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Personal Identity

Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)

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

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Abstract




Research Methodology


Chapter Introduction3
  1. This Chapter has a plethora of supporting Notes discussing the sort of thing that I think we are NOT. Like the preceding Chapter, this one could run and run, so can only provide a superficial summary.
  2. Discussion of our being Persons4 is reserved for Chapter 35, the next Chapter.
  3. Discussion of our being Organisms6, specifically Human Animals7, is reserved for Chapter 68.
  4. The first obvious candidate for What We Are9 is Human Beings10, but this is – or has become – a rather obscure term of art in philosophy, not that it’s any clearer in general parlance, where it can mean many things that have their carefully demarcated terms in philosophy.
  5. It was once an up-and-coming idea, in reaction to the Psychological View, that we might be Bodies11, but with has been replaced by Animalism. The Body Criterion12, despite having the advantage of Bodily Continuity13, is more difficult to define than the persistence of Organisms14.
  6. No-one would think that we are Brains15 unless forced into that corner by various Thought Experiments and this leads on to the further possibility that we might be individual Cerebra16. Nevertheless, the Brain Criterion17 should be taken seriously, particularly as the criterion of Brain Death18 for our demise seems to at least incline towards the view that that is what we really are. I’ve got my Note on Brains in Vats19 in this section, as it covers a number of cases including that we might be living in a Computer-Simulated world.
  7. I need to address the concept of a Soul20 as souls were once the major counter-claim to the persisting entity being an animal; or at least popularly so. However – scientific objections aside – the Soul Criterion21 is difficult to make out.
  8. Then, there’s the suggestion that we might be Selves22. This is a highly complex topic, with lots of associated Notes, which might be segregated in three groups:-
    1. Candidates for what the self might be – the I23, or Cartesian Ego24. The latter leads on to Dualism25 (though both the latter might be better covered under Souls26).
    2. The connection of the Self with Narrative Identity27; the sort of thing people mean when they say Bloggs is not the same person as he used to be. Because the concept of Race28 is so topical, I’m including a discussion in this section.
    3. The reason people think they might be Selves is because they are Self-Conscious29 (ie. conscious of being selves, rather than being shy). Thinking about this requires brief forays into Consciousness30 studies, including Supervenience31, Functionalism32 and philosophical Zombies33.
  9. An intuition I do not share is that we might be “Patterns in Information Space34”. This is the sort of intuition that Transhumanists have, and will be considered in detail in Chapter 10.
  10. There are Bundle Theories35, at one time espoused by Hume36, which seem to put the cart before the horse, in saying that we are nothing but bundles of “perceptions”, when – it seems to me – these “perceptions” have to be had by something, and this something – whatever it might be – is what we are.
  11. There may be Hybrid Theories37 which try to get the best bits out of more than one of the main-line theories, usually in response to awkward TEs or unusual circumstances.
  12. Finally, there are Nihilists38 who pretend to deny that we exist at all, or at least – as Buddhists39 committed in the interim to Reincarnation – claim that our aim should be not to exist.



Note Hierarchy
  1. What are We?40
  2. Candidates for what we are, considered in later Chapters
    1. Human Animals41. Excluded42
    2. Organisms43. Excluded44
    3. Persons45. Excluded46
  3. Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter
    1. Human Beings47
    2. Bodies48
    3. Brains51
    4. Souls56
    5. Selves58
    6. Patterns in Information Space69
    7. Bundle Theories70
    8. Hybrid Theories72
    9. Nihilism73



