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Baillie - What Am I?
(Text as at 17/04/2018 21:04:19)
(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)
This write-up is a review of "Baillie (James) - What Am I?". It’s my take on what’s said, somewhat compressed. My own comments universally appear as “Note:”.
- Question: what kind of thing am I? Obvious answers: a person, man, human being; Scotsman, philosopher.
- Wiggins: a=b; a, b temporal stages of a material object that’s a member of a natural kind; where a natural-kind concept is one that plays an explanatory role in the natural sciences. Contrast natural kinds with artefact-kinds. a and b must fall under the same sortal concept; a must be the same something as b.
- Question: are natural kinds merely extensions of concepts; do they exist independently of our conceptual structures, or is it merely the particulars that fall under these concepts that exist.
- Answer: Kinds are extensions of concepts. So a kind can exist in the absence of a concept (though no-one could talk about it).
- Note: The reference to “temporal stages” doesn’t presuppose perdurantism.
- Wiggins’s Thesis D: the Sortal Dependency of Identity, a =f b:
a=b iff there exists a sortal concept f such that:-
- a, b belong to a kind that is the extension of f.
- That x falls under f, that x is an f, says what x is.
- a is the same f as b, or a coincides with b under f.
- Substance-Concepts versus Phased Sortal Concepts. The former apply “present tense” throughout the entire existence of a given object and specify a “form of life” or “principle of activity”. The latter eg. CHILD, TEENAGER apply “present tense” only at certain temporal stages.
- We don’t need to specify f to make identity statements. We only require that a and b be the same something, whatever that something might be. The constitution of that “something” is then a matter for empirical investigation.
- Locke’s Man/Person Distinction:
- Question Restated: What substance-concept do I fall under? Locke was the first to realise there is a philosophical problem raised by the dualistic conception of human beings. Same man versus same person. Standard Lockean account of “Person” as a self-aware thinking thing.
- Descartes had presupposed that any biologically-based sortal concept could not specify what I essentially am, namely a thinking thing.
- Locke’s criterion of personal identity is an uninterrupted flow of self-conscious awareness.
- Locke also considered that we fall under another biologically-based sortal concept, namely MAN. Same-MAN questions should be distinguished from same-PERSON questions, as the criteria are different (spatio-temporal track versus sameness of memory). Potential divergence: prince and cobbler thought experiment (TE).
- Note: I continue to be worried that Relative Identity may raise its head here. Baillie addresses the matter in Section 7 below.
- Locke’s distinction prefigures the debate between supporters of the Physical and Psychological criteria of Personal Identity.
- Baillie doubts that we should attribute to Locke the thought that we are essentially immaterial souls contingently embodied. He expatiates briefly on what Locke meant by “consciousness” and the soul. While Locke does not deny the existence of the soul, he does deny that it is the essential bearer of Personal Identity, and has the Socrates / Mayor of Queensborough TE to demonstrate the contention.
- For Descartes, memory can only be evidence for Personal Identity; for Locke it is constitutive of it.
- Locke’s Day/Night persons anticipate Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD).
- Note: Baillie considers MPD to be “well established”, but I understand it to be controversial.
- Baillie thinks Locke’s theory faces insuperable difficulties: something has to be the bearer of memory and consciousness (which for Locke constitute PI). They are not free-floating self-sufficient entities any more than the Cheshire Cat’s smile (is).
- Note: Darn! I thought I’d invented this analogy. However, some argument is required, as treating persons as universals like software seems to be a popular notion.
- Baillie concludes that Locke’s account is incoherent, the error being to focus on memory & consciousness alone without reference to its means of embodiment. As such, there are no nomological factors adduced that would define what’s possible for persons as such. Baillie takes this discussion further in Chapter 6 - "Baillie (James) - Memory".
- Note: where above we have “embodiment” might this not be “ensoulment”?
- Baillie thinks that Locke divorced MAN and PERSON because he, like Descartes, thought that the biological category MAN (viewed mechanistically) couldn’t possibly account for the higher mental (and therefore moral) functions of PERSONs. Baillie notes that the advent of computers has undermined such convictions.
