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Personal Identity

Biological Criterion

(Text as at 27/06/2011 18:57:36)

(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)


This is the criterion1 of identity associated with the biological view2 of what we human beings3 are.

Animalism4 takes this biological view, that we are human animals (as distinct from persons5, or immaterial souls6). So, our persistence criteria are those of animals. What will fall under this Note is just what these criteria are.

Biological identity criteria in general are slightly wider than those of animals in particular, as they include those for plants and other biological organisms7.

Locke8 made the first stab at what this criterion might be. His view was that it was the participation in a single life9 that made an organism the same organism over time. The concept of a life is itself in need of explanation, and may not (in the absence of vitalism) be logically prior to the concept of an organism.

It seems to me that the biological criterion could (theoretically, at least) allow for metamorphosis10 (provided that the metamorphosis is into another organism). There are, however, sortal11 objections to metamorphosis.

This is a place-holder12. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list below. This list is in need of pruning and further research. It is somewhat arbitrary as to which books / papers fall under this topic, and which under Biological View13 or Animalism14.

The primary text addressing this topic is"Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities".



Printable Versions:



Previous Version of this Note:

Date Length Title
25/05/2010 15:05:46 84 Biological Criterion



Note last updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
27/06/2011 18:57:36 Biological Criterion Logic of Identity

Summary of Note Links from this Page

Animalism Awaiting Attention (Personal Identity) Biological View Criteria of Identity Human Beings
Life Locke Metamorphosis Organisms Person
Sortals Souls      

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




Summary of Note Links to this Page

Biological View Body Criterion      

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 - Biological Criterion Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Biological View Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Body Criterion Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes



References & Reading List

Author Title Medium Source Read?
Campbell (Courtney S.) A No-Brainer: Criticisms of Brain-Based Standards of Death Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Oct. 2001 26.5, pp. 539-551 No
Conway Morris (Simon) Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe Book - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Conway Morris (Simon) - Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe 5%
Corcoran (Kevin) Biology or Psychology? Human Persons and Personal Identity Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Petrus - On Human Persons, 2003 Yes
DeGrazia (David) Human Identity and Bioethics Book - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract DeGrazia (David) - Human Identity and Bioethics 10%
Fetzer (James) The Evolution of Intelligence: Are Humans the Only Animals with Minds? Book - Referenced Medium Quality Abstract Fetzer (James) - The Evolution of Intelligence: Are Humans the Only Animals with Minds? 3%
Green (Michael) & Wikler (Daniel) Brain Death and Personal Identity Paper - By Subtopic High Quality Abstract Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1980, 105-133 Yes
Kitts (David B.) & Kitts (David J.) Biological Species as Natural Kinds Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Philosophy of Science 46, No. 4 (Dec., 1979), pp. 613-622 No
Konner (Melvin) The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit Book - By Subtopic Konner (Melvin) - The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit No
Olson (Eric) Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 13 (Olson) Book - By Subtopic (via Paper By Subtopic) Low Quality Abstract Olson (Eric) - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 13 (Olson) 21%
Olson (Eric) Review of Jack Wilson's 'Biological Individuality: The Identity and Persistence of Living Entities' Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Philosophical Quarterly, 2001, Vol. 51 Issue 203, p264-6 No
Olson (Eric) The Biological Approach Paper - By Subtopic Low Quality Abstract The Human Animal, September 1999, Chapter 6, pp. 124-153 Yes
Olson (Eric) The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology Book - Referenced Low Quality Abstract Olson (Eric) - The Human Animal - Personal Identity Without Psychology Yes
Olson (Eric) What are We? Book - Referenced Medium Quality Abstract Olson (Eric) - What are We? 57%
Petrus (Klaus), Ed. On Human Persons Book - By Subtopic (via Paper By Subtopic) High Quality Abstract Petrus (Klaus), Ed. - On Human Persons 98%
Ruse (Michael) Biological Species: Natural Kinds, Individuals, or What? Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38, No. 2 (Jun., 1987), pp. 225-242 No
Shoemaker (David) Personal Identity and Ethics - Conclusion: Notes on Method Paper - By Subtopic High Quality Abstract Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction, 2009, Conclusion Yes
Shoemaker (David) Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction Book - By Subtopic (via Paper By Subtopic) Low Quality Abstract Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction Yes
Shoemaker (David) Personal Identity and Moral Responsibility Paper - By Subtopic Low Quality Abstract Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction, 2009, Chapter 7 Yes
Shoemaker (David) Personal Identity, Rational Anticipation, and Self-Concern Paper - By Subtopic High Quality Abstract Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction, 2009, Chapter 2 Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Biological Criterion Paper - Referencing Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Wilson (Jack) Beyond Horses and Oak Trees: A New Theory of Individuation for Living Entities Paper - By Subtopic High Quality Abstract Wilson, Jack - Biological Individuality: The identity and Persistence of Living Entities; 1999, Chap. 1, pp. 1-21 Yes
Wilson (Jack) Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities Book - Cited Low Quality Abstract Wilson (Jack) - Biological Individuality - The identity and Persistence of Living Entities Yes
Wilson (Jack) Generation and Corruption Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Wilson, Jack - Biological Individuality: The identity and Persistence of Living Entities; 1999, Chap. 5, pp. 86-104 Yes
Wilson (Jack) Identity and Sortals: Why Relative Identity Is Self-Contradictory Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Wilson, Jack - Biological Individuality: The identity and Persistence of Living Entities; 1999, Appendix, pp. 119-126 Yes
Wilson (Jack) Individuality and Equivocation Paper - By Subtopic High Quality Abstract Wilson, Jack - Biological Individuality: The identity and Persistence of Living Entities; 1999, Chap. 3, pp. 48-68 Yes
Wilson (Jack) Personal Identity Naturalized: Our Bodies, Our Selves Paper - By Subtopic High Quality Abstract Wilson, Jack - Biological Individuality: The identity and Persistence of Living Entities; 1999, Chap. 6, pp. 105-118 Yes
Wilson (Jack) The Biological and Philosophical Roots of Individuality Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Wilson, Jack - Biological Individuality: The identity and Persistence of Living Entities; 1999, Chap. 2, pp. 22-47 Yes
Wilson (Jack) The Necessity of Biological Origin and Substantial Kinds Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Wilson, Jack - Biological Individuality: The identity and Persistence of Living Entities; 1999, Chap. 4, pp. 69-81 Yes
Wrangham (Richard) Review of 'The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit' by Melvin Konner Paper - By Subtopic Evolutionary Psychology: human-nature.com/ep – 2004. 2: 3-6 No



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  1. Black: Printable Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018




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