die172.
    7. Normally, a proper part of an organism is not an organism. Presumably organelles – such as mitochondria – are (parasitic) organisms living within, and – collectively if not individually – essential173 parts174 of, other organisms.
    8. In particular, a brain175 is not an organism, but an organ. We are organisms, not organs, whatever psychological TEs176 might imply, so we are not our brains. See my remarks on Brains177, BIVs178 and Brain Transplants179 for discussion of whether we could survive as180 our brains in a worst-case scenario and whether our brains are ‘just another organ’ as Olson181 claims.
    9. See "Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities" for a full discussion of the persistence182 of organisms, though this considers the generality. The book thinks that the general topic is too much swayed by considerations of large mammals, which – of course – is what we are, and the only organisms whose persistence conditions I care about in this research.
    1. Life183
      1. There are (at least) two sub-topics that fall under this topic:-
        1. Lives: Life as an (extended) event – the career of an individual.
          → See "Wollheim (Richard) - The Thread of Life"
        2. Life: Life as a biological process.
          → See "Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities"
      2. 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.
      3. Life – and its correlate, death184 – is a biological process, on which the word of the biologist (maybe as clarified by the philosopher) is final.
      4. I’m open to the idea that alternative biologies – other than the carbon-based exemplar ubiquitous on earth – are possible – or at least conceivable. So, anything sufficiently complex that “can extract energy from its environment, grow, repair damage to its body, and reproduce” is alive (Elliott Sober). We wouldn’t want to deny that aliens are alive, nor – just maybe – sufficiently complex machines of the far future.
      5. I have a question on the “reproductive” requirement above. At most, this must apply to “typical representatives” – else the infertile would not be alive. But – important though reproduction is for evolution185 – I’m not sure why this is essential. Note that computer hardware is unlikely to reproduce – or at least it’s not necessary that it should, as it can be manufactured. However, computer programmes would be able to – this seems to be claimed of AIs, who are hoped to be able to produce improved versions of themselves.
      6. What I object is the notion that computer programmes are – or will eventually be – “alive” in the same sense as organisms are alive, though their hosting computers might be.
      7. I say this by analogy with my thoughts on the supposed consciousness186 of computer programs: computer programs can’t be conscious, though the hardware that runs them might be. However, I’m not sure the analogy works, as the “living” is said to be at the program level, and not to involve any physical changes to the computer (other than the usual changes to the contents of memory locations).
      8. So, "Tegmark (Max) - Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence" has – as is indicated by the book’s title – three versions of life, but only Life 1.0 is ‘life’ in my sense; the others are – or impact on – ‘lives’:-
        1. Life 1.0: Biological Evolution187 – no hardware or software change within a lifetime.
        2. Life 2.0: Cultural Evolution188 – software, but not hardware, change within a lifetime. Learning.
        3. Life 3.0: Technological Evolution189 – potential for both software and hardware change within a lifetime.
      9. "Al-Khalili (Jim) & McFadden (Johnjoe) - Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology" has recently raised the question whether quantum phenomena190 are essential to life. This is not parallel with speculation on the association of quantum phenomena with Consciousness191 as it seems to be based on hard science – mechanisms – rather than ‘explaining’ one mystery with another.
      10. So, interesting philosophical questions about Life include:-
        1. Just what is (biological) life?
        2. When does biological life begin? This is presumably an empirical question, the answer to which will vary from species to species.
        3. Are there borderline cases of life?
        4. When does life cease? Again, the answer to this question will be species-dependent.
        5. Can life intermit192? Does it make sense to say that so-and-so died193 (on the operating table, say) and then revived?
      11. Interesting philosophical questions about Lives include:-
        1. How are lives individuated?
        2. What sort of things can have lives?
        3. How closely coupled is the life of a human organism194 with the life of a human person195?
        4. Can a life lived courtesy of a human organism be continued after the death196 of that organism?
      • Animation197
        1. “Animation” is an important matter. Just when does a particular life198 begin, and does it require any “vital force” or “infused soul199” (as the term implies)? Of course, the scientific answer to the latter question is that it doesn’t. However, such notions are central to many religious claims, though are not assumed by Christian Materialists200.
        2. We also need to consider:-
          1. Reanimation, and
          2. Suspended animation
        3. Both of these concepts are beloved of the Transhumanists201, at least those who are interested in the idea that their body202 or brain203 might be frozen until the time comes when it is possible for their reanimation.
        4. Suspended animation – in the form of cryoscopic suspension – appears as a TE204 in "Clark (Andy) & Kuhn (Robert Lawrence) - Aeon: Video - Andy Clark - Virtual immortality", to try to demonstrate that we are “patterns in information space205”.
      • Quantum Mechanics206
        1. Quantum Mechanics, per se, is very peripheral to my research concerns, but is connected – or alleged to be connected – to sub-topics that are slightly less peripheral.
        2. At a first guess, these include:-
          1. Consciousness207: either because – doubtfully – QM “explains” consciousness or – equally doubtfully, in my view – because “observers” are conscious and so consciousness is involved in the measuring process and the “collapse of the wave function”.