- Note: isn’t there a passage where Locke allows that mental predicates could have been superadded to matter by the Creator? Also, there’s scepticism that digital computers at least are up to the job of phenomenal consciousness or the kind of free will that’s allegedly essential for moral accountability.
- Natural Kinds and Natural Laws:
- Baillie considers Human Being vs Homo Sapiens as analogous to Gold vs “The Element with Atomic Number 79”. All are natural kind terms, differing only in the degree of scientific precision whereby they pick out the individuals that fall under these concepts. The second item in each pair is a more precise classification.
- Question: Is PERSON a natural kind term? No, because it fails the Kripke/Putnam test, which HUMAN BEING and HOMO SAPIENS pass.
- Kripke/Putnam test: causal theory of reference. Key elements:-
- Law-like principles collecting the actual extension of the kind around an arbitrary good specimen.
- These principles determine the characteristic development and typical history of members of the extension.
- Wiggins’s Animal Attribute theory of PERSONHOOD. Two aspects:
- Natural kind component: the animal species.
- Functional / systemic component: various higher cognitive faculties.
- Note: why does Wiggins think only animals qualify as persons? See Supervision1 comment – it seems that in so far as we can conceive of allegedly non-animal persons, they are animals.
- Quote from "Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance", p. 171.
- Note: Wiggins references “typical members” so, the individual does not need to possess these attributes, only belong to an animal species whose typical members do; also “self-conception”. Wiggins comments on this quote in "Wiggins (David) - Reply to Snowdon (Persons and Personal Identity)", saying that the dots (representing the class of intensional predicates) aren’t due to laziness.
- Functions: neither persons nor species are for anything, so are to be contrasted with exemplars of artefact-kinds. However, organs have functions within the overall division of labour within the organism. Analogously, there are various mental functions within the mind/brain, and these are partly constitutive of persons.
- Baillie rejects “carbon-based chauvinism”, and allows machines to be persons (in principle).
- So, PERSON is not a natural-kind term, but an attribute of certain animals. It cross-classifies a number of natural kinds.
- Further, PERSON is only a secondary classification, for two reasons:-
- Personhood depends on the possession of a physical structure sufficient for the psychological attributes.
- These attributes are only possessed contingently, and can be lost, though the vegetative bodily functions remain.
- Claim (i) above depends on physicalism. Is this assumed throughout this discussion?
- Claim (ii) above seems to ignore Wiggins’s “typical members” clause. Is it an objective matter whether we call a one-time person who’s lost his faculties a person? He might still be a person according to Wiggins, since he still belongs to a species whose typical members possess these attributes.
- Baillie draws an analogy between the failed attempts of:-
- Treating PERSON as a natural-kind concept, and
- Adopting the type/type theory of mind/brain identity.
The reason is that neither demands the same physical instantiation of a psychological function.
- Note: Baillie is a bit quick to remark that “psychology is irreducible to neuroscience”. Doesn’t it depend on what’s expected in the reduction? Can’t we relativise to the appropriate infrastructure and then claim “nothing over and above”? Can’t we have a token-token reduction?
- The precise analogy Baillie claims is that just as anything that preserves the right causal dependency between stimulus and behaviour is a mental state, so anything that possesses the mental predicates required of personhood is a person.
- This account of the mental seems to be unduly behaviouristic. This may not matter to the analogy, except we are discussing the mental aspects of personhood.
- Are no physical predicates required of a PERSON? Aren’t there physical predicates essential to our makeup? This may say that we are not essentially persons, as the animalists maintain. We need to distinguish our predicates qua PERSON and qua HUMAN ANIMAL.
- What about the phenomenology required of both mental life and personhood? Not just any infrastructure that provides the behavioural functionality will do.
- What’s the correct import of the analogy? That persons (like minds) are irreducible to biology? This isn’t what Baillie and Wiggins want? Or, maybe it is, but is a result that can be misunderstood. Considered as a type-type reduction, the reduction fails, because the bodily instantiations of persons (and minds) can differ; but, a token-token reduction can work. But then, as with token-token reduction in the philosophy of mind, we need to explain what (from a physicalist point of view) makes all pains instantiations of PAIN, and all persons instantiations of PERSON. This might not be a problem.
