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Personal Identity

Thesis - Outline

(Text as at 11/11/2007 13:00:29)


(For the live version and other versions of this Note, see the tables at the end)

I anticipate my thesis having the following chapters:

  1. Introduction1
  2. What are We2?
  3. What is a Person3?
  4. Souls4, Substances5, Sortals6,7 and Natural Kinds8.
  5. Animalism9 and Arguments for it.
  6. The Constitution10 View and Arguments for it.
  7. Arguments against11 Animalism.
  8. Arguments against12 the Constitution View
  9. Perdurantism13 versus Endurantism14
  10. Thought Experiments15.
  11. Resurrection16.
  12. Conclusion17
For convenience, brief abstracts (as currently intended) of the above chapters are given below. I have included hyperlinks in the above list to my initial thoughts on these topics (and to reading lists and plans for further research) by way of further clarification. I’ve also included links from the “Thought Experiment” abstract below, for the same reason. The reading lists are rather full, and I’ll need to whittle them down to those I actually intend to read (and, better, address).

Chapter abstracts
  1. Introduction: Something like this document, but in narrative form, maybe including a brief historical general survey of Personal Identity.
  2. What are We? : The topic “personal identity” has historically presupposed that we are (in the sense of “identical to”, or “most fundamentally”) persons, whereas I (along with other animalists) claim that we are identical to human animals. “We” being the sort of entity likely to be reading this paper. 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. Souls, Substances, Sortals and Natural Kinds: 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 souls as they 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. Animalism and Arguments for it: Focusing on Olson’s account.
  6. The Constitution View and Arguments for it: Focusing on Lynne Rudder Baker’s account.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. Perdurantism versus Endurantism: 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.
  10. Thought Experiments: Any account of personal identity needs to give an account of what is going 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 whole exercise is one of 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:
  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, 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 (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;
    • that we are human animals,
    • that human persons are phase sortals of human animals and that substance dualism is false,
    • that the person is inseparable from the animal,
    • that the animal is utterly destroyed at death, and
    • consequently (given the sort of thing we are) that resurrection or any other post-mortem survival is impossible for us.

Live Version of this Archived Note

Date Length Title
05/07/2023 21:27:22 9100 Thesis - Introduction

Table of the 9 Later Versions of this Note

Date Length Title
28/09/2022 10:24:58 9100 Thesis - Introduction
22/03/2021 00:28:48 9070 Thesis - Introduction
18/04/2019 18:18:43 7045 Thesis - Introduction
24/04/2018 00:12:58 6309 Thesis - Outline
05/04/2016 23:19:41 6291 Thesis - Outline
02/10/2014 17:12:29 6232 Thesis - Outline
22/07/2014 22:23:31 6167 Thesis - Outline
18/12/2010 19:58:05 5817 Thesis - Outline
26/11/2007 23:25:26 5819 Thesis - Outline

This version updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
11/11/2007 13:00:29 None available Research - Proposal

Summary of Notes Links from this Page

Animalism Animalism - Objections Brain Brain State Transfer Commissurotomy
Constitution View Constitution View - Objections Fission Four Dimensionalism Fusion
Multiple Personality Disorder Natural Kinds Perdurance vs Endurance Person Phase Sortals
Replication Resurrection Siliconisation Sortals Souls
Substance Teletransportation Thesis - Outline - Conclusion Thesis - Outline - Introduction Thought Experiments
What are We?        

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above (if any).

Summary of Note Links to this Page

Jen_071112 Status: Personal Identity (2007-October), 2      

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above (if any).

Text Colour Conventions

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023

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