            • My view on the former has been that “explaining” one scarcely-understood phenomenon by another even-less-understood phenomenon has been a non-starter. Also, the mechanisms proposed have been very dubious.
            • My view on the latter is that the “observer” is any interfering macroscopic object, the record of which (eg. on a photographic plate) may or may not be viewed by a conscious observer, but has the record nonetheless.
          2. Life208: because QM may be involved – or necessary for – various life-processes and indeed the origin of life itself.
          3. Teletransportation209: Because of quantum entanglement.
          4. Transhumanism210: because of quantum computing and the impact this might have on superintelligence and AI generally.
        3. The Many Worlds Interpretation of QM is sometimes said to involve either a very profligate example of Fission211, or a spreading out of the “Quantum Self212” across all these worlds. This is discussed in "Ball (Philip) - Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Quantum Mechanics is ... Different", pp. 288-305, Chapter “There is no other ‘quantum’ you”.
    2. Plants213
      1. I’d never imagined having to say anything about Plants under the topic of Personal Identity. However, there appears to be a movement in biology and analytic philosophy to include plants in the category of organisms214 with minds215, on account of their ability to take advantage of their environment.
      2. I think this is absurd, and is simply changing the meaning of “mind216”.
    3. Evolution217
      1. One of the arguments for Animalism218, due to Stephan Blatti, is that from our evolutionary origins. If we’ve evolved from animals219, then it’s likely that’s what we are220. This requires careful consideration, because it would seem to provide the default view of what we are – but then so does common sense.
      2. Species evolve – both improving the characteristics of average exemplars of that species but also generating new species. So – prima facie – there’s no reason not to describe the emergence of human persons221 as “more of the same” from non-person hominids, ie. just tweaking their capacities – rather than as making an “ontological change” – as Baker222 argues.
      3. The persistence criteria223 for species also makes an interesting topic of research, as does deciding just what “species” are: for instance, are they concepts224 or universals225 or are they collections of concrete individuals226? Is the evolution of a new species a form of metamorphosis227?
      4. There will be some considerable overlap between this discussion and that on Homo Sapiens228.
      5. There’s also an overlap between speculations on the future of human evolution and Transhumanism229.
      6. Evolutionary Psychology has much to say (and much that is disputed) about what makes us tick – what makes us what we are230 in both a narrative231 and a metaphysical sense.
      7. There’s also the question of the evolution of consciousness232; when, why and how did it evolve?
      8. I might add a discussion of cultural evolution – see especially "Heyes (Cecilia M.) - Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking" – and how this has made us what we are233 by extending our cognitive capacities.
      • Origins234
        1. Our origins – just when “we” came into existence – are closely tied up with whatever “we” are235.
        2. So, an Animalist236 (who thinks that we are essentially animals237, rather than persons238, and for whom psychology239 is irrelevant to our identity) would insist that we come into existence earlier than would a supporter of the Psychological View240, or of the Constitution View241 (for whom a First-Person Perspective242 is definitive of our identity). Our psychology – and particularly a psychology rich enough to qualify us as persons243 – comes into existence fairly late on in our development.
        3. For modal244 reasons, endurantists245 can’t have “us” coming into existence before the possibility of twinning246 is past, though perdurantists247 don’t have this worry.
        4. I would also like to discuss Saul Kripke’s views on origins-essentialism.
          1. Metaphysically, I could not have been born other than from the particular egg-sperm combination from which I was born, and consequently
          2. Practically, I could not have been conceived other than at the time at which I was conceived.
        5. There are ethical ramifications in the context of abortion248 debates (and infanticide, for that matter), but I cannot pursue these in any detail.
      • Genetics249
        1. Genetics would seem to be a fairly peripheral topic as far as my thesis is concerned, though it is releveant insofar as some philosophers claim that we are identical to our genome, or that our genome is an essential Property250 of a Human Being251 (or any other Animal252 or Plant253 with a genome).
        2. As such, it has connections to What We Are254, our Origins255 and whether or not we are Information256.
  3. Animals257
    1. According to the Animalists258, human animals are what we are259. Some philosophers, eg. Baker260, seem to think that describing us as animals is demeaning, but this seems to muddle together all the varieties of animal into one bestial bunch. Clearly, there are lots of differences between lug-worms and the great apes, and further – but much less significant – differences between the non-human great apes and ourselves.
    2. Several points need to be made here.
      1. Firstly, what all animals have in common is that they are organisms261 and have common persistence-conditions262 (PCs) in virtue of this fact; in particular, our psychology263 – however important to us264 – is irrelevant to our persistence265, and hence, to our identity.
      2. Secondly, the contentious point is whether aspects of the psychology266 of some higher animals are so distinctive that (as Baker claims) an ontological267 difference beyond the mere existence of a new species is in evidence. Baker thinks the watershed is a First Person Perspective268.
      3. Leading on from this is the claim that the FPP269 is so important, that we are not animals, but persons270.