- Persons and Artefacts: the class of animal-kinds permitting person-tokens is open. These kinds are so diverse in physical structure, there is no nomological principle gathering together all and only the underlying individuals under a natural-kind concept. This is what we see with artefact-kinds: there is no inner structure underlying their outer characteristics. So, persons can only be collected together as for members of artefact-kinds, by a functional characterisation irreducible to any one physical description.
- Note: again, this is at the type, rather than token level. The functioning of an individual knife is explained by its physical structure, and there are constraints on the sort of structure that can give a functioning knife. But there is no one physical structure that exemplifies all knives.
- Essences: according to Wiggins, each person has a real essence – that of the animal-kind under which it falls. He mentions human-persons and dolphin-persons in "Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance", p. 172.
- Baillie takes an initial swipe at TEs, which he’ll address fully in Chapter 5 - "Baillie (James) - Methodology Matters". The issue is that the principles of individuation and identity conditions for individuals falling under a natural kind concept are subject to the laws by which that kind is delimited. Taking HUMAN BEING for example, if we “stretch” these laws (as with fusion or fission TEs) we can have no trust in our intuitions, because such individuals could not be members of that kind. Fusion and fission aren’t within the scope of their principles of activity.
- Note: lest we lose the plot, while we’re interested in PERSONs, we can only sensibly talk about their persistence conditions in the light of their essences – the substance-concept under which they fall. I’m slightly worried about this. There seem to be two sorts of question, which may exemplify the de re / de dicto destinction:
- If a is the same human being as b, and a and b are both persons, then, in one sense, a and b are the same person because they are the same HUMAN BEING (because they are the same individual). Is this de re (since HUMAN BEING is the category of thing a is)?
- If a has psychologically similar-enough predicates to b (maybe with some appropriate “causal chain” constraints) then a is the same PERSON as b. Is this de dicto (since PERSON is the concept under which we want to talk about a)?
- All this is presumably related to the hardware / software and person / personality distinctions.
- Once an “f”:
- Wiggins’s theory precludes the possibility of metamorphosis2. An individual cannot change its substance sortal and remain the same individual.
- Note: Baillie links this to Spatio-temporal continuity, and it is true that it is considerations along these lines that first got Wiggins interested in issues of Identity – see "Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity". However, I can’t currently see the logical connection. Maybe substance sortals by their very nature have to be physical. If so, the concept of an immaterial substance (like souls and God) would be incoherent. This is not obviously the case, though these concepts are underspecified, so it’s difficult to tell.
- Note: important though it is, this spatio-temporal continuity requirement seems to have hopped in from nowhere. Did I miss it earlier in the chapter, or was it discussed earlier in the book – eg. in "Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity: Introduction" & "Baillie (James) - Identity and Survival"?
- Baillie now turns to Parfit and 6 variants of the Teletransportation (hereafter TT) TE. I reserve the Notes until the 6 cases are described:
Note: Baillie doesn’t recount T6 in the first person, nor label it “T6”, but he could have done so, so I have done so for the sake of neatness.
- T1: the standard case, where my body is destroyed as my matter is scanned. The information is used to build a qualitatively exactly similar body from new matter. I have perfect psychological continuity in my replicated state, and seem to myself to have just awakened from a nap.
- T2: the “branch-line” case, where the scanner doesn’t destroy the original “me” immediately, but where I survive for a few days.
- T3: This is a variant of Williams’s Brain State Transfer device, extended so that a body grossly homologous to mine, but with a different genetic structure (that of a Z-PERSON), is created and my psychology is copied into its brain. The idea is that I am fatally injured, but my psychology is parachuted out into another body. What Baillie intends by “different genetic structure” isn’t immediately apparent, other than that the animal, though humanoid, is not human. It appears later that he means that the body has “an entirely different cellular structure”, though it looks like mine if you don’t look too closely.
- T4: This TE extends T3 so that we no longer have macro-level similarity to my former embodiment, and I require counselling to cope.
- T5: This TE appears to be an account of one form of Christian resurrection, though into an exactly similar body to the pre-mortem one, rather than into a “spiritual body”. It appears that I die normally. As such (as Baillie notes) this scenario seems similar to T1.