Main Text: What are We?
  1. What are We?75
    1. This Chapter has the title “What Are We?”. The use of the plural is significant, as we will see in the course of this Thesis when we consider the social and reciprocal aspects of what it is to be a person. However, the determination of “we” as “the sort of entity likely to be reading this paper” isn’t quite right, even though Dennett and others use similar expressions.
    2. “We” implies a reciprocal relationship. We find others (of “our” sort) intelligible, and it is important that they find us intelligible in return. Does this thereby make R = “finds intelligible” an equivalence relation, dividing the world into equivalence classes of mutually intelligible individuals, or does R come in degrees and fall prey to Sorites paradoxes76?
    3. Nonetheless, should we not start with the singular, maybe even solipsist, question “What Am I?”, and expand out from there into the collective question? How we phrase our initial question has an impact on the course of our investigations, and may reflect our deepest presuppositions. The first-person question adopts the Cartesian stance of looking from the inside out, whereas the third-person question considers “us” collectively. The first-person question may presuppose that the answer to the question is that I am primarily a psychological being, whereas the third-person question may assume or expect the answer that I am fundamentally physical.
    4. Some of the potential answers to the question will be the same whether we phrase the question in the singular or the plural.
    5. Taking it in the plural for now, we need to distinguish, as candidates for what we might be on the physical side, (prefixing “human-” passim):-
      1. Animals77,
      2. Organisms78,
      3. Bodies79,
      4. Beings80 and
      5. Brains81.
    6. On the psychological side, I might be a Self82 or, more popularly, a Person83. I might even be a non-essentially-embodied entity like a Soul84.
    7. I will consider all these options in due course; with the exception of a detailed discussion of the concept PERSON (which is reserved for the Chapter 385), I will do so later in this chapter.
    8. Olson86 also considers whether we might be Humean bundles87 of mental states and events, and even the nihilist88 view that we don’t exist at all. While I won’t have space for a detailed discussion of all of these possibilities, we need to remain aware of the possibilities and motivations for these positions.
    9. However, for the moment I want to consider some themes connecting the possible answers to our question. Firstly, does there have to be a single answer? I know that I, and presume that my readers also, fall happily under the concepts HUMAN ANIMAL, HUMAN ORGANISM and HUMAN BEING. I at least have a human body and a human brain, though I would initially feel reluctant to say that I am one of either of these things. I would certainly claim to be a SELF, and also a PERSON, as no doubt would my reader. So, cannot all these answers be correct?
    10. This raises the question of what I mean by saying what I am (or we are) something. In saying that I am any of these things, what sort of relation is the “am”? Am I using am in the sense of an identity relation, a constitution relation, ascribing a predicate, or have some other sense in mind?
    11. There are two kinds of questions I want to ask.
      1. Firstly, what sort of being am I identical to?
      2. Secondly, what sort of properties do I have; both metaphysically essential properties (those without which I would cease to exist), and those I merely consider essential (that is, “very important”, though I would continue to exist without them)?
    12. Any “is” that does duty for the identity relation inherits the formal properties of an equivalence relation; in particular, it is a transitive relation. Additionally, the “two” identical entities either side of the copula must satisfy Leibniz’s law; “they” share (at a time) all their properties; actual and modal, intrinsic and relational. So, if I am identical to a human animal, and also identical to a human person, then that human animal must be identical to that human person. This would mean that these “two” entities are really one. They co-exist at all times in all possible worlds where either of “them” exists, and share all their properties and relations, at any time and world. Everything that happens to “one” at a world and time happens to the “other” at those coordinates. This places strong logical constraints on how much cake I can have and eat. I may want to say that I am identical both to a human animal, and to a human person, yet claim that a human person has certain mental properties essentially, but deny that a human animal does. However, I am then claiming what is logically impossible, at least for the classical logic of identity89 that denies that such notions as relative identity are coherent. As we will see, this point is essential to the animalist case that we are not identical to human persons (given the claim that we are identical to human animals).
    13. My thesis addresses the topic of personal identity, but we might claim that what we’re really interested in is in our identity. Not that we have doubts as individuals as to which particular individual we are (as though I, as Bill Clinton, don’t know whether I am Bill Clinton or George W. Bush), but what sort of individual we are, together with worries about our persistence (how long we are going to last, and in what form). Historically, it has been a standard presupposition that what we are most fundamentally is persons, or at least that’s all we care about. So, concern about our identity has been elided with concern for personal identity, almost as though we thought that the two questions are the same. Animalists argue that the two questions are indeed different, but for convenience, and the historical continuity of the general topic under discussion, still say they are talking about personal identity.
  2. Candidates for what we are, considered in later Chapters
    1. Human Animals90: It is my contention that we are identical to human animals, and this view is discussed in detail in Chapter 691.
    2. Organisms92: This view is a variant of (or component of) the above, and is covered in the same chapter.
    3. Persons93: That we are Persons is the mainstream view, both in philosophy and in common sense. I discuss what Persons are supposed to be, and evaluate the view that that is what we are, in Chapter 394.
  3. Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter
    1. Human Beings95
      1. At first sight, it seems both obvious and uninformative to claim that we are human beings. However, things are not that simple.
      2. Firstly, is there is a difference – real or formal – between human beings and
        1. Human animals96,
        2. Members of the species homo sapiens97 and
        3. Human organisms98?
      3. I assume there’s a distinction between a human being and a human person99, as “person100” is an honorific and – I claim – human persons are phase sortals101 of human animals.
      4. For the primary argument proposing that “we” are human beings, see the work of Mark Johnston.
      5. Johnston’s view is that human beings are constituted by102 human bodies103. I have two comments on this:-
        1. This superficially sounds like Baker104’s Constitution View105. However, Johnston doesn’t think the human person is separable from the human brain/body as in the case of Baker’s reified FPP106.
        2. Despite this, Johnston doesn’t think that we are (identical to) human animals.
      6. Johnston tries to tread a middle course between animalism107 and the psychological view108.
        1. He wants to be a naturalist – accepting the modern scientific world-picture and rejecting dualism109.
        2. However, because he thinks that what matters110 to us is our mental life, he considers us to be a locus of mental life.
        3. But, this locus is not “inchoate” or “bare” but has to be provided by our organ of mentation – namely the brain111.
        4. Where he differs from the animalists112 is in his response to the brain transplant intuition113 (BTI).
      7. So, for Johnston, a human being is – for usual practical purposes – a human organism, but is only “constituted” by one – it is not identical to one, for two reasons:-
        1. He – along with most people – accepts the BTI, so he thinks you can be “pared down” to a “mere brain” and then transplanted into another human body. That human being would then be you. Also, like Olson114, he doesn’t think “mere brains” are organisms115; but – unlike Olson – he doesn’t consider the human brain to be “just another organ”.
        2. Further, he thinks a human being is necessarily capable of appropriate mental activity. So, in the case of you falling into a PVS116, you – the human being – could be outlived by your human animal.
      8. Thus – for Johnston – “human being” is a rather odd concept: it is a locus of mentation, naturally embodied and not portable other than by transplanting the organ of mentation. The brain isn’t a mere organ, but – if transplanted or a BIV117 – a maximally mutilated human being.
      9. At the moment, I still incline towards animalism – that we are human animals; and that we can survive total and irrevocable loss of mentation, though in the process we also lose all that matters to us.
      10. Also, I think that there’s only a difference of emphasis or terminology between “human being”, “human animal” and “human organism”.
      11. This (probably) commits me to arguing that a disembodied human brain is a maximally-mutilated human animal.
    2. Bodies118
      1. The idea that we might be human bodies is a rather outdated and tentative reaction to the once (and maybe still) predominant view amongst philosophers that we are basically psychological beings.
      2. The "physical continuity119" view of personal identity is a wider view of PID than the Bodily Continuity120 view as it encompasses either the body or the brain121, with the latter being more important, so that the physical continuity is satisfied by a BIV122, which would thereby continue your existence should you end up in that unhappy state.
      3. Somatic continuity is underplayed by philosophers who (while engaged in philosophy) focus more on mental predicates than would those less intellectually-inclined. This is pointed out by Feminist philosophers. For instance, …
      4. See "James (Susan) - Feminism in Philosophy of Mind: The Question of Personal Identity" and her objections to Bernard Williams’s and Anthony Quinton’s hasty avoidance of the somatic aspects of “body swapping123” – ie. where very different bodies are involved, especially of different sexes; also, the depersonalising effects of trauma.
      5. However, there may be confusion here between two meanings of “what matters124”. Of course, it matters to the ballet dancer or heavyweight boxer that they are appropriately embodied, but this is beside the point as far as personal identity (in the logical125 sense) is concerned. It matters to me if I lose a leg, but I’m still the same person if I do (because I continue to have the same first-person perspective126 – it’s me that cares that I’ve lost my leg).
      6. That’s why the “Future Great Pain Test127” ("Unger (Peter) - Identity, Consciousness and Value" / "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future") is so useful – it focuses the mind on whether it will be me that survives128, even in the sad cases where I’d prefer it if it wasn’t.
      7. Despite the above comments, and while focus on the body (that is, the brain) is an improvement on focus on the mind (considered as psychology abstracted from its physical enabler), focus on “the body” has been superseded in philosophical popularity by animalism129 and a focus on the organism130.
      • Bodily Continuity131
        1. Historically, philosophers have been divided into those that hold that our132 persistence criteria 133 are fundamentally psychological134,135 and those that think they are fundamentally physical136.
        2. The classic paper that wrestles with this dilemma is "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future".
        3. Bernard Williams is sometimes thought of as an Animalist137, possibly because138 he’s inclined to accept the Bodily Continuity (as against the Psychological Continuity 139) approach to Personal Identity. But, this is probably a mistake, because:-
          1. The “Bodily Continuity” view of personal identity is not to be confused with Animalism140, which requires the Biological View 141. The Bodily Continuity view is consistent with my persisting as a Cyborg142 or even an Android143. See also144 Siliconisation145.
          2. Also, the persistence conditions 146 of bodies147 differ from those of organisms148 in general or human animals149 in particular. Consider the arguments about corpses150, which gives rise to the “Corpse Problem”, an attempted refutation of animalism 151.
        4. Lynne Rudder Baker consistently contrasts her Constitution View152 with that of a bodily view, rather than a biological view. She considers that we persons153 are constituted154 (maybe temporarily) by our bodies155.
        5. Eric Olson distinguishes between organisms156 and bodies, and is doubtful about the existence of the latter157. But he would disagree with Baker even if she claimed that we were constituted by human animals.