    3. A question to consider, probably under the topic of organisms271, is whether the PCs of all organisms are the same. Plants272 and animals are both organisms.
    4. Non-animalists raise issues about the presumed supreme moral status and cognitive abilities of human beings273. Demonstrating that these abilities – however well or badly exemplified by humans as a species or as individuals – are on a continuum with those of the higher animals – in particular the great apes – rather than unique in kind to human beings – requires the researcher into personal identity to investigate just what the cognitive and moral capacities of animals actually are. This study is stimulated by Locke’s274 claim that personhood275 is a forensic property276.
    1. Animal Rights277
      1. The motivation for including this topic – which is in its primarily ethical aspect largely tangential to my Thesis (which focuses on metaphysics) – is at least fivefold:-
        1. Firstly, as Locke noted, personal identity is a forensic278 matter.
        2. As I’m inclined towards animalism279, the status of other animals is relevant – in particular in resisting the claims of those (eg. Lynne Rudder Baker) that when a First Person Perspective280 comes into existence, we get a major ontological281 change.
        3. Some animal rights theorists – eg. Gary Francione – want to give (at least some) animals the legal and moral standing of persons282.
        4. Other contemporary philosophers – eg. Peter Carruthers – argue that animals have no rights at all.
        5. My view is somewhere in the middle. I’m not a fan of rights (in the absence of a contract), but think that human beings have duties to one another and to the higher animals in virtue of the others’ needs.
      2. A passage in the advertising blurb for "Calarco (Matthew) - Thinking Through Animals: Identity, Difference, Indistinction" is:-
        • The rapidly expanding field of critical animal studies now offers a myriad of theoretical and philosophical positions from which to choose.
        • It uses three rubrics — identity, difference, and indistinction — to differentiate three major paths of thought about animals.
          1. The identity approach aims to establish continuity among human beings and animals so as to grant animals equal access to the ethical and political community.
          2. The difference framework views the animal world as containing its own richly complex and differentiated modes of existence in order to allow for a more expansive ethical and political worldview.
          3. The indistinction approach argues that we should abandon the notion that humans are unique in order to explore new ways of conceiving human-animal relations.
        • Each approach is interrogated for its relative strengths and weaknesses, with specific emphasis placed on the kinds of transformational potential it contains.
  4. Arguments for Animalism283
    1. I’m not currently aware of many arguments in favour of Animalism284. Rather, Animalists argue that Animalism is – or ought to be – the default position, and try to pick off the arguments of those who have other positions on personal identity.
    2. The main argument – covered next - is Olson285’s Thinking Animal Argument286, which is both an argument for Animalism and intended as a refutation of the Constitution View287.
    3. However, there are others, and saying that ‘it’s just obvious’ that we are animals is insufficient, especially since most philosophers deny this ‘obvious’ fact.
    4. The only other argument I’m aware of (or can remember) is the “Animal Ancestors Argument” as given in "Blatti (Stephan) - A New Argument for Animalism", with an attempted rebuttal by "Gillett (Carl) - What you are and the evolution of organs, souls and superorganisms: a reply to Blatti".
    1. Thinking Animal Argument288
      1. This argument is otherwise known as the “too many minds” argument, the “too many thinkers” argument, or Olson289’s “master argument”. For many years, Olson has trotted out this argument at every opportunity.
      2. The basic idea is that a human animal290 thinks, and if it is not identical to the person291, then we have too many thinkers – the animal292 and the person293, unless we deny that one or other of them thinks, which is at the least very counter-intuitive.
      3. Additional to this metaphysical problem, we have – Olson says – an epistemological question. Which one are we? The animal or the person?
      4. While I’m inclined to accept animalism294, I think this argument fails, and it does the cause for animalism no good by having it as the main argument in its favour.
        1. This form of argument has been used by nihilists295 to argue that there are no ordinary things, usually invoking vagueness296 and fuzzy boundary considerations. Which of the many cats (give or take a few atoms) is the “real cat”? There’s no principled reason and I can’t know which. So there are no cats, or if there are, I can’t know which of the many cat-a-likes is the real cat. Since there are ordinary things, there must be something wrong with this argument form (though I don’t yet have a strong opinion as to just what it is). I accept Moore’s “two hands” argument – nothing is plainer than that I have two hands, so any metaphysical or epistemological theory that says I haven’t, or can’t know that I have, must have something wrong with it. I do know that there are arguments against the existence of hands and other “arbitrary undetached parts”, so maybe it’s safer to stick to cats. Olson (see "Marshall (Richard) & Olson (Eric) - Eric T. Olson: The Philosopher with No Hands"), as well as Peter Van Inwagen (eg. in "Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Doctrine of Arbitrary Undetached Parts"), argue against the existence of hands, though van Inwagen is happy with the existence of cats and other organisms, so I need to address their arguments head-on to determine the subtleties thereof.
        2. Baker297 and other supporters of the Constitution View298 have answers to the argument used as an argument against their view (along the lines of “thinking derivatively”).
        3. There are also resources like “Lewis counting”, as in perdurantism299 where a “soon to fission300” entity is really two entities sharing stages. Our language is fit for purpose.