- T6: this is the “Brundlefly” case from Cronenberg’s movie The Fly. In this case, the “genetic codes” of a human being and a fly are intermingled in the course of the teletransportation, resulting in a hybrid with ghastly consequences. Baillie considers the case to be similar to T1.
- Notes: The cases T1 – T6 are all tendentiously described as though I have survived, or at least as though it seems to me as though I’ve survived, mistaken though I might be. I’ve had difficulty persuading anyone of this, but it seems to me that it would not appear to me as though I’d survived at all (other than as the moribund “branch-line” survivor in T2). I would go to sleep and not wake up. Someone else qualitatively similar would wake up, but there would be nothing it is like for me to be that person. If that person were to be tortured, I would have no self-interested concern. It is true that the replica would wake up (though he had never gone to sleep) and would think himself to be me, but he would be wrong. The reason for this assertion is twofold:
Something (presumably of a self-referential sort) enables that brain to continue its phenomenal consciousness and self-consciousness from moment to moment. Something distinguishes the forward going of the original and the initial backward-looking of the duplicate, but I don’t know what it is. Handwavingly, it’s the “wrong sort of causal chain”, and it’s this causal-chain failure that defeats the various TT TEs. This discussion is to be continued3.
- Firstly the logic of identity, as has been brought out above: this argument might be undermined by a perdurantist account of persistence, but in that case many of the problems of personal identity disappear. Setting aside perdurantism for now, there seems to be something dissatisfying about relying on the logic of identity here. If it seems to me that I’ve survived, in that (as described) I go to sleep and wake up again, then I have survived. Also, survival – persistence - entails identity; so, the TE cannot be possible, there must be something logically wrong with it.
- The second reason takes up this intuition and has to do with difficult questions about how conscious experience arises. I can only sketch some intuitions here. I reject substance dualism: there are no souls with special capacities for thinking and feeling. I also reject functionalism: the “hardware” of the sensitive individual is important – no network of baked-bean tins and string would be phenomenally conscious however it might perform behaviouristically in converting inputs to outputs. Something in the physical embodiment of animal brains enables phenomenal consciousness and the higher cognitive functions that rely on phenomenal consciousness for their importance to the self that has them.
- The lessons that Baillie draws from these TEs (on which my Notes appear in the next bullet) are …
- We are constrained by the 1-1 logic of identity; so, in the Branch-Line case I cannot be identical to both the moribund original and the teletransportee.
- Under T2, I and my replica are as twins, and we diverge physically and psychologically following the experiment. He claims that Parfit doesn’t bring this point out sufficiently, but it’s not clear to me why this is relevant here – other than to stress the obvious non-identity of the two individuals.
- Baillie accepts Parfit’s distinction between deeply impossible (ie. nomologically impossible) and technically impossible (practically impossible) cases. However, he thinks that it’s difficult to tell under which category a particular TE falls, since they are underspecified and “gloss over a vastness of ignorance”. If I remember correctly, this is one of Wilkes’s main objections to TEs in "Wilkes (Kathleen) - Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments". Baillie assumes, for the sake of the argument, that these issues can be resolved (reserving the argument that they cannot until Chapter 5 - "Baillie (James) - Methodology Matters").
- We have the “new dualism” of matter and information, as exemplified in T3 & T4. A key dependency here is Functionalism, leading to psychological continuity across a change of kind.
- Christianity is underspecified as to what survives death. The current favourite is Cartesian Dualism, but T5 has no commitment to this. Cartesian Dualism is unsatisfactory because, inter alia, of the difficulty of identifying and individuating immaterial souls.
- Wiggins would say that identity cannot be preserved in T6 because “we have no spatio-temporal continuity under a single substance-sortal”. The only natural kind concept that contains both Brundle and Brundlefly is “organism” which is too broad to qualify as a substance-concept. Similarly, this failure of identity is also the case in T1 (though for purely spatiotemporal reasons). Yet this is counter-intuitive in both cases.
