Theo Todman's Web Page - Notes Pages

Personal Identity

Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)

(Work In Progress: output at 01/06/2024 05:34:04)

Colour ConventionsPrevious VersionsNote ReferencesNon-Note ReferencesNote CitationsNon-Note Citations

Chapter Contents

  1. Abstract1
  2. Methodology2
  3. Introduction3
  4. Note Hierarchy4
  5. Main Text5
  6. Concluding Remarks6
  7. Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed7
  8. Works Read8
  9. Further Reading9
  10. References & Reading List


Research Methodology

Chapter Introduction12
  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 Persons13 is reserved for Chapter 314, the next Chapter.
  3. Discussion of our being Organisms15, specifically Human Animals16, is reserved for Chapter 617.
  4. The first obvious candidate for What We Are18 is Human Beings19, 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 It was once an up-and-coming idea, in reaction to the Psychological View, that we might be Bodies20, but with has been replaced by Animalism. The Body Criterion21, despite having the advantage of Bodily Continuity22, is more difficult to define than the persistence of Organisms23.
  6. No-one would think that we are Brains24 unless forced into that corner by various Thought Experiments and this leads on to the further possibility that we might be individual Cerebra25. Nevertheless, the Brain Criterion26 should be taken seriously, particularly as the criterion of Brain Death27 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 Vats28 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 Soul29 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 Criterion30 is difficult to make out.
  8. Then, there’s the suggestion that we might be Selves31. 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 I32, or Cartesian Ego33. The latter leads on to Dualism34 (though both the latter might be better covered under Souls35).
    2. The connection of the Self with Narrative Identity36; the sort of thing people mean when they say Bloggs is not the same person as he used to be. Because the concept of Race37 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-Conscious38 (ie. conscious of being selves, rather than being shy). Thinking about this requires brief forays into Consciousness39 studies, including Supervenience40, Functionalism41 and philosophical Zombies42.
  9. An intuition I do not share is that we might be “Patterns in Information Space43”. This is the sort of intuition that Transhumanists have, and will be considered in detail in Chapter 10.
  10. There are Bundle Theories44, at one time espoused by Hume45, 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 Theories46 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 Nihilists47 who pretend to deny that we exist at all, or at least – as Buddhists48 committed in the interim to Reincarnation – claim that our aim should be not to exist.

Note Hierarchy
  1. What are We?49
  2. Candidates for what we are, considered in later Chapters
    1. Human Animals50. Excluded51
    2. Organisms52. Excluded53
    3. Persons54. Excluded55
  3. Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter
    1. Human Beings56
    2. Bodies57
    3. Brains60
    4. Souls65
    5. Selves67
    6. Patterns in Information Space78
    7. Bundle Theories79
    8. Hybrid Theories81
    9. Nihilism82