        6. Note also, the distinction158 between continuity159 and connectedness. Continuity is critical to the persistence of bodies, but it is doubtful whether connectedness is. You could probably replace all the parts of a body over time, provided this is done gradually enough, and retain the same body (this is certainly true of organisms). However, it is said by some (eg. Parfit160) that a psychology disconnected from, though continuous with, another is not the same person. See his discussion of Methuselah161.
        7. It seems to me that both the biological view and the bodily continuity view would (theoretically, at least) allow for metamorphosis162 (provided, in the former case, that the metamorphosis163 is into another organism). There are, however, sortal164 objections to metamorphosis165.
      • Body Criterion166
        1. The ‘body criterion’ of personal identity claims that we can determine that the human person persists through time just in case the same human body persists, irrespective of its mental properties.
        2. What it is that makes a body – in this case a human body – continue the same body over time?
        3. I need to do some further research in this area, but it is not important as – while considering ‘bodies’ as the bearers of human identity was a step in the right direction – it has been superseded by the treatment of human beings as living bodies, namely Organisms167, for which the Biological Criterion168 is more relevant.
        4. Were I to continue research in this area, I would consider:-
          1. Bodies as “lumps of matter”
          2. Mereological169 matters – such as mereological essentialism – as far as they apply to bodies.
        5. One of the troubling170 areas for animalism171 – the corpse problem – arises from the denial that I am identical to my “corpse to be”, and that when I die, a new item – my corpse172 – which is not identical to my pre-mortem body (which was an organism) because it has different persistence conditions173. This sudden popping into existence seems counter-intuitive – but otherwise there seem to be two items co-located pre-mortem – the organism and the body. Eric Olsongets round the problem by denying the existence of “bodies” – but this isn’t very intuitive either.
    3. Brains174
      1. There is a view that we are175 really, most fundamentally, our brains. It seems to promise some good things for both the “psychological criterion176” and “bodily criterion177” camps, since the brain is indeed part of the body178, and, in the absence of a soul179, the source of all our psychological functions. However, we seem to be much more than our brains. After all, who would want to be a Brain in a Vat (BIV180)? According to Johnston (see "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings"), BIVs are “maximally mutilated” human beings; which seems to be along the right lines. Note the important distinction between your surviving in a maximally mutilated state (as a brain) and you “really” being your brain.
      2. This is an issue Animalism181 has to contend with - whether a BIV is an animal. Paul Snowdon claims182 that no-one seems to think this, a view that Olson shares but on which he may be open to objection. He says that an animal with a prosthetic leg is a smaller animal with something non-animal attached. If this is admitted, don’t we end up with a sorites183 argument, that a BIV is a (very much) smaller animal; though not, I think, with any paradox?
      3. The big question is whether an animal’s brain is just another organ (like its liver) or whether it has some other status. That it is somehow special can be presupposed if we start conceptually with the brain as the core from which other parts are shaved off. Whether this is the right approach depends, I think, on what the brain does for the animal, and where the animal is on the phylogenetic tree. The brain is a much more important organ in some animals than others; in some lower animals it has no psychological functions and (maybe) its regulatory functions aren’t essential184.
      4. Why is Woody Allen’s expostulation (in Sleeper) that his brain “(is his) second favourite organ” amusing? Firstly, of course, because of the sexual innuendo and the ultimately strange prioritisation (since you can’t enjoy sexual excitement without a brain), but also, I think, because your brain isn’t an organ that you “have”. Without your brain, there’s no “you” at all, or at least this is a strong intuition.
      5. You can obviously (given even today’s technology), do without a liver, and it seems that on a life-support machine your body can do without its brain – where the brain is looked upon merely as a regulator. But the reference of “you185” is a bit slippery in these contexts. There is a sense in which you as an organism can do without a brain – on life support – but “you” as an essentially psychological being cannot. The animalists claim that you – being identical to an animal – have no essential psychological predicates; yet it is difficult to resist the intuition that there’s a reference of “you” that does have essential psychological predicates. This is to you as a person186 – but the big question is whether this person is a separate substance constituted by187 the human animal, or is just a way of describing the animal when possessed of the appropriate psychological predicates. Saying that you can’t do without your brain is just another way of saying that your psychological predicates are those most important to you (the animal); those without which the other predicates cannot be enjoyed.
      6. The issue fundamentally concerns the integrity of organisms188. It is said that a brain isn’t an organism; but does an organism have to be self-supporting (the main reason for denying the status of organisms to disembodied brains)? After all, we seem to be allowing that an organism on life support is correctly described as an organism. We’ll discuss this further in its place (ie. under organisms189).
      7. These issues are especially important when we consider various Thought Experiments190, in particular Brain Transplants191. Transplantation192 of all sorts seems to involve fusion193, with its logical problems for identity194 (not just for persons).
      • Brain Criterion195
        1. The question is whether the brain is the be-all and end-all of the matter of personal identity for human persons196.
        2. This view seems to be presupposed by those ethicists who espouse the (whole or part) brain death197 criterion for death198. There will be some overlap between this note and that on brain death.
        3. It is acknowledged by most that – conceptually at least – there can be persons199 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 such200). 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 soul201) and as the regulator of the body.
        4. So, the story would go, X is the same person as Y iff202 X has the same brain as Y.
        5. 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 view203, 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 fission204, where – after equalising the hemispheres in psychological potency, we transplant205 one into another body lacking both hemispheres. Or, without needing anything so radical, we sever the corpus callosum in a commissurotomy206, thereby (on this view) creating two persons in one body.
        6. However, if we are animalists207,208 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 might209 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 matters210”). It is an empirical question whether the brain-stem can be divided, and hence whether a brain-based animalist approach is also subject to worries211 about fission.
        7. Anyway, the appropriateness of the Brain criterion of personal identity depends on what we are212– in particular whether we are (most fundamentally, or in the sense of numerical identity213, which is not the same thing) human animals or persons constituted by214 them (or various other things).
        8. Only if we believe that we are (identical to) brains215 will we adopt the brain criterion (though see Mark Johnston on Human Beings216).
      • Brain Death217
        1. Brain death is – strictly speaking – just the death of the brain – or, strictly speaking, the death of the brain-stem. See NHS: Brain Death and Wikipedia: Brain Death. Without a functioning brain-stem the human animal cannot survive without life-support, as the brain-stem regulates breathing and heartbeat (amongst much else); nor can the patient ever regain consciousness.
        2. Brain death is important in personal identity as it is often considered the point at which the animal – despite the best efforts of life-support systems – is “really” dead.
        3. There are different understandings of just when brain death occurs, and – indeed – on what it is. See, for example, the Wikipedia article above, which correctly distinguishes brain death (total failure of the brainstem) from a PVS218.
        4. On the Brain View219 of Personal Identity, the death of the brain220 – consistently defined – is obviously the death of the person221 – that is if persons, qua persons, are the sort of thing that can die, as death is a biological event. Maybe more strictly, on the Brain View, brain death would be our death.
        5. The same is probably true of Mark Johnston’s view that we are Human Beings222.
        6. Brain death is important legally and ethically as it is used to decide when it is right to withdraw life support. It is said that the human being is already dead when the brain is dead. I don’t really want to get drawn into this ethical argument. As previously noted, without the regulating power of the brain the organism is already dead, so – on the animalist223 view – we are therefore dead. We don’t therefore exist in this state, whereas in a PVS we do exist, but don’t have anything that matters224 to us.
        7. See "Kaufman (Sharon) - Neither person nor cadaver" and comments thereon for various other issues, which will be included here in due course.
      • Brains in Vats225
        1. There are three variants that I want to consider:-
          1. The traditional disembodied brain in a vat of nutrients, connected to the world by input sensory and output motor devices.
          2. The Matrix-case, where the “vat” is a living human body, but where we have the same exchange of sensory and motor messages with a computer. I have a real body226, but not the one I think I have.
          3. The simulation case (which depends on Functionalism227 for any plausibility whatever), whereby I am living in a computer simulation. I am a computer program.
        2. I’m not sure how well-motivated these supposed possibilities are for an explanation of what we are228. Within the context of my research project, I’ve no interest in the sceptical use of these TEs229, but there may be other uses.
        3. "Bostrom (Nick) - Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?" (2003) argues that it is highly probable that we are computer simulations (Case ‘c’ above). See also the altercation below:-
          "Weatherson (Brian) - Are You a Sim?" (2003), and
          "Bostrom (Nick) - The Simulation Argument: Reply to Weatherson" (2005).
        4. While the claim that we are computer programs is often made by futurologists, it doesn’t make sense to me.
          1. Computer programs are universals. I am a particular.
          2. What I am230 – in the sense intended here – is a particular implementation of a computer program “running” on a particular piece of hardware.
          3. So, I would be a particular partition of a particular piece of hardware, configured in an appropriate way.
        5. "Chalmers (David) - The Matrix as Metaphysics" (2005) seems to take the possibility of our being brains in vats (in the traditional Case ‘a’ sense) more seriously than might have been expected. However, I think his interest is purely in rebutting the sceptical conclusions of traditional epistemology. He thinks that if we were BIVs, we’d still know what we claim to know, because our words would have meanings appropriate to our envatted status.
          → See "Lloyd (Peter) - A Review of David Chalmers' essay 'The Matrix as Metaphysics'", 2008, for an attempted refutation.
      • Cerebra231
        1. The cerebrum is the centre for the higher cognitive capacities of the brain232, and hence of human and other animal233 psychology234.
        2. It is (or they are) one option for the choice of “what we are235” on the part of those who hold the Psychological View236 of personal identity.
        3. The two cerebral hemispheres are joined by the commissures, and commissurotomy237 is a favourite TE238, being an alleged case – suitably elaborated – of the fission239 of the person240; which again (allegedly) shows the non-identity of the human person241 and his animal242.
        4. There is some slackness in the literature where (whole) brain transplants243 and (double) cerebrum transplants are not distinguished, and where half-brain transplants (whatever these might be in practice) and single-cerebrum transplants are confused.
    4. Souls244
      1. I had thought that Souls had been consigned to the dustbin of history, with only die-hards like Richard Swinburne still believing in them, but Eric Olson, while he doesn’t believe in souls, has an entire Chapter of "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology" taken up with the possibility that this is what we are. So, I presume it must still be a live issue.
      2. I have work to do in this area: here I ought to discuss what souls are (supposed to be), and what problems the concept encounters, while under the head of the Soul Criterion245 I should focus on how souls (are supposed to) help with the problem of personal identity, and what problems they encounter in the attempt.