- I don’t think Baillie explicitly makes this point, but a modal argument means we should conclude that I’m not identical with the teletransportee even in the T1 case. Baillie refers to the teletransportee (tendentiously) as “my replica” under T2, but not under T1.
- I think the logic of identity is satisfied in the perdurantist analysis of T2. In that case there always were two of me sharing stages prior to the teletransportation.
- It is usually taken that treating me and the replica as a single distributed individual is absurd. I agree, but ought to spell out why. Given the TE of the BIV remotely linked up to its body; a single distributed human being (or person) is not absurd; and given MPD, multiple independent psychologies within a single human being are not absurd. The objection to the suggestion that the “two individuals” in T2 are really one is that the two bodies each display the form of life of different individuals of the kind HOMO SAPIENS, so should be treated as such (otherwise we should treat twins as a single individual).
- Baillie’s reference to “different genetic structure” in T3 is confusing. What he seems to mean is that the essence of an animal is defined by its genetic code. Now the genetic codes of any two individuals that aren’t twins, clones or replicants differ, but some are similar enough to claim their owners for the same Natural Kind. There are (I believe) debates within evolutionary theory whether the concept of a species (and hence of a natural kind) makes sense, as species merge into one another both across space and time (and the usual sign of conspecificity – the production of fertile offspring – is non-transitive). What Baillie means by “genetic structure” is the genetic program that controls somatic development and form. If the forms are sufficiently different, the individuals have different genetic structures. The only difference between T3 and T4 is the degree of genetic difference. I presume that the very nature of the genetic encoding isn’t relevant here – ie. there’s no insistence on DNA/RNA.
- I can see no reason why we should expect continuity of phenomenal consciousness across any information transfer.
- Baillie’s rejection of souls is a bit quick. Has he dealt with the matter elsewhere? Maybe in "Baillie (James) - Aspects of Non-Reductionism" (see references to Swinburne).
- Brundlefly is absurd, in that there’s more to an individual (and his body) than his genetic code. Reproducing the body would have to be atom-by-atom rather than formulaic. The salient point in this context, however, is that the genetic code determines the process of development that is essential to determining the kind.
- Further Brundlefly questions: Just what is it that defines the species concept? How do fusions work? How is TE6 best described? As a human with some form of malignant cancer? How does this differ from certain forms of extreme radiation poisoning? Presumably when Brundlefly is mostly fly, he no longer possesses the psychological predicates constitutive of personhood.
- Is Wiggins right? His account just seems to be expounded rather than argued for here. What is Baillie’s considered view? Can there be a substance-concept with a variable genetic make-up? After all there is (at least initially) gross physical similarity and functional isomorphism and a continued typical form of life (albeit an odd one). Just what is the genetic blueprint seen as being for here? Something that’s just an identifier, or something that guides the maintenance of proteins, etc? What about individuals with a single genetic makeup that metamorphose4?
The above points need tidying up a bit!
- Conditions of Survival:
- Baillie sees Parfit’s greatest contribution as shifting the focus on whether person x(t1) is the same as y(t2) to whether Relation R holds between them. This circumvents some indeterminate cases and focuses on what matters in survival – Relation R (which can hold to degrees, and between different individuals).
- Note: To have anything that matters to me I must survive. If I don’t survive, I don’t have anything that matters, someone else does. I may survive without what matters (eg. on the animalist view, I survive in a PVS, but not with what matters). Note that “having what matters” is ambiguous – I don’t have what matters to me in the cases where I’m tortured, but I still (sadly) survive. However (read on) Brennan has other views.
- Baillie now seems to support Andrew Brennan’s thesis in "Brennan (Andrew) - Conditions of Identity" wherein the R-relation (that of psychological continuity) is replaced by the S-relation (Survival relation), a more general and allegedly more primitive relation than diachronic identity. It allows for “surviving in” or, more strongly, “surviving as”, both of which fall short of identity but allegedly provide some (or a lot) of what we want in strict survival. There are three conditions for the S-relation, the first two necessary, the last (in conjunction with the other two) sufficient, for x surviving in y:-
Baillie remarks that the Material Condition cannot be necessary because we have to allow for surviving in or as “something composed of different matter”.
- Structure Condition: x and y must share the same structure.