Main Text: What are We?
  1. What are We?84
    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 paradoxes85?
    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. Animals86,
      2. Organisms87,
      3. Bodies88,
      4. Beings89 and
      5. Brains90.
    6. On the psychological side, I might be a Self91 or, more popularly, a Person92. I might even be a non-essentially-embodied entity like a Soul93.
    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 394), I will do so later in this chapter.
    8. Olson95 also considers whether we might be Humean bundles96 of mental states and events, and even the nihilist97 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 identity98 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 Animals99: It is my contention that we are identical to human animals, and this view is discussed in detail in Chapter 6100.
    2. Organisms101: This view is a variant of (or component of) the above, and is covered in the same chapter.
    3. Persons102: 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 3103.
  3. Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter
    1. Human Beings104
      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 animals105,
        2. Members of the species homo sapiens106 and
        3. Human organisms107?
      3. I assume there’s a distinction between a human being and a human person108, as “person109” is an honorific and – I claim – human persons are phase sortals110 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 by111 human bodies112. I have two comments on this:-
        1. This superficially sounds like Baker113’s Constitution View114. However, Johnston doesn’t think the human person is separable from the human brain/body as in the case of Baker’s reified FPP115.
        2. Despite this, Johnston doesn’t think that we are (identical to) human animals.
      6. Johnston tries to tread a middle course between animalism116 and the psychological view117.
        1. He wants to be a naturalist – accepting the modern scientific world-picture and rejecting dualism118.
        2. However, because he thinks that what matters119 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 brain120.
        4. Where he differs from the animalists121 is in his response to the brain transplant intuition122 (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 Olson123, he doesn’t think “mere brains” are organisms124; 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 PVS125, 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 BIV126 – 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. Bodies127
      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 continuity128" view of personal identity is a wider view of PID than the Bodily Continuity129 view as it encompasses either the body or the brain130, with the latter being more important, so that the physical continuity is satisfied by a BIV131, 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 swapping132” – 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 matters133”. 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 logical134 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 perspective135 – it’s me that cares that I’ve lost my leg).
      6. That’s why the “Future Great Pain Test136” ("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 survives137, 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 animalism138 and a focus on the organism139.
      • Bodily Continuity140
        1. Historically, philosophers have been divided into those that hold that our141 persistence criteria 142 are fundamentally psychological143,144 and those that think they are fundamentally physical145.
        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 Animalist146, possibly because147 he’s inclined to accept the Bodily Continuity (as against the Psychological Continuity 148) 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 Animalism149, which requires the Biological View 150. The Bodily Continuity view is consistent with my persisting as a Cyborg151 or even an Android152. See also153 Siliconisation154.
          2. Also, the persistence conditions 155 of bodies156 differ from those of organisms157 in general or human animals158 in particular. Consider the arguments about corpses159, which gives rise to the “Corpse Problem”, an attempted refutation of animalism 160.
        4. Lynne Rudder Baker consistently contrasts her Constitution View161 with that of a bodily view, rather than a biological view. She considers that we persons162 are constituted163 (maybe temporarily) by our bodies164.
        5. Eric Olson distinguishes between organisms165 and bodies, and is doubtful about the existence of the latter166. But he would disagree with Baker even if she claimed that we were constituted by human animals.
        6. Note also, the distinction167 between continuity168 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. Parfit169) that a psychology disconnected from, though continuous with, another is not the same person. See his discussion of Methuselah170.
        7. It seems to me that both the biological view and the bodily continuity view would (theoretically, at least) allow for metamorphosis171 (provided, in the former case, that the metamorphosis172 is into another organism). There are, however, sortal173 objections to metamorphosis174.
      • Body Criterion175
        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 Organisms176, for which the Biological Criterion177 is more relevant.
        4. Were I to continue research in this area, I would consider:-
          1. Bodies as “lumps of matter”
          2. Mereological178 matters – such as mereological essentialism – as far as they apply to bodies.
        5. One of the troubling179 areas for animalism180 – 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 corpse181 – which is not identical to my pre-mortem body (which was an organism) because it has different persistence conditions182. 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 Olson gets round the problem by denying the existence of “bodies” – but this isn’t very intuitive either.
    3. Brains183
      1. There is a view that we are184 really, most fundamentally, our brains. It seems to promise some good things for both the “psychological criterion185” and “bodily criterion186” camps, since the brain is indeed part of the body187, and, in the absence of a soul188, 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 (BIV189)? 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 Animalism190 has to contend with - whether a BIV is an animal. Paul Snowdon claims191 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 sorites192 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 essential193.
      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 “you194” 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 person195 – but the big question is whether this person is a separate substance constituted by196 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 organisms197. 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 organisms198).
      7. These issues are especially important when we consider various Thought Experiments199, in particular Brain Transplants200. Transplantation201 of all sorts seems to involve fusion202, with its logical problems for identity203 (not just for persons).
      • Brain Criterion204
        1. The question is whether the brain is the be-all and end-all of the matter of personal identity for human persons205.
        2. This view seems to be presupposed by those ethicists who espouse the (whole or part) brain death206 criterion for death207. 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 persons208 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 such209). 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 soul210) and as the regulator of the body.