      3. Some of the ground is also covered under the head of Dualism246 and the Cartesian Ego247, which take the soul to be an immaterial mental substance. This has the drawback of the soul having a difficult relationship with the body it is supposed to control – how do the two substances interact? Additionally, there would seem to be a gap between immaterial substances and the findings of modern science, which has no place for them.
      4. There are other alternatives, stemming from Aristotle, where the soul is the Form of the body, which makes it what it is. But as such, it seems to be both mysterious and superfluous.
      • Soul Criterion248
        1. So, how do souls249 help with the problem of personal identity? Depending on what we take souls250 to be, they – if they are indistructable immaterial substances, say – may help with problems associated with post-mortem survival and identification (assuming there is any such thing).
        2. Otherwise, some favourite TEs251 are impossible – fission252, say, if souls are indivisible. Teletransportation253 would presumably be impossible, as a soulless being would be assembled at the other end of the “journey”. Unless the soul is the form of the body, that is.
        3. While Lynne Rudder Baker wasn’t a dualist254, the FPP255 – individuating Persons256, as it does – performs the same role as the Soul.
    5. Selves257
      1. The Self is important, as it’s the root of Baker’s FPP258, and the motivator for all psychological259 theories of PI, so understanding just what it is supposed to be is central to my concerns.
      2. The self is what the reflexive pronouns refer to, but this doesn’t get us far, though it does mean that we are260 Selves, though not fundamentally so. We human animals261 might persist even if we ceased to be selves.
      3. So, just what is a self?
      4. There’s a temptation to equate the Self with the Person262, but this is to waste a term, and it is likely that the two terms can come apart263.
      5. Nor is it just the personality264, though the reification of the personality is probably at the root of the (misguided) intuition that personal identity is broken if the individual suffers a too-radical change of personality.
      6. It’s not clear to me that SELF is a natural kind265 concept, so there may not be just one correct definition.
      7. But my use will equate a self to an individual with a perspective on the world which – if that individual were a person (as many selves are) – would equal a FPP.
      8. In "Seth (Anil Kumar) - The real problem", Anil Seth distinguishes five selves (or aspects of the self, considered as “a complex construction generated by the brain”):-
        1. The bodily self266, which is the experience of being a body and of having a particular body.
        2. The perspectival self267, which is the experience of perceiving the world from a particular first-person point of view.
        3. The volitional self268 involves experiences of intention and of agency – of urges to do this or that, and of being the causes of things that happen.
        4. The narrative self269 is where the ‘I’ comes in, as the experience of being a continuous and distinctive person over time, built from a rich set of autobiographical memories.
        5. And the social self270 is that aspect of self-experience that is refracted through the perceived minds of others, shaped by our unique social milieu.
      9. Not all individuals towards which we might adopt Daniel Dennett’s Intentional Stance are selves.
      10. While thermometers are excluded, I’m not sure whether having “a sense of self” is essential for being a self. So, creatures that pass the Mirror Test271 will be Selves, though might not all be persons, but others – human infants, gorillas, elephants, dogs – might be selves even where they fail the test.
      • I272
        1. What is the reference of “I”, and does this linguistic usage and convention has any bearing on the metaphysics of Personal Identity in general or Post Mortem Survival273 in particular.
        2. Naturally, I doubt that it does, but there are arguments to the contrary.
        3. This topic is not to be confused with Notes on Selves274 or Cartesian Egos275 and maybe others.
        4. It is also not really related to the question What We Are276, though the reference of “I” will be to that being.
        5. My starting-off point here is "Zimmerman (Dean) - Personal Identity and the Survival of Death", Section 4, and another important source is David Kaplan, though I don’t seem to have many relevant papers yet.
        6. Further research is required.
        1. Cartesian Ego277
          1. That we are Cartesian Egos has been a popular suggestion in answer to the question of what we are278. It is presumably what those who first supported the Psychological View279 of personal identity had in mind, but may not be what the majority of philosophers these days – most of whom continue to hold some form of the PV – accept.
          2. Cartesian Egos are robustly criticised these days, but I’ve not been able to find any paper on JSTOR that has the term in its title. Maybe the papers I’ve read have defined it, but I’ve forgotten the precise definition. Anyway, I assume that the Ego is the “I” that Descartes thought that introspection revealed. Presumably it is also supposed to be an immaterial substance, which is what Descartes thought he – a “thinking thing” – was.
          3. There is some overlap with Lynne Rudder Baker’s focus on a First-Person perspective280. Just what is it that’s supposed to look out on the world if not a Cartesian Ego? But Baker is not a dualist281 (at least not in the Cartesian282 sense) – she thinks of us as belonging to the PERSON283 substantial284 kind285, presently constituted by286 a human body287. The person does not have separate existence to the human body, in the way in which the Cartesian Ego does – which is (allegedly) separable from the body (and capable of living in disembodied288 form). I think for Baker we are essentially embodied – just not by289 the same body.
          4. With respect to the Cartesian Ego, we need to consider just how psychologically unified human persons290 are, and whether or not the mind is formally modular. In particular, is there massive modularity, or is there an executive? And is it the executive that is the Cartesian Ego?
          5. In this connection, I must consider psychological accounts of modularity291 of mind from the identity perspective, rather than straying too far into philosophy of mind and psychology. This will feature mainly in discussion of objections to Animalism292.
        2. Dualism293
          1. Dualism is unfashionable these days, which makes it a temptation to ignore. However, well-known contemporary dualists include:-
            David Chalmers (probably),
            Richard Swinburne, and
            Dean Zimmerman.
          2. Time was when all Christians were dualists, but now there is a sub-group of Christian Materialists294. Here’s a skirmish between Lynne Rudder Baker and Dean Zimmerman, starting with "Zimmerman (Dean) - Christians Should Affirm Mind-Body Dualism".
          3. My primary text ought to be "Swinburne (Richard) - Personal Identity: The Dualist Theory", though it’s maybe a bit dated.
          4. Dualism is important because if mind-body substance dualism is true, then animalism295 is false.
          5. The argument might go – from “Sunday school dualism” – that if we have souls, then we can’t be animals, as animals don’t have souls. But, dualism is really only claiming that the mental cannot be reduced to the physical. But if this is true of human beings – whatever they are – then it is true of human animals, and all animals+N30N+ with minds. So, the topic might be orthogonal to animalism – the claim that we are animals.
          6. That said, there is a tradition of treating dualism as more sympathetic to the psychological view296 of personal identity, that our persistence conditions are mental, which animalism claims to be irrelevant to our identity.
          7. Also, if dualism is false, I will argue that resurrection297 or reincarnation298 is impossible. Well, resurrection of (sufficient of) a corpse would be metaphysically possible, but following the total destruction of the body, there is nothing to carry the identity of the individual.
          8. If dualism is true, the possibility of teletransportation299 is even less likely than would be the case were materialism300 true. How would the immaterial soul make it to the new location and be re-united with its reconstituted or newly-constituted body?
      • Narrative Identity301
        1. Narrative identity isn’t really an account of numerical identity302, but is dependent on it. It is analogous to the Psychological View303, but is closer to what most non-philosophers usually mean by a person’s “identity”. Saying someone is “no longer the same person” in this context implies such a change in personality304 that their life no longer fits into a single narrative.
        2. I noticed in Aeon: Jaarsma - Choose your own birth that Simone de Beauvoir – in Pyrrhus and Cineas – states that “I am not a thing, but a project”. This claim may connect Narrative Identity to Existentialism. De Beauvoir’s contrast is rather a stark claim. But it highlights the difference between those who think of persons305 as concrete particulars of whatever form and those who think of them as a process306 of some sort.
        3. In brief307, Narrative identity addresses questions of ‘who we really are’ (which is distinct from the generic question What Are We308) and gives an account of the individual’s ‘true self’ and which characteristics truly belong to it. It provides a self-told story with a kind of psychological unity309, coherence and intelligibility. To be a person310 and a true moral agent311 (it is said), one’s experiences and life events need to be gathered together into the life312 of one’s narrative ego. This gives the various experiences and events their meaning by putting them in context. This helps explain my special self-concern, as being for the whole space-time worm313 rather than one time-slice being concerned for a future time slice (as in exdurantism314, I believe). So, what makes an action truly mine – and one for which I’m morally accountable – is that it flows from my core values in such a coherent narrative.
        4. There are clearly objections to all this. Such a narrative – to be a single narrative – needs to be the experience of a single persisting entity, and so is dependent on numerical identity. It also seems to be a rather too convenient way of getting out of responsibility for our ‘out of character’ actions. In any case, our ‘true character’ is revealed by – and develops through – our actions.
        5. If narrative identity depends on numerical identity315, then it is just as subject to fission problems316, as is no-doubt revealed in cases of MPD317.
        1. Race318
          1. The topic of Race has a rather tenuous connection to my Thesis as a sub-topic of Narrative Identity319 given how important racial identity is to some people (maybe to all, but tacitly so for the dominant race in a society320).
          2. There seems to be some disagreement about whether “races” actually exist. See Aeon – Hochman – Is ‘race’ modern?321.
          3. Of late, Race has been overtaken by one aspect – the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Clearly, this is important, but it does seem to suggest that race and racism only apply to “Blacks”, and that the major issue historically was slavery. However, until the 17th and 18th centuries slavery had nothing to do with “colour” as slaves had been taken from conquered peoples of any ethnicity. There’s a useful little BBC page on ancient philosophers’ misguided views on slavery: BBC - Ancient philosophers justifying slavery.
      • Self-Consciousness322
        1. Self-consciousness is more than just phenomenal consciousness323 (which may be a watershed in itself with moral consequences greater than are generally accepted) but the consciousness of oneself as a self324 (as Locke325 noted).
        2. But we need also consider the view that this “watcher” is an illusion, a falsely-assumed Cartesian Ego326 whose existence is undermined by neuroscience, the modularity of mind, and such-like.
        3. I was alerted to a quotation from "Updike (John) - Self-Consciousness":-
            Not only are selves conditional but they die. Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?
        4. I think this idea is muddled in several respects:-
          1. Death327 is a biological event that – at least in the ordinary case – can happen to an organism only once.
          2. So, whatever Selves328 are, they don’t die every night. Follow the links for further discussion.
          3. We do indeed “wake slightly altered”; indeed, we alter slightly whenever we encounter an event that has an impact on us.
          4. I’m not sure what Updike means by our “selves” being “conditional”, but I can well believe it.
          5. Updike seems to subscribe to some “strict and philosophical329” view of identity, whereby nothing survives change. This is not a useful understanding.
          6. Any comfort we might get from such thoughts concerning our inevitable deaths is entirely spurious.
        1. Consciousness330