Concluding Remarks
  1. Having discussed Animalism, we can now in our next Chapter301 turn to the main alternative I want to consider, the Constitution View and the arguments for it.
  2. This is work in progress302.


Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed303
  1. This section attempts to derive the readings lists automatically from those of the underlying Notes, but removing duplicated references. The list is divided into:-
  2. As this is a “core” chapter, the coverage of the literature will be very complete, if not exhaustive, when it comes to Animalism itself.
  3. For background topics, it will be more selective306.
  4. I’ve not been overly careful to segregate the reading-list of this Chapter from that of Chapter 8307. I will address the segregation in due course. There will, in any case, be some overlap.
  5. Many aspects of these papers will need to be either ignored or reserved for other chapters.



Works on this topic that I’ve actually read308, include the following:-
  1. Animalism
    1. Animalism309
    2. Human Animals315
    3. Biological View319
    4. Biological Criterion324
    5. Animalists
  2. Organisms
    1. Organisms352
    2. Life
    3. Plants357
    4. Evolution358
  3. Animals
    1. Animals367
    2. Animal Rights368
  4. Arguments for Animalism
    1. Arguments for Animalism372
    2. Thinking Animal Argument374


A further reading list might start with:-
  1. Animalism
    1. Animalism379
    2. Human Animals380
    3. Biological View382
    4. Biological Criterion384
    5. Animalists
  2. Organisms
    1. Organisms391
    2. Life
    3. Plants397
    4. Evolution398
  3. Animals
    1. Animals401
    2. Animal Rights403
  4. Arguments for Animalism
    1. Arguments for Animalism404
    2. Thinking Animal Argument405