        4. So, the story would go, X is the same person as Y iff211 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 view212, 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 fission213, where – after equalising the hemispheres in psychological potency, we transplant214 one into another body lacking both hemispheres. Or, without needing anything so radical, we sever the corpus callosum in a commissurotomy215, thereby (on this view) creating two persons in one body.
        6. However, if we are animalists216,217 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 might218 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 matters219”). It is an empirical question whether the brain-stem can be divided, and hence whether a brain-based animalist approach is also subject to worries220 about fission.
        7. Anyway, the appropriateness of the Brain criterion of personal identity depends on what we are221– in particular whether we are (most fundamentally, or in the sense of numerical identity222, which is not the same thing) human animals or persons constituted by223 them (or various other things).
        8. Only if we believe that we are (identical to) brains224 will we adopt the brain criterion (though see Mark Johnston on Human Beings225).
      • Brain Death226
        1. Brain death is – loosely speaking, and rather uninformatively – just the death of the brain. More specifically, it is 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 PVS227.
        4. On the Brain View228 of Personal Identity, the death of the brain229 – consistently defined – is obviously the death of the person230 – 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 Beings231.
        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 animalist232 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 matters233 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 Vats234
        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 body235, but not the one I think I have.
          3. The simulation case (which depends on Functionalism236 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 are237. Within the context of my research project, I’ve no interest in the sceptical use of these TEs238, 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 am239 – 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.
      • Cerebra240
        1. The cerebrum is the centre for the higher cognitive capacities of the brain241, and hence of human and other animal242 psychology243.
        2. It is (or they are) one option for the choice of “what we are244” on the part of those who hold the Psychological View245 of personal identity.
        3. The two cerebral hemispheres are joined by the commissures, and commissurotomy246 is a favourite TE247, being an alleged case – suitably elaborated – of the fission248 of the person249; which again (allegedly) shows the non-identity of the human person250 and his animal251.
        4. There is some slackness in the literature where (whole) brain transplants252 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. Souls253
      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 Criterion254 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 Dualism255 and the Cartesian Ego256, 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 Criterion257
        1. So, how do souls258 help with the problem of personal identity? Depending on what we take souls259 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 TEs260 are impossible – fission261, say, if souls are indivisible. Teletransportation262 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 dualist263, the FPP264 – individuating Persons265, as it does – performs the same role as the Soul.
    5. Selves266
      1. The Self is important, as it’s the root of Baker’s FPP267, and the motivator for all psychological268 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 are269 Selves, though not fundamentally so. We human animals270 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 Person271, but this is to waste a term, and it is likely that the two terms can come apart272.
      5. Nor is it just the personality273, 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 kind274 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 self275, which is the experience of being a body and of having a particular body.
        2. The perspectival self276, which is the experience of perceiving the world from a particular first-person point of view.
        3. The volitional self277 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 self278 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 self279 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 Test280 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.
      • I281
        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 Survival282 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 Selves283 or Cartesian Egos284 and maybe others.
        4. It is also not really related to the question What We Are285, 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 Ego286
          1. That we are Cartesian Egos has been a popular suggestion in answer to the question of what we are287. It is presumably what those who first supported the Psychological View288 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 perspective289. Just what is it that’s supposed to look out on the world if not a Cartesian Ego? But Baker is not a dualist290 (at least not in the Cartesian291 sense) – she thinks of us as belonging to the PERSON292 substantial293 kind294, presently constituted by295 a human body296. 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 disembodied297 form). I think for Baker we are essentially embodied – just not by298 the same body.
          4. With respect to the Cartesian Ego, we need to consider just how psychologically unified human persons299 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 modularity300 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 Animalism301.
        2. Dualism302
          1. Dualism is unfashionable these days, which makes it a temptation to ignore. However, well-known contemporary dualists include:-
          2. Time was when all Christians were dualists, but now there is a sub-group of Christian Materialists303. Here’s a skirmish between Lynne Rudder Baker and Dean Zimmerman, starting with
          3. For two contrasting accounts, see:-
          4. My primary text for dualism from an ostensibly secular (even if – I suspect – theistically-motivated) perspective ought to be "Swinburne (Richard) - Personal Identity: The Dualist Theory", though it’s maybe a bit dated.
          5. Dualism is important because if mind-body substance dualism is true, then animalism304 is false.
          6. 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 animals305 with minds. So, the topic might be orthogonal to animalism – the claim that we are animals.
          7. That said, there is a tradition of treating dualism as more sympathetic to the psychological view306 of personal identity, that our persistence conditions are mental, which animalism claims to be irrelevant to our identity.
          8. Also, if dualism is false, I will argue that resurrection307 or reincarnation308 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.
          9. If dualism is true, the possibility of teletransportation309 is even less likely than would be the case were materialism310 true. How would the immaterial soul make it to the new location and be re-united with its reconstituted or newly-constituted body?
      • Narrative Identity311