          1. Conscious mental phenomena are central to any account of what persons331 are. However, we must note that in the philosophy of personal identity, a saltation is usually diagnosed between the phenomenal consciousness of the higher (and probably many lower) animals332, and self consciousness333 (ie. awareness of self334), usually assumed335 to be the preserve of human beings336 only.
          2. Lynne Rudder Baker alleges an ontological change (an ontological novelty) when beings with a First Person Perspective337 come on the scene. I think first-person perspective338 is the same as a consciousness of self, though I suspect that if the non-human great apes are found to have the latter, she would allege the ontological novelty occurs with the arrival of the former, taken to be a more profound awareness.
          3. Personally, I think the real ontological novelty arises with the emergence of phenomenally conscious beings, and that consciousness of self is a culturally-acquired phenomenon (though – despite the Buddhist attempt to eradicate it – a universal one). But even so, the ontological novelty is that of the beings which have this property, not the property itself.
        2. Functionalism339
          1. Functionalism is a thesis in the philosophy of mind – originally in contrast to the then alternatives of behaviorism and the identity theory – to the effect that “mental states are identified by what they do rather than by what they are made of” (see "Polger (Thomas) - Functionalism").
          2. However, it has been co-opted by Sydney Shoemaker to support the cause of the Psychological View340 of PID.
          3. Consequently, I’ve listed in the reading list below the two papers Shoemaker cites as central to his thesis
          4. Shoemaker is a materialist341 as far as the mind-body problem is concerned (at least in contrast with Swinburne’s soul view). But, this does not carry over into PID, either as the physical342 view or animalism343.
          5. I am highly suspicious of Functionalism as it applies to consciousness344, though it is a difficult question. If consciousness should turn out to be a quantum phenomenon based in the brain, then Functionalism would be proved false empirically. People have always been suspicious of a network of baked-bean tins wired up isomorphically to neurons being conscious (but then this would be too simplistic a model).
          6. I think that according phenomenal consciousness to other mammals is best motivated by their similar neural structures, even though the fact that they look and behave as though they are conscious would be sufficient for a prudential attribution. This is because we could (as a thought experiment345, at least) build robots that behaved like conscious beings yet we knew (from their architecture) that they weren’t.
          7. This case is put under pressure by very complex computers or by aliens who might have very different physiology.
          8. Any possibility of ‘uploading346’ a person to a computer depends on Functionalism for any plausibility whatever.
        3. Supervenience347
          1. To quote from "McLaughlin (Brian) & Bennett (Karen) - Supervenience", “A set of properties A supervenes upon another set B just in case no two things can differ with respect to A-properties without also differing with respect to their B-properties. In slogan form, “there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference”.
          2. So – the classic example is of the mind supervening on the brain (mental properties on physical properties of the brain) – there can be no change of mental properties without a corresponding change of brain-states.
          3. Humean supervenience348: "is the assumption that all truths about our world will supervene on the class of physical truths in the following sense: There are no truths in any compartment of our world that cannot be accounted for in terms of differences and similarities among those properties and external space-time relations that are fundamental to our world according to physical science."
          4. Apart as a rebuttal of dualism349, I’m interested in Supervenience because it is related to questions of Constitution350 and multiple-occupancy351. It is also claimed as an objection352 to Eric Olson’s Thinking Animal Argument353.
        4. Zombies354
          1. In analytic philosophy, ‘Zombie’ is a term of art for the supposed possibility that individuals might exist with exactly the same
            → physical structure and
            → behaviour
            as human persons, but without phenomenal consciousness – with “no-one at home”, in other words.
          2. It is addressed in "Kripke (Saul) - Naming and Necessity: Lecture III", and is a bug-bear of David Papineau – eg. in the latter part of "Papineau (David) - The Importance of Philosophical Intuition".
          3. The most important claim is the first – that beings of the same physical structure as ourselves might lack consciousness. Accepting it seems to beg the question against materialism355. If materialism356 is true, then zombies are impossible – on the assumption that we are conscious357.
          4. The second claim – that androids (say) might behave like us but lack consciousness is readily believed by all those not in thrall to a strong version of Strong AI and the Turing Test.
          5. This doesn’t mean that “zombies” don’t have minds, or that they blunder about as in the horror movies – they would appear completely like us. It’s just that there’s nothing it is like to be a zombie. Or so it is supposed. It may be that this is in fact impossible.
          6. What has all this got to do with Personal Identity? Some immediate thoughts:-
            1. There would seem to be no impact on animalism358, which discounts the importance of the mental for our persistence.
            2. The constitution view359 might equally be unperturbed. This depends on whether zombies have a FPP360. As noted, they have a mind, and presumably intentionality – a window on the world. But I suspect therre needs to be something it’s like to have a FPP361.
            3. Consciousness is often said to be something essential to being a person362.
    6. Patterns in Information Space363
      1. Andy Clark is particularly keen on this sort of idea, claiming that we are364 “patterns in information space”.
      2. Variants on this theme that immediately come to mind include:-
        1. The transhumanists365 seem to assume that we are information, in that some of them imagine and hope that we366 will one day be able to be uploaded367 to a computer and dwell therein.
        2. The primary variants of Teletransportation368 assume that we can be converted to information, beamed up to our destination and reconstituted as the very same individual.
        3. Brain State Transfers369 are another variant on this theme.
      3. I don’t go along with any of this, adopting the animalist370 approach that we are essentially organisms371 essentially embodied in the one body372 we will ever have.
      4. I should remark that Richard Dawkins claims that Life373 is information (as distinct from “protoplasm” in that DNA is information, and living organisms exist to perpetuate their genes, as he says in "Dawkins (Richard) - The Blind Watchmaker" and elsewhere). While this is an important idea, and contains much truth, I don’t think it has the right emphasis, though it’s all a bit “chicken and egg”.
    7. Bundle Theories374
      1. If "Olson (Eric) - What Are We? Bundles" is anything to go by, Bundle theories are still a live option.
      2. My initial intuition is that they are – if I understand them correctly – too absurd to demand much attention, in that they put the cart before the horse. Rather than attend to substances375 as the bearers of properties376 that may qualify their bearers as persons377, Bundle theories focus on collections of perceptions and thoughts to constitute378 minds379 and sensations to constitute bodies380 – or variations on such themes.
      3. The classic statement is that of Hume381, though there’s some doubt as to whether Hume actually used the term.
      • Hume382
        1. Hume’s “Bundle Theory” of personal identity is – as even Hume seemed to agree – hopeless, and I have no intention of becoming a Hume scholar with the intention of extracting some goodness out of it.
        2. Nor, for that matter, do I intend to weigh in to deciding whether Hume did or not use that expression for his theory.
    8. Hybrid Theories383
      1. In the philosophy of personal identity, I’d like the term “Hybrid Theory” to apply to (to put things somewhat pejoratively) “cake and eat it theories” where you’re faced with an awkward choice between two inconsistent theories, but want – in certain circumstances – to choose the best parts of each. In other words, we might in general want to follow one theory, but in certain awkward cases, be willing – or even strongly inclined – to follow the other.
      2. My own temptation is to espouse animalism384 but also give a high regard to the First Person Perspective385 so that – if this FPP386 is maintained throughout some adventure – it trumps whatever animalism has to say. This applies particularly to Brain Transplants387, though there are ways out of this conundrum other than adopting a Hybrid theory or simply denying the “brain transplant intuition”.
      3. "Keles (Serap) - Personal identity and persistence over time : the hybrid view with regard to hylomorphism", a PhD Thesis, looks important in attempting to bring together Animalism388 and the Constitution View389 as a hybrid theory in the context of Hylomorphism390.
      4. "Ferner (Adam) - Metaphysics and biology: a critique of David Wiggins’ account of personal identity", another PhD Thesis, contains the claim that David Wiggins held to a Hybrid theory with respect to personal identity. To quote from p. 91:-
          Yet while Wiggins takes these features as indicators that ‘person’ is akin to a natural kind word, he is cautious of giving it the full status of such terms, like rabbit, ivy, butterfly, and (putatively) human being. Rather, he suggests that we see ‘person’ as something like a qualification of a natural kind determinable, a ‘hybrid concept’ with a natural kind element and a systemic element as well (alike to how ‘vegetable’ collects together a group of savoury, edible plant kinds).
      5. The only other material I have that propose or discuss a Hybrid Theory of Personal Identity are:-
        "Snowdon (Paul) - Persons, Animals, and Bodies" (Section 7),
        "Hodson (Sommer) - A Hybrid View of Personal Identity", a PhD Thesis, and
        "Kotak (Aakash) - The Hybrid Theory of Personal Identity", an MPhil Thesis.
    9. Nihilism391
      1. Otherwise known as Eliminitivism, Nihilism is the view that there are no persons or – more alarmingly – that we don’t exist.
      2. Whether what is eliminated is the same in all cases must await detailed examination.
        1. Peter Unger – at least at one time392 – argued (rather improbably) that:-
        2. Eric Olson:
        3. Peter Van Inwagen: thinks that all that exists are organisms and simples. See:-
          "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Extreme Answers to the Special Composition Question: Nihilism and Universalism" (1990)
          This is no threat to the elimination of persons, of course.
        4. "Merricks (Trenton) - Objects and Persons" (2001); in particular:-
          "Merricks (Trenton) - Surviving Eliminativism", and
          "Merricks (Trenton) - Considerations in Favour of Eliminating Us?"
          Merricks thinks that we – and other organisms – exist, but that statues don’t. Again, this is no threat to the existence of persons.
      3. One reason for considering this topic is that lots of the arguments – sorites-style393, or “too many occupants” – occur throughout the topic of personal identity. If they are unsound here, they may be so elsewhere.
      4. In particular, it’ll be interesting to compare Olson’s argument that he has no hands with his “thinking animal394” argument. He seems committed to both.
      • Buddhism395
        1. Buddhist teachings are relevant in at least two ways to the philosophy of personal identity:-
          1. The rejection of the importance of the Self396. There are some connections to Parfit’s397 ideas.
          2. The insistence on Reincarnation398.
        2. 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 as:-
          1. Overly idealistic and
          2. Ignoring 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).
        3. Those philosophers who take a "psychological view399" of our persistence conditions400 – 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 reincarnation401. Those who are thoroughgoing materialists402 (like me) can't. I’m sure the Dalai Lama403 is a very nice man, but his position and authority depends on him being a reincarnation404 of someone else, which isn’t likely to be true.
        4. However, I think this may be a misrepresentation, for if Buddhists take the soul view405 of our identity, then the very same soul may be reincarnated406 – ie. given a new body. This is despite the possessor of that soul – in a previous life – being a different human being407 (or, indeed, not a human being at all).
        5. Where Buddhism differs from Hinduism with regard to the benefits of reincarnation is that for Buddhists reincarnation is never a benefit in itself, because the idea is to achieve nirvana by escaping the cycle of rebirth. For Hindus, the benefit depends on Karma – if it is good, then you go up the ladder, else down.