- Causal Condition: x must be the “prototype” of y, directly causally involved in its production.
- Matter Condition: x and y must be constructed of matter of the same kind.
- I think all this is incoherent, or at least an abuse of standard terms. There’s no such thing as “surviving in” or “surviving as”. As Woody Allen says, “I don’t want to achieve immortality in my work, I want to achieve immortality by not dying”.
- The Structure Condition doesn’t seem to be necessary.
- Baillie’s remark on the Material Condition presumably means different kinds of matter (or the requirement would otherwise boringly apply to any material object whatever).
- In this context, we need to make two further distinctions:-
- Between Types and Tokens, and
- Between Copying Processes and Production Processes.
- By way of explanation:-
- In a Copying Process, one item is the prototype of the other.
- In a Production Process, one item is used as the prototype of a whole conveyor-belt full of copies. Successive copies do not enjoy any causal link between one another (they simply have a common cause), so one doesn’t survive as the other (though presumably all survive as their prototype, though Baillie isn’t very clear on this).
- In a copying process, x and y are tokens of the same type if one survives as the other to a suitably high degree.
- In a production process, x and y are tokens of the same type if they are produced by a common causal process and satisfy the Structure and Matter conditions of the S-relation. We have replication without survival.
- Note: the last comment above seems to be a muddle.
- Firstly, Baillie doesn’t say what form of survival he’s talking about, though presumably it’s one of the “in” or “as” forms.
- Secondly, surely (by Brennan’s lights) the prototype survives in replicants, even though one replicant does not survive in the other.
- Baillie makes reference to “Robinson’s counter-example to Parfit’s Physical Spectrum” in "Baillie (James) - Identity and Survival", which is allegedly answered by the Production Process, but I’ve not followed up on this.
- Teletransportation Revisited:
- Baillie now considers the application of Brennan’s analysis on T1-6:-
- T1: TT is a copying process; I am the prototype for my replica, in which I survive.
- T2: Much as in T1; however, here I survive twice over, in my original body and in my replica.
- T3: Similar to crystalline pseuodomorphism. Forces us to choose between the R-relation and the S-relation and, within the S-relation, whether mental or physical structures are more important.
- T4: Follows on from our prioritisation decisions in T3. Both T3 and T4 can be considered as copying, which comes in degrees.
- T5: As T1.
- T6: This is an example of “botched copying”. Immediately after TT there’s a high degree of structural, material and causal continuity, so Brundle survives in Brundlefly to a high degree. Then things start to go wrong, but because the changes are gradual, with continuity between stages, and not caused randomly, Baillie views the mutation as analogous to natural ones such as caterpillar to butterfly.
- The lessons Baillie thinks we should learn are:-
- We have to prioritise: is the Matter or the Structure condition more important. Structure comes at different levels, which also have to be prioritised.
- Structure features at the psychological as well as the physical level, so we can bring the two relations closer together. Normally, psychological structure rests on physical structure (of the brain); TT breaks the link (allegedly).
- “Survival in” is a matter of degree, according to how good a copy my replicas are. So, T1/5, T2, T3, T4 is a descending sequence of decreasingly faithful copies with consequent reduced degrees of “survival in”.
- We have various priorities in survival: gross physical appearance is important, though we would not be averse to improvements. The highest priority is psychological continuity.
- Baillie jumps ship rather abruptly from support of Wiggins to support of Parfit and Brennan. He thinks relations R and S give us all that matters, and that when their benefits are subtracted from those of strict identity, we’re left with nothing. Since the S-relation is sortal-free, we’re liberated from some of Wiggins’s problem cases.
- Baillie doesn’t seem to spend any time distinguishing surviving in and surviving as, nor distinguishing either of these from classical survival.
- This is so in his failure to draw a distinction between the two senses of survival in T2; I suspect equivocation.
- Why does Baillie choose the analogy of Pseudomorphism, when he could have chosen fossilisation (whereby organic matter is replaced by inorganic, though gross structure is retained)?
- Is there any principled way of prioritising the various conditions in accord with which the S and R relations give us “what matters”?