        1. Narrative identity isn’t really an account of numerical identity312, but is dependent on it. It is analogous to the Psychological View313, 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 personality314 that their life no longer fits into a single narrative.
        2. I noticed in "Jaarsma (Ada) - 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 persons315 as concrete particulars of whatever form and those who think of them as a process316 of some sort.
        3. In brief317, Narrative identity addresses questions of ‘who we really are’ (which is distinct from the generic question What Are We318) 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 unity319, coherence and intelligibility. To be a person320 and a true moral agent321 (it is said), one’s experiences and life events need to be gathered together into the life322 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 worm323 rather than one time-slice being concerned for a future time slice (as in exdurantism324, 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 identity325, then it is just as subject to fission problems326, as is no-doubt revealed in cases of MPD327.
        1. Race328
          1. The topic of Race has a rather tenuous connection to my Thesis as a sub-topic of Narrative Identity329 given how important racial identity is to some people (maybe to all, but tacitly so for the dominant race in a society330).
          2. There seems to be some disagreement about whether “races” actually exist. See Aeon – Hochman – Is ‘race’ modern?331.
          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 & medieval philosophers’ misguided views on slavery: "BBC - Philosophers justifying slavery".
      • Self-Consciousness332
        1. Self-consciousness is more than just phenomenal consciousness333 (which may be a watershed in itself with moral consequences greater than are generally accepted) but the consciousness of oneself as a self334 (as Locke335 noted).
        2. But we need also consider the view that this “watcher” is an illusion, a falsely-assumed Cartesian Ego336 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. Death337 is a biological event that – at least in the ordinary case – can happen to an organism only once.
          2. So, whatever Selves338 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 philosophical339” 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. Consciousness340
          1. Conscious mental phenomena are central to any account of what persons341 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) animals342, and self consciousness343 (ie. awareness of self344), usually assumed345 to be the preserve of human beings346 only.
          2. Lynne Rudder Baker alleges an ontological change (an ontological novelty) when beings with a First Person Perspective347 come on the scene. I think first-person perspective348 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. Functionalism349
          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 View350 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 materialist351 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 physical352 view or animalism353.
          5. I am highly suspicious of Functionalism as it applies to consciousness354, 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 experiment355, 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 ‘uploading356’ a person to a computer depends on Functionalism for any plausibility whatever.
        3. Supervenience357
          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 supervenience358: "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 dualism359, I’m interested in Supervenience because it is related to questions of Constitution360 and multiple-occupancy361. It is also claimed as an objection362 to Eric Olson’s Thinking Animal Argument363.
        4. Zombies364
          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 materialism365. If materialism366 is true, then zombies are impossible – on the assumption that we are conscious367.
          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 animalism368, which discounts the importance of the mental for our persistence.
            2. The constitution view369 might equally be unperturbed. This depends on whether zombies have a FPP370. 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 FPP371.
            3. Consciousness is often said to be something essential to being a person372.
    6. Patterns in Information Space373
      1. Andy Clark is particularly keen on this sort of idea, claiming that we are374 “patterns in information space”.
      2. Variants on this theme that immediately come to mind include:-
        1. The transhumanists375 seem to assume that we are information, in that some of them imagine and hope that we376 will one day be able to be uploaded377 to a computer and dwell therein.
        2. The primary variants of Teletransportation378 assume that we can be converted to information, beamed up to our destination and reconstituted as the very same individual.
        3. Brain State Transfers379 are another variant on this theme.
      3. I don’t go along with any of this, adopting the animalist380 approach that we are essentially organisms381 essentially embodied in the one body382 we will ever have.
      4. I should remark that Richard Dawkins claims that Life383 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 Theories384
      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 substances385 as the bearers of properties386 that may qualify their bearers as persons387, Bundle theories focus on collections of perceptions and thoughts to constitute388 minds389 and sensations to constitute bodies390 – or variations on such themes.
      3. The classic statement is that of Hume391, though there’s some doubt as to whether Hume actually used the term.
      • Hume392
        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 Theories393
      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 animalism394 but also give a high regard to the First Person Perspective395 so that – if this FPP396 is maintained throughout some adventure – it trumps whatever animalism has to say. This applies particularly to Brain Transplants397, 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 Animalism398 and the Constitution View399 as a hybrid theory in the context of Hylomorphism400.
      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. Nihilism401
      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 time402 – 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-style403, 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 animal404” argument. He seems committed to both.
      • Buddhism405
        1. Buddhist teachings are relevant in at least two ways to the philosophy of personal identity:-
          1. The rejection of the importance of the Self406. There are some connections to Parfit’s407 ideas.
          2. The insistence on Reincarnation408.
        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 view409" of our persistence conditions410 – 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 reincarnation411. Those who are thoroughgoing materialists412 (like me) can't. I’m sure the Dalai Lama413 is a very nice man, but his position and authority depends on him being a reincarnation414 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 view415 of our identity, then the very same soul may be reincarnated416 – ie. given a new body. This is despite the possessor of that soul – in a previous life – being a different human being417 (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 Chapter418, we consider just what a Person is.
  2. This is work in progress419.