Concluding Remarks
  1. In our next Chapter408, we consider just what a Person is.
  2. This is work in progress409.


Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed410
  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. For this Chapter I have already worked on various papers or book chapters under supervisory control. Where this is the case, for ease of reference, the analytical Note for each reference is hyperlinked directly.
  3. Additionally, I may need to consider other papers or book chapters in the following lists (together with some others referenced by these). There are doubtless many more that are relevant but which will be addressed later in the course of the thesis, but these are probably sufficient to get us going. Some that I have considered have been culled or reserved for later.
  4. The reading lists have grown absurdly long since the number of sub-topics has ballooned, and it will be impossible to address them all, or even most of them. But having them all linked in is a potential benefit (both to me and to other researchers).
  5. In particular, the list on Selves is very long, and contains many whole books. I may have to cull several of these further down the line. However, the Self is important, as it’s the root of Baker’s FPP413, and the motivator for all psychological theories of PI, so understanding just what it is supposed to be is central to my concerns.
  6. The comment about the prolixity of the reading list applies even more to Souls than to Selves, without the positive connection to my primary thesis. However, if we were to be souls, this would solve the resurrection problem; so I need thoroughly to understand the reasons why we might be – but most likely are not – souls.
  7. Many aspects of these papers will need to be left for later chapters.