In-Page Footnotes:

Footnote 4: Footnote 33: Footnote 135:
  1. The evidence for this – by way of self-confession – is in "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Materialism and the Psychological-continuity Account of Personal Identity".
Footnote 165:
  1. See "Frisen (Jonas), Etc. - Retrospective Birth Dating of Cells in Humans" for the argument that cerebral grey-matter retains its carbon atoms from infancy, and hence that neurons are as old as the individual. However, other cells are replaced – sometimes frequently.
Footnote 303: Footnote 306: Footnote 311: Footnotes 317, 326, 339: Footnotes 321, 337: Footnote 322: Footnotes 323, 327: Footnote 329: Footnote 342: Footnote 346: Footnote 348: Footnote 351: Footnote 362: Footnote 363: Footnote 369: Footnote 370: Footnote 371: Footnote 378: Footnote 383: Footnote 386: Footnote 388: Footnote 389: Footnote 393: Footnote 394: Footnote 402:


Table of the Previous 12 Versions of this Note: (of 13)

Date Length Title
11/05/2022 18:59:02 100551 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
07/05/2022 19:12:00 84259 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
11/04/2022 00:01:26 50315 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
01/10/2021 13:17:46 48245 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
29/03/2021 19:23:31 21893 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
22/03/2021 00:28:48 17313 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
08/02/2021 13:16:19 6946 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
18/04/2019 18:18:43 6920 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
05/04/2016 23:19:41 6673 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
13/01/2015 19:07:41 6617 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
06/11/2014 10:13:26 6463 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
02/10/2014 17:12:29 6172 Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)



Note last updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
28/09/2022 10:24:58 None available Thesis - Introduction


Summary of Notes Referenced by This Note

Abortion Animal Rights Animalism Animalism - Arguments For Animalism - Objections
Animalists Animals Animation Awaiting Attention (Personal Identity) Baker
Baker - Persons and Bodies - Precis Baker - Persons and Bodies - Response to Olson Baker - The Human Animal: Response to Olson Baker - The Importance Of Being a Person Baker - What Am I?
Biological Criterion Biological View Body Body Criterion Brain
Brain State Transfer Brain Transplants Brains in Vats Brandom - Toward a Normative Pragmatics (Introduction) Christian Materialism
Concepts Consciousness Constitution View Constitution View - Objections Continuity
Corpses Criteria of Identity Death DeGrazia - Are We Essentially Persons? Duplication
Endurantism Essentialism Evolution Existence Fetuses
First-Person Perspective Fission Forensic Property Functionalism Genetics
Homo Sapiens Human Animals Human Beings Human Persons Individual
Information Intermittent Objects Interregnum Jen_080218 (Olson) Jen_080303 (Olson, Baillie)
Jen_080317 (Baker) Kinds Le Fanu - Doubts About Darwin Life Life After Death
Locke Markosian - The Human Animal: Three Problems for Olson Matter Mereology Metamorphosis
Mind Modality Narrative Identity Natural Kinds Nihilism
Non-Human Persons Numerical Identity Olson Olson - Immanent Causation and Life After Death Olson - Personal Identity - Oxford Bibliographies Online
Olson - Persons and Bodies - Response Olson - Review of 'Persons: Human and Divine' Olson - The Human Animal (Precis) Olson - The Human Animal: Reply to Baker Olson - The Human Animal: Reply to Markosian
Olson - The Human Animal: Reply to Zimmerman Olson - What Are We? Ontology Organisms Origins
Perdurantism Persistence Persistence Criteria Persistent Vegetative State Person
Phase Sortals Physicalism Plants Problem of the Many Process Metaphysics
Properties Psychological Criterion Psychological View Psychology Quantum Mechanics
Reincarnation Resurrection Self Snowdon - The Self and Personal Identity Sorites
Sortals Souls Status: Thesis Dashboard (2022: November) Sterelny & Griffiths - From Sociobiology to Evolutionary Psychology Substance
Survival Teletransportation Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It) Thesis - Chapter 07 (The Constitution View and Arguments for It) Thesis - Chapter 08 (Arguments against Animalism)
Thesis - Chapter 09 (Arguments against the Constitution View) Thesis - Method & Form Thinking Animal Argument Thought Experiments Transhumanism
Twinning Universals Uploading Vagueness What are We?
What Matters Wiggins Williams - The Self and the Future Works Read - Explanation Zimmerman - The Human Animal: Objections