Links to Books / Papers to be Addressed420
  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 FPP423, 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 read424, include the following:-
  1. What are We?425
  2. Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter
    1. Human Beings448
    2. Bodies
    3. Brains
    4. Souls
    5. Selves
    6. Patterns in Information Space506
    7. Bundle Theories
    8. Hybrid Theories521
    9. Nihilism

A further reading list might start with:-
  1. What are We?530
  2. Candidates for what we are, considered in this Chapter
    1. Human Beings538
    2. Bodies
    3. Brains
    4. Souls
    5. Selves
    6. Patterns in Information Space575
    7. Bundle Theories
    8. Hybrid Theories580
    9. Nihilism

In-Page Footnotes:

Footnote 12: Footnotes 51, 53: Footnote 55: Footnote 95: In "Olson (Eric) - What are We? A Study of Personal Ontology"

Footnote 147: According to most interpreters

Footnote 153:
  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 166:
  1. This is to get round the “Corpse Problem” noted previously.
Footnote 191:
  1. Where? I need to check this out.
Footnote 193:
  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 209:
  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 211:
  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 218:
  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 220:
  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 272:
  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 275:
  1. We are referred to "Seth (Anil Kumar) - Interoceptive inference, emotion, and the embodied self".
Footnote 276:
  1. We are referred to "Ehrsson (H. Henrik) - The Experimental Induction of Out-of-Body Experiences".
Footnote 277:
  1. We are referred to "Haggard (Patrick) - Human volition: towards a neuroscience of will".
Footnote 279:
  1. We are referred to "Frith (Christopher D.) & Frith (Uta) - Mechanisms of Social Cognition".
Footnote 280:
  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 291:
  1. See her "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Christians Should Reject Mind-Body Dualism".
Footnote 298:
  1. Or, rather than “embodied by”, “embodied “as”?
Footnote 300:
  1. For Modularity of Mind, see especially "Fodor (Jerry) - The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology".
Footnote 317:
  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 345:
  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 358:
  1. Quotation from the cover blurb of "Preyer (Gerhard) & Siebelt (Frank) - Reality and Humean Supervenience: Essays on the Philosophy of David Lewis".
Footnote 367:
  1. This relates the the problem of other minds.
  2. See "Avramides (Anita) - Other Minds".
Footnote 402: See the introduction to "Unger (Peter) - The Mental Problems of the Many" (2004) for a recantation.