- Baillie doesn’t consider whether I’d be happy with surviving in a replica that betrayed psychological improvements. The Christian account of resurrection is of one involving all sorts of improvements, both physical and mental. My resurrection body is supposed not to be subject to death and decay, nor to provide the physical temptations our earthly bodies have, and we are not supposed to have moral defects. We are also supposed then to “know as we are known (by God)”, so there are supposed to be all sorts of cognitive benefits. Now, to what degree (according to Baillie and Brennan) would I survive in my resurrection body? If to a low degree, because of the discontinuities of structure, matter and causation, would I nevertheless not have what matters?
- Do the S- and R-relations really give what matters in the absence of strict identity? It seems that (selfishly-speaking) I would have nothing that matters in the absence of strict identity, because I wouldn’t be. The delusion is that of thinking there would be something it is like for me to be when I am not. The R-relation is seductive, because replicas looking back feel just like me; but there’s nothing it is like for me going forward. But, as noted above, it is difficult to demonstrate this.
- I wasn’t entirely clear on the principled reasons Baillie had for preferring Parfit/Brennan over Wiggins: it seemed to be a matter of convenience. He doesn’t grapple in the least with their arguments for their approaches.
- I wasn’t clear that Baillie should have been as happy as he appears that T6 fits his schema. Brundlefly ends up with no mental predicates. The way the case appears in the film, it’s as though the post-TT Brundle has the genetic structure of a fly, and that it’s the outworking of this genetic program that leads to the horror. Cellular maintenance moves the soma inexorably fly-wards. As such, it’s like a T3.5: a T3/T4 hybrid, but with a T4 in which no-one would consider they had what matters.
- If this is the case, and Brundle’s gross somatic structure remains the same post TT, but his DNA is now fly-DNA, has he changed kind? Is he now a fly who’s trapped in a human body, and whose genes express themselves in a fly-manner? If so, according to Wiggins we cannot have identity as we have a change of sortal. We appear to have physical and psychological continuity (and even causal connectedness). Yet we don’t. The TT leaves a gap, and there’s nothing it’s like for Brundle to exist as Brundlefly. Brundle’s consciousness (his first-person perspective) ceases the moment TT is complete, and Brundlefly is a replica created ex nihilo using information from Brundle’s gross somatic structure and a fly’s genetic structure. Maybe Brundle “survives in” Brundlefly, but Brundle doesn’t survive as such, and has nothing that matters to him, however briefly.
- Is Identity Sortal-Relative? :
- Baillie refers to Locke’s prince and cobbler TE, wherein a is allegedly the same person, but not the same man as b. This is also allegedly the case in T3 above. We have, where f = “is a MAN” and g = “is a PERSON”:-
a Not=f b & a =g b & (f(a) & Not-f(b) & g(a) & g(b)).
Baillie thinks this brings tension into his philosophical likes. The most basic answer to the “what am I5?” question is HUMAN BEING, yet what matters is the R-relation, which is more important than bodily survival or even species-membership.
- He says tension is inevitable in TEs far from our normal experience. Because the T3 case doesn’t involve relative identity, his theory is self-consistent.
- Note: Baillie doesn’t remark that relative identity is incoherent. Not that this matters here, as we don’t have a case of relative identity, which only applies to (pairs of) substance-concepts. PERSON isn’t a substance-concept, so isn’t in conflict with HUMAN BEING, which is. Baillie does agree with this.
- Note: What does “same x” mean when x does not fall under a substance concept? What sort of thing are persons if they do not fall under substance-concepts? It sounds as though we can treat the reference of “person” in two ways:-
- As a de re reference to an individual falling under a substance-sortal (usually HUMAN BEING), with the implication that that individual possesses an open-ended collection of psychological properties. In that sense, a is the same person as b just means that a is the same human being as b, and both a and b are persons.
- As a reference to a personality, which I take to be the set of psychological predicates themselves. I imagine this set must contain a structuring, so is more than a mathematical collection. It must also allow for temporal development (for the development of character and mental capacities, and for the gaining and loss of memories, and so on, open-endedly). Hence “a isn’t the same person he used to be” is a complaint that the psychological predicates of the human being a have changed unacceptably.