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Summary of Notes Citing This Note

Intuition Origins PID Note, Book & Paper Usage, 2 Status: Thesis Dashboard (2022: November), 2 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?), 2, 3
Thesis - Chapter 05 (Persistence and Time) Thesis - Chapter 08 (Arguments against Animalism), 2 Thesis - Chapter 09 (Arguments against the Constitution View), 2 Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments) Thesis - Introduction
Thinking Animal Argument Website Generator Documentation - Functors, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23      

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Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note

Author Title Medium Extra Links Read?
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 02 (What Are We?) Paper Medium Quality Abstract 2, 3 Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 05 (Persistence and Time) Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 08 (Arguments against Animalism) Paper Medium Quality Abstract 2 Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 09 (Arguments against the Constitution View) Paper Medium Quality Abstract 2 Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments) Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Introduction & Chapter Outlines Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Intuition Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Origins Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Thinking Animal Argument Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes



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Claxton (Guy) Intelligence in the Flesh: Why Your Mind Needs Your Body Much More Than it Thinks Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Claxton (Guy) - Intelligence in the Flesh: Why Your Mind Needs Your Body Much More Than it Thinks 18%
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Collins (Francis) The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief Book - Cited High Quality Abstract Collins (Francis) - The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief Yes
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Dawkins (Richard) The Ancestor's Tale Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Dawkins (Richard) - The Ancestor's Tale No
Dawkins (Richard) The Blind Watchmaker Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Dawkins (Richard) - The Blind Watchmaker Yes
Dawkins (Richard) The Extended Phenotype Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Dawkins (Richard) - The Extended Phenotype No
Dawkins (Richard) The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Dawkins (Richard) - The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution 1%
Dawkins (Richard) The Selfish Gene Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Dawkins (Richard) - The Selfish Gene Yes
de Muynck (Willem M.) Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, an Empiricist Approach Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract de Muynck (Willem M.) - Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, an Empiricist Approach No
De Waal (Frans) Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract De Waal (Frans) - Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature 1%
De Waal (Frans) Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract De Waal (Frans) - Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved 1%
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DeGrazia (David) Are we essentially persons? Olson, Baker, and a reply Paper - Cited Low Quality Abstract Philosophical Forum; Winter2002, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p101, 20p Yes
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Farmelo (Graham) The Strangest Man: The Life of Paul Dirac Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Farmelo (Graham) - The Strangest Man: The Life of Paul Dirac Yes
Fetzer (James) The Evolution of Intelligence: Are Humans the Only Animals with Minds? Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Fetzer (James) - The Evolution of Intelligence: Are Humans the Only Animals with Minds? 3%
Feynman (Richard), Leighton (Robert B.) & Sands (Matthew) The Feynman Lectures on Physics - Vol III Book - Cited Feynman (Richard), Leighton (Robert B.) & Sands (Matthew) - The Feynman Lectures on Physics - Vol III No
French (Steven) & Krause (Décio) Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract French (Steven) & Krause (Décio) - Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis 3%
Frisen (Jonas), Etc. Retrospective Birth Dating of Cells in Humans Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Cell, Vol. 122, 133–143, July 15, 2005 Yes
Frossard (Philippe) The Lottery of Life: The New Genetics and the Future of Mankind Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Frossard (Philippe) - The Lottery of Life: The New Genetics and the Future of Mankind No
Gallagher (Shaun) & Shear (Jonathan), Eds. Models of the Self Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Low Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied 2%
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Garrett (Brian) Personal Identity and Self-consciousness Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Medium Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied Yes
Garrett (Brian) Some Thoughts on Animalism Paper - Cited Low Quality Abstract Petrus - On Human Persons, 2003 Yes
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Harden (Kathryn Paige) The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Harden (Kathryn Paige) - The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality Yes
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