Works on this topic that I’ve actually read414, include the following:-
  1. What are We?415
  2. Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter
    1. Human Beings434
    2. Bodies
    3. Brains
    4. Souls
    5. Selves
    6. Patterns in Information Space485
    7. Bundle Theories
    8. Hybrid Theories495
    9. Nihilism


A further reading list might start with:-
  1. What are We?500
  2. Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter
    1. Human Beings509
    2. Bodies
    3. Brains
    4. Souls
    5. Selves
    6. Patterns in Information Space546
    7. Bundle Theories
    8. Hybrid Theories551
    9. Nihilism



In-Page Footnotes:

Footnote 3: Footnotes 42, 44: Footnote 46: Footnote 86: In "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology"

Footnote 138: According to most interpreters

Footnote 144:
  1. Though the Note on Siliconisation focuses on the replacement of neural organic matter by silicon, the general idea could (more easily, as the technology is already partly there) be extended to the replacement of other body parts.
Footnote 157:
  1. This is to get round the “Corpse Problem” noted previously.
Footnote 182:
  1. Where? I need to check this out.
Footnote 184:
  1. I need to check this.
  2. The idea is that in some lower animals, regulation is distributed throughout the body, with the brain playing a less central role.
  3. This is true of the octopus – a highly intelligent animal – with many neurones distributed throughout its tentacles.
  4. The same is also true (though to a lesser extent) of human animals – the PNS undertakes various co-ordinating functions, which is why brain-transplant TEs are somewhat simplistic.
  5. However, maybe I need to distinguish between different neural functions – regulation, coordination, sensation, etc.
Footnote 200:
  1. Hasn’t someone said this? Who? Wiggins?
  2. This is not to be confused with there being no criteria for identity – ie. for the relation itself – which is due to Merricks (eg. in "Merricks (Trenton) - There Are No Criteria For Identity Over Time").
Footnote 202:
  1. 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 209:
  1. 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 211:
  1. These worries about fission are essentially set to rest by adopting a perdurantist account of persistence.
  2. But, some consider the costs (mainly semantic, I think) of adopting this approach are too great.
Footnote 263:
  1. There is no unanimity on what a person is; but it will be worth taking candidate definitions and see whether we would be willing to assign selfhood to some non-persons.
Footnote 266:
  1. We are referred to "Seth (Anil Kumar) - Interoceptive inference, emotion, and the embodied self".
Footnote 267:
  1. We are referred to "Ehrsson (H. Henrik) - The Experimental Induction of Out-of-Body Experiences".
Footnote 268:
  1. We are referred to "Haggard (Patrick) - Human volition: towards a neuroscience of will".
Footnote 270:
  1. We are referred to "Frith (Christopher D.) & Frith (Uta) - Mechanisms of Social Cognition".
Footnote 271:
  1. For a recent discussion of this test, and what it does or doesn’t have to say about a sense of self, see "Morell (Virginia) - What do mirror tests test?".
  2. This paper quotes a large number of others that give the history of the test, and which other animals have been said to pass it.
  3. The view of Frans De Waal, and of the paper’s author, is that – whatever the Mirror Test may demonstrate – all animals need a self-concept. This seems like common-sense.
  4. It’s also suggested that evolutionary considerations imply a gradualist – rather than binary – approach to self-conception.
Footnote 282:
  1. See her "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Christians Should Reject Mind-Body Dualism".
Footnote 289:
  1. Or, rather than “embodied by”, “embodied “as”?
Footnote 291:
  1. For Modularity of Mind, see especially "Fodor (Jerry) - The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology".
Footnote 307:
  1. I am greatly indebted to "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Ethics", section 2.3 (SEP: Personal Identity and Ethics - The Narrative View) here.
  2. However, the perdurantist / exdurantist terminology is mine; this contentious metaphysics may not be strictly necessary.
Footnote 335:
  1. Of course, this is disputed – and I agree with the objections.
  2. Animals that pass the mirror test are usually assumed to have at least a rudimentary sense of self.
  3. See "Desmond (Adrian) - The Ape's Reflexion".
Footnote 348:
  1. Quotation from the cover blurb of "Preyer (Gerhard) & Siebelt (Frank) - Reality and Humean Supervenience: Essays on the Philosophy of David Lewis".
Footnote 357:
  1. This relates the the problem of other minds.
  2. See "Avramides (Anita) - Other Minds".
Footnote 392: See the introduction to "Unger (Peter) - The Mental Problems of the Many" (2004) for a recantation.