Footnote 413:
  1. See Wikipedia: Succession of the 14th Dalai Lama for a discussion of the succession from 14th to 15th Delai Lama.
Footnote 420: Footnote 427: Footnote 434: Footnote 436: Footnote 438: Footnote 440: Footnotes 442, 512: Footnote 443: Footnote 460: Footnote 463: Footnote 467: Footnote 471: Footnote 488: Footnote 504: Footnote 507: Footnote 508: Footnote 529: Footnote 532: Footnote 534: Footnote 539: Footnote 547: Footnotes 550, 552: Footnote 553: Footnotes 555, 573: Footnote 562: Footnote 564: Footnote 566: Footnote 567: Footnote 570: Footnote 571: Footnote 579:

Table of the Previous 12 Versions of this Note: (of 21)

Date Length Title
06/07/2023 00:43:12 140188 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
28/09/2022 10:24:58 138964 Thesis - Chapter 02 (What are We?)
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?)

Note last updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
01/06/2024 05:34:19 None available Thesis - Preface

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 - Review - Olson - What Are We? 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? Olson - What Are We? Animals Olson - What Are We? Brains Olson - What Are We? Bundles
Olson - What Are We? Nihilism Olson - What Are We? Souls Olson - What Are We? Temporal Parts Olson - What Are We? The Question Olson - What Are We? What Now?
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 (2024: May) 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    

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.

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 (2024: May), 2 Thesis - Chapter 01 (Introduction), 2
Thesis - Chapter 04 (Basic Metaphysical Issues) Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments) Thesis - Preface 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 Website Generator Documentation - Thesis Technology
What are We?        

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.

Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note

Author Title Medium Extra Links Read?
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
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Chapter 10 (Thought Experiments) Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Descartes Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Disembodied Existence Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Existence Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Origins Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Preface 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