- Note: The above is from a third person perspective. From a first person perspective, I claim to continue the same person because of the continuity of, well, my first person perspective – my window on the world and on myself. I claim that this window gets smashed in all cases where the brain that is responsible for it is destroyed (ie. in all cases T1 – T6, other than the branch-line of T2).
- Appendix: Discontinuous Persons? :
- Baillie considers temporarily dismantled artefacts (a watch for example). He claims that as there are no principles of activity for a watch, and no real essence, it not falling under a natural-kind concept, that it’s mere linguistic convention that makes the reassembled watch the same as the one prior to cleaning. There would be no utility in alternative views, however.
- Baillie considers that there are analogous cases for particulars falling under natural-kind concepts, such as human beings. He considers:-
- A worm cut in half and re-attached by microsurgery is the same worm.
- No issues of identity arise in the case of a severed arm being re-attached to a human being.
- The same is true should (parts of) my brain be removed, repaired, and microsurgically re-attached.
- There are a couple of critical points in the third example above:-
- Where was I between brain-removal and reassembly (eg. on the “where my brain is, there go I”, view)?
- If the corpus callosum is severed and the cortex divided, what are the implications for identity? Baillie’s view is that if this entails the failure of identity (because of its 1:1 structure), so much the worse for the importance of identity in this context – all that matters is the S-relation.
- If the watch’s identity changed after the watch was dismantled, the watch-repairer would not be bound to return it to it’s owner, as it would not be the same watch the owner deposited.
- I agree with Baillie’s assessment of his test cases. In the case of a severed corpus callosum, I suspect that there is just a reduced amount of psychological integrity (with external cues enabling the hemispheres to exchange information). I also suspect that part-brains are insufficient to maintain a first-person perspective. However, this is a purely empirical matter, and it may be that once the facts are known it will still be possible to come up with problem cases. I’m not yet clear what I should say of the case where half-brain transfers are self-consciousness-preserving: retreat to perdurantism and shared person-stages, I think.
- "Kagan (Shelly) - Death: Course introduction" (Lecture 11) mentions a TE on resurrection due to Van Inwagen (but not referenced) whereby an analogy is made with a child’s tower and a father who accidentally knocked it over and then rebuilt it. Is the rebuilt tower the child’s tower? No – because the only point of interest in the tower is that the child built it. Maybe there are analogies between this tower and the bodies and psychologies that we have falteringly built, and that can’t be rebuilt by a more competent architect and remain the very same psychologies and bodies. I’d be interested to know just what Van Inwagen had to say.
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Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note
|Baker (Lynne Rudder)
||What Am I?
||Thesis - Persistent Vegetative State
||Thesis - Universals
References & Reading List
||Aspects of Non-Reductionism
||Paper - Cited
||Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity, 1993, Chapter 3
||Identity and Survival
||Paper - Cited
||Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity, 1993, Chapter 2
||Paper - Cited
||Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity, 1993, Chapter 6
||Paper - Cited
||Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity, 1993, Chapter 5
||Problems in Personal Identity
||Book - Cited (via Paper Cited)
||Bibliographical details to be supplied
||Problems in Personal Identity: Introduction
||Paper - Cited
||Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity, 1993, Chapter 1
||What Am I?
||Paper - Cited
||Baillie (James) - Problems in Personal Identity, 1993, Chapter 4
||Conditions of Identity
||Book - Cited
||Brennan (Andrew) - Conditions of Identity
||Book - Cited (via Paper Cited)
||Bibliographical details to be supplied
||Death: Course introduction
||Paper - Cited
||Open Yale Courses, 2007
|Lovibond (Sabina) & Williams (S.G.)
||Identity, Truth & Value: Essays for David Wiggins
||Book - Cited (via Paper Cited)
||Bibliographical details to be supplied
||Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity
||Book - Cited
||Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity
||Reply to Snowdon (Persons and Personal Identity)
||Paper - Cited
||Lovibond & Williams - Identity, Truth & Value: Essays for David Wiggins, 1996
||Sameness and Substance
||Book - Cited
||Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance
||Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments
||Book - Cited
||Wilkes (Kathleen) - Real People: Personal Identity Without Thought Experiments
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