Footnote 403:
  1. See Wikipedia: Succession of the 14th Dalai Lama for a discussion of the succession from 14th to 15th Delai Lama.
Footnote 410: Footnote 417: Footnote 423: Footnote 425: Footnote 427: Footnote 429: Footnotes 431, 491: Footnote 446: Footnote 449: Footnote 452: Footnote 455: Footnote 467: Footnote 483: Footnote 486: Footnote 487: Footnote 499: Footnote 502: Footnote 504: Footnote 507: Footnote 510: Footnote 518: Footnotes 521, 523: Footnote 524: Footnotes 526, 544: Footnote 533: Footnote 535: Footnote 537: Footnote 538: Footnote 541: Footnote 542: Footnote 550:


Table of the Previous 12 Versions of this Note: (of 19)

Date Length Title
11/05/2022 18:59:02 138652 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
01/05/2022 18:20:10 126259 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
11/04/2022 00:01:26 109196 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
01/10/2021 13:17:46 68548 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
29/03/2021 19:23:31 35329 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
22/03/2021 00:28:48 20906 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
07/02/2021 21:38:53 15250 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
18/04/2019 18:18:43 15194 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
24/04/2018 00:12:58 14748 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
05/04/2016 23:19:41 14694 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
04/04/2015 00:17:17 14560 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
13/01/2015 19:07:41 14517 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)



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

Aeon Papers Androids Animalism Animalism - Objections Animalists
Animals Awaiting Attention (Personal Identity) Baillie - What Am I? Baker Baker - Persons and Bodies - Precis
Baker - Persons in the Material World Baker - The Coherence Of the Idea of Material Constitution Baker - The First-Person Perspective Baker - The Human Animal: Big-Tent Metaphysics Baker - The Human Animal: Response to Olson
Baker - What Am I? Biological Criterion Biological View Blackburn - Has Kant Refuted Parfit? Bodily Continuity
Body Body Criterion Brain Brain Criterion Brain Death
Brain State Transfer Brain Transplants Brains in Vats Brandom - Toward a Normative Pragmatics (Introduction) Buddhism
Bundle Theories Carter – Artifacts of Theseus Cartesian Ego Cerebrum Chisholm - Which Physical Thing Am I?
Christian Materialism Coincidence Commissurotomy Connectedness vs Continuity Consciousness
Constitution Constitution View Continuity Corpses Crane - The Conscious and the Unconscious
Crane - Zombies Curran - Facing America's History Of Racism Requires Facing The Origins Of 'Race' As A Concept Cyborgs Death DeGrazia - Are We Essentially Persons?
Disembodied Existence Doepke - What are We? Doepke - What We Are Dualism Exdurantism
First-Person Perspective Fission Forensic Property Functionalism Fusion
Future Great Pain Test Garrett - Persons and Bodies - Response Homo Sapiens Human Animals Human Beings
Human Persons Hume Hybrid Theories Hylomorphism I
Information Jen_080204 (Brandom, Chisholm, Baillie) Jen_080218 (Olson) Jen_080303 (Olson, Baillie) Jen_080317 (Baker)
Johnston - Human Beings Kinds Kripke - Naming and Necessity - Lecture III Kurtz - Persistence (Introduction) Life
Locke Logic of Identity Mereology Metamorphosis Methuselah
Mind Moore - Common Sense Moore - External World Moreland & Rae - Body & Soul: Introduction Multiple Personality Disorder
Narrative Identity Natural Kinds Nihilism Numerical Identity Olson
Olson - What Are We? Organisms Parfit Parfit - What We Believe Ourselves To Be Perdurantism
Persistence Criteria Persistent Vegetative State Person Personality Phase Sortals
Physical Continuity Physicalism Process Metaphysics Properties Psychological Continuity
Psychological Criterion Psychological View Psychology Race Reincarnation
Resurrection Searle - Minds, Brains, and Programs Self Self-Consciousness Siliconisation
Snowdon - The Self and Personal Identity Society Sorites Sortals Soul Criterion
Souls Status: Thesis Dashboard (2022: November) Substance Supervenience Survival
Swinburne - Personal Identity: The Dualist Theory Teletransportation Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?) Thesis - Chapter 03 (What is a Person?) Thesis - Chapter 06 (Animalism and Arguments for It)
Thesis - Method & Form Thinking Animal Argument Thought Experiments Transhumanism Transplants
Unity of the Person Uploading What are We? What Matters Wiggins
Williams - The Self and the Future Wilson - Descartes's Epistemological Argument for Mind-Body Distinctness Works Read - Explanation Zombies  

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Summary of Notes Citing This Note

Descartes Disembodied Existence Existence Jen_080204 (Brandom, Chisholm, Baillie), 2 Origins
PID Note, Book & Paper Usage, 2 Self Status: Personal Identity (Summary of Progress to Date) Status: Thesis Dashboard (2022: November), 2 Thesis - Chapter 01 (Introduction), 2
Thesis - Chapter 04 (Basic Metaphysical Issues) Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments) Thesis - Introduction 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, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 What are We?

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Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note

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Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 01 (Introduction) Paper Medium Quality Abstract 2 Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 04 (Basic Metaphysical Issues) Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
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Todman (Theo) Thesis - Descartes Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
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Todman (Theo) Thesis - Existence Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Introduction & Chapter Outlines Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Origins Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Self Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - What Are We? Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes



References & Reading List

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Aeon Video - Phrenology: the weirdest pseudoscience of them all? Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Aeon, 06 May 2021 Yes
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