Author Title Medium Source Read?
Aeon Video - Phrenology: the weirdest pseudoscience of them all? Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Aeon, 06 May 2021 Yes
Alexander (Ronald) The Self, Supervenience and Personal Identity Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Alexander (Ronald) - The Self, Supervenience and Personal Identity 6%
Alland (Alexander) To Be Human: An Introduction to Anthropology Book - Cited Alland (Alexander) - To Be Human: An Introduction to Anthropology No
Andrewes (David) Neuropsychology: From Theory to Practice Book - Cited High Quality Abstract Andrewes (David) - Neuropsychology: From Theory to Practice 1%
Anscombe (G.E.M.), Geach (Mary), Gormally (Luke), Eds. Human Life, Action and Ethics Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Bibliographical details to be supplied 10%
Avramides (Anita) Other Minds Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Avramides (Anita) - Other Minds No
Ayer (A.J.) Language, Truth and Logic Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Low Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied Yes
Ayer (A.J.) The Self and the Common World Paper - Cited Low Quality Abstract Ayer - Language, Truth and Logic, Chapter 7 Yes
Baars (Bernard) In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Baars (Bernard) - In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind 2%
Bailey (Andrew M.) The Elimination Argument Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Philosophical Studies 168 (2014): 475-482 56%
Baillie (James) Problems in Personal Identity Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Medium Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied 45%
Baillie (James) What Am I? Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity, 1993, Chapter 4 Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) Big-Tent Metaphysics Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Abstracta Special Issue I – 2008 (Brazil) Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) Christians Should Reject Mind-Body Dualism Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Peterson (Michael) & Van Arragon (Raymond) - Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, 2004 Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) Persons in the Material World Paper - Cited Baker (Lynne) - Persons and Bodies, Chapter 1, pp. 3-88 Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) Precis of 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View' Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, e-Symposium on "Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View" Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) Response to Eric Olson Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Abstracta Special Issue I – 2008 (Brazil) Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) Review of 'Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?' by Nancey Murphy Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006.08.03 (August 2006) Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) Review of 'What Are We? A Study in Personal Ontology' by Eric T. Olson Paper - Cited Mind, 117:1120-1122, 2008 Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) What Am I? Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Mar99, Vol. 59 Issue 1, p151, 9p; Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder) When Do Persons Begin and End? Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Distinguished Faculty Lecture, December 5, 2005 Yes
Baker (Lynne Rudder), Etc. E-Symposium on 'Persons & Bodies: A Constitution View' Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Low Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied Yes
Baker (Peter) An Explanation of How Brains Think Book - Cited Baker (Peter) - An Explanation of How Brains Think No
Ball (Philip) How to Grow a Human: Reprogramming Cells and Redesigning Life Book - Cited High Quality Abstract Ball (Philip) - How to Grow a Human: Reprogramming Cells and Redesigning Life Yes
Ball (Philip) What on earth is a xenobot? Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Aeon, 30 August 2022 Yes
Barash (David P.) Stuck with the soul Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Aeon, 20 March 2023 Yes
Barash (David P.) Through a Glass Brightly: Using Science to See Our Species as We Really Are Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Barash (David P.) - Through a Glass Brightly: Using Science to See Our Species as We Really Are 2%
Bauby (Jean-Dominique) The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Bauby (Jean-Dominique) - The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly Yes
BBC Philosophers justifying slavery Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract BBC Website, 2014. Archived. Yes
Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) Neuroscience Book - Cited High Quality Abstract Bear (Mark), Connors (Barry) & Paradiso (Michael) - Neuroscience Yes
Beck (Simon) Back To The Self And The Future Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract South African Journal of Philosophy, Aug98, Vol. 17 Issue 3, p211, 15p; Yes
Becker (Lawrence) Human Being: The Boundaries of the Concept Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Philosophy and Public Affairs, 4.4 (Summer 1975), 334-359 Yes
Beet (Joseph Agar) The Immortality of the Soul: A Protest Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Beet (Joseph Agar) - The Immortality of the Soul: A Protest No
Belshaw (Christopher) Review of Paul Snowdon's 'Persons, Animals, Ourselves' Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Times Higher Education Website, January 8, 2015 Yes
Bennett (M.R.) & Hacker (P.M.S.) Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Bennett (M.R.) & Hacker (P.M.S.) - Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience 1%
Benson (Ophelia) This Isn't My Body Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract From "Think" Website / The Philosopher's Magazine, 2005. Yes
Bermudez (Jose Luis) The Paradox of Self-Consciousness Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Bermudez (Jose Luis) - The Paradox of Self-Consciousness No
Bermudez (Jose Luis) Thinking Without Words Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Bermudez (Jose Luis) - Thinking Without Words 6%
Bermudez (Jose Luis), Marcel (Anthony) & Eilan (Naomi), Eds. The Body and the Self Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Bermudez (Jose Luis), Marcel (Anthony) & Eilan (Naomi), Eds. - The Body and the Self 4%
Bess (Michael) Why upgrading your brain could make you less human Paper - Cited Aeon, 08 February, 2017 Yes
Bilgrami (Akeel) What Kind of Creatures Are We? Foreword Paper - Cited Low Quality Abstract Chomsky (Noam) - What Kind of Creatures Are We? Yes
Black (Jeremy) A Brief History of Slavery Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Black (Jeremy) - A Brief History of Slavery Yes
Blackburn (Simon) Review of Stephen Pinker - The Blank Slate ('Meet the Flintstones') Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract New Republic, 2003 Yes
Blakemore (Colin) & Greenfield (Susan), Eds. Mindwaves: Thoughts on Intelligence, Identity and Consciousness Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Blakemore (Colin) & Greenfield (Susan), Eds. - Mindwaves: Thoughts on Intelligence, Identity and Consciousness 0%
Blatti (Stephan) Animalism (SEP) Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2014 Yes
Blatti (Stephan) Animalism and its Implications Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract OU Website (now deleted) Yes
Blatti (Stephan) Review of 'The Rise and Fall of Soul and Self', by Raymond Martin and John Barresi Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Mind 117 (2008): 191–95 Yes
Blatti (Stephan) We Are Animals Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Philosophy for Us, ed. Lenny Clapp (Cognella, 2018), 73-82 Yes
Bloom (Paul) Descartes' Baby: How Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Bloom (Paul) - Descartes' Baby: How Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human 0%
Borges (Jorge Luis) Borges and I Paper - Cited Low Quality Abstract Borges (Jorge Luis) - Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings Yes
Borges (Jorge Luis) Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Medium Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied 3%
Borst (C.V.), Ed. The Mind-Brain Identity Theory Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Borst (C.V.), Ed. - The Mind-Brain Identity Theory No
Bostrom (Nick) Are You Living in a Computer Simulation? Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Philosophical Quarterly, 2003, Vol. 53, No. 211, pp. 243-255 Yes
Bostrom (Nick) How Long Before Superintelligence? Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Personal Website. Yes
Bostrom (Nick) The Simulation Argument: Reply to Weatherson Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Philosophical Quarterly, 2005, Vol. 55, No. 218, pp. 90-97 No
Boxill (Bernard), Ed. Race and Racism: Oxford Readings in Philosophy Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Boxill (Bernard), Ed. - Race and Racism: Oxford Readings in Philosophy No
Bradley (Ben), Feldman (Fred) & Johansson (Jens) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Low Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied 7%
Brandom (Robert) Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing & Discursive Commitment Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Brandom (Robert) - Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing & Discursive Commitment 3%
Brandon (Ed) Review of David Lund's 'Persons, Souls and Death' Paper - Cited High Quality Abstract Metapsychology Online Reviews, Jul 28th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 31) Yes
Brendon (Piers) The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Brendon (Piers) - The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire 1%
Broks (Paul) Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Broks (Paul) - Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology 2%
Brown (Warren) Numinous or Carnal Persons - The Practical Costs of Inner Souls and Selves Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Last Seminary: Non-Reductive Physicalism, February 16, 2005 4%
Brown (Warren), Murphy (Nancey) & Malony (H. Newton), Eds. Whatever Happened to the Soul: Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature Book - Cited High Quality Abstract Brown (Warren), Murphy (Nancey) & Malony (H. Newton), Eds. - Whatever Happened to the Soul: Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature 4%
Brues (Alice M.) People and Races Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Brues (Alice M.) - People and Races 1%
Bynum (Terrell Ward) Audio: Two Philosophers of the Information Age Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Backdoor Broadcasting Company; Metaphilosophical Directions for the 21st Century - 11 December 2009 33%
Callcut (Daniel) What are we? Paper - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Aeon, 11 June 2018 Yes
Campbell (John) Past, Space and Self Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Campbell (John) - Past, Space and Self 7%
Carruthers (Peter) Dualism: Body and Soul Paper - Cited Low Quality Abstract Carruthers - Introducing Persons, 1986, Chapter 2 (pp. 39 - 67) Yes
Carruthers (Peter) Introducing Persons: Identity and the Soul Paper - Cited Low Quality Abstract Carruthers - Introducing Persons, 1986, Chapter 3 (pp. 68 - 100) Yes
Carruthers (Peter) Introducing Persons: Theories and Arguments in the Philosophy of Mind Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Low Quality Abstract Bibliographical details to be supplied Yes
Carruthers (Peter) Rationalism, Empiricism, and the Soul Paper - Cited Low Quality Abstract Carruthers - The Nature of the Mind, 2004, Chapter 4 Yes
Carruthers (Peter)