Eric Olson and David Shoemaker argue that our numerical identity over time is irrelevant to such practical issues as moral responsibility or self-concern. Being the same individual at different moments in time may, in our case, can be seen as the preservation of the relevant biological processes (e.g., according to Olson), while psychological continuity, independent of these processes, may be crucial for such issues. I will defend the view that, contrary to the above authors, any conception of our diachronic identity (...) has ethical implications, at least with regard to the aforementioned issues. My argument has two basic assumptions. (1) The dispute over identity of persons is a dispute over the conditions of our persistence in time as the same individuals, whether we consider being a person as our essential property or not (e.g., Olson maintains the latter). The question is under what conditions I am the same as a particular earlier or later individual. (2) The pronoun “I,” on the other hand, is an essential component of practical reasoning, so also of ethical one. Thus, the debate on the persistence of persons concerns the identity conditions of the individuals to whom/which we refer when planning our future actions, formulating our intentions. My rational self-concern or my moral responsibility for past actions regards the individual to whom the pronoun refers. An additional result of my argument is to undermine the influential strategy of defending positions on our diachronic identity against the charge of controversial ethical implications. It cannot be argued in the case of every such controversy that a given ethical issue only apparently involves our identity, while in fact what is relevant to it is a different relation binding persons at different moments in time. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue for what I call the extended existential passage hypothesis, which entails, for example, that even if reality contains nothing supernatural and if property dualism is true, then death is not the end of a person’s stream of consciousness, that is, a person’s stream of consciousness continues at the moment of death, devoid of his or her memories and personality traits, as the stream of consciousness of another person (or another being) who is conceived and gains (...) consciousness. I articulate two requirements of rational choice that follow from that hypothesis. (shrink)
This paper is primarily about metaphysics; specifically, about a Cartesian view of the self, according to which it is a simple, enduring, non-material entity.I take a critical look at Nida-Rümelin’s novel conceptual arguments for this view and argue that they don’t give us decisive reasons to uphold the Cartesian view. But in Nida-Rümelin’s view, what is at stake in these arguments is not merely theoretical: the truth – and our beliefs about it – has practical consequences as well. In her (...) view, if the Cartesian simple view of the self were false, we would have no reason to love and care for family and friends, and our special interest in our own future would be pointless. In the last section of this paper, I will say something about the sense in which it is right and the sense in which it is wrong to think that the metaphysics of the self has broader relevance for our lives. (shrink)
Derek Parfit argues that fission is prudentially better for you than ordinary death. But is having more fission products with good lives prudentially better for you than having just one? In this paper, we argue that it is. We argue that, if your brain is split and the halves are transplanted into two recipients, then it is prudentially better for you if both transplants succeed than if only one of them does. This upshot rules out, among other things, that the (...) prudential value of standing in the relation that matters in survival to multiple people is equal to their average well-being. (shrink)
According to Longtermism, our acts’ expected influence on the expected value of the world is mainly determined by their effects in the far future. There is, given total utilitarianism, a straightforward argument for Longtermism due to the enormous number of people that might exist in the future, but this argument does not work on person-affecting views. In this paper, we will argue that these views might also lead to Longtermism if Prudential Longtermism is true. Prudential Longtermism holds for a person (...) if and only if our acts’ overall influence on that person’s expected well-being is mainly determined by the acts’ effects in the far future. We argue that (due to a small chance of anti-ageing and uploading) there could be an enormous amount of prudential value for some contemporary person in the far future and that value may be so large that it dominates their overall expectation of lifetime well-being. (shrink)
According to conventionalist or conativist views about personal-identity, utterances of personal-identity sentences express propositions that are, in part, made true by the conative attitudes of relevant persons-stages. In this paper I introduce assessor relative conativism: the view that a personal-identity proposition can be true when evaluated at one person-stage’s context and false when evaluated at another person-stage’s context, because person-stages have different patterns of conative attitudes. I present several reasons to embrace assessor relative conativism over its more familiar realiser relative (...) cousin. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that standard psychological continuity theory does not account for an important feature of what is important in survival – having the property of personhood. I offer a theory that can account for this, and I explain how it avoids the implausible consequences of standard psychological continuity theory, as well as having certain other advantages over that theory.
ABSTRACT I motivate ‘Origin Conventionalism’—the view that which facts about one’s origins are essential to one’s existence depends partly on our person-directed attitudes. One important upshot is that the view offers a novel and attractive solution to the Nonidentity Problem. That problem typically assumes that the sperm-egg pair from which a person originates is essential to that person’s existence; in which case, for many future persons that come into existence under adverse conditions, had those conditions not been realized, the individuals (...) wouldn’t have existed. This is problematic because it delivers the counter-intuitive conclusion that it’s not wrong to bring about such adverse conditions since they don’t harm anyone. Origin Conventionalism, in contrast, holds that whether a person’s sperm-egg origin is essential to their existence depends on their person-directed attitudes. I argue that this provides a unique and attractive way of preserving the intuition that the actions in the ‘nonidentity cases’ are morally wrong because of the potential harm done to the individuals in question. (shrink)
This paper offers an overview of the ways agents might extend over time and the characteristic structure of extended human agency. Agency can extend in two distinct but combinable modes: the ontological, which gives rise to simple continuous agents; and the conceptual, which gives rise to agents who conceive of and care about distal times, and have minimal planning abilities. Our extended form of agency combines both. But we are still limited by the temporal locality in the operation of our (...) psychological and executive powers. To account for this locality, I introduce the notion of 'temporal selves,' as the loci of immediacy in the agent's determination of their psychology, conduct, and practical standpoint. I argue that the passage of time generates, by itself, the threat of temporal alienation from distant temporal selves. A genuinely extended agency requires temporal identification: the sharing, by separate temporal selves, of a temporally extended and integrated practical standpoint. This temporal identification cannot be produced simply by temporal identity as continuity. What is required is temporal identity in the mode of unity and integration. This identity does not precede temporal identification but is co-constituted with it. I offer a preliminary account of the structure of the units of integration for agents who aspire to persist in the mode of unity and integration. I close with a cautionary note: the complex structure of integration, although familiar in everyday life, is often missed by standard philosophical accounts, which tend to focus on simple models of extended agency. (shrink)
I am a person. But am I fundamentally and essentially a person? The animalist says no. So must the phenomenal continuity theorist, or so I will argue. Even if, contra animalism, we cannot survive zombification, being a subject of experience is not sufficient for being a person, and phenomenal continuity is not sufficient for our survival as the same person over time. These observations point the way to a positive account of personhood, and provide further insight into the conditions under (...) which literal survival preserves what matters. (shrink)
On many currently popular ontologies of material objects, we share our place with numerous shorter-lived things that came into existence after we did or will go out of existence before we will. Subpeople are intrinsically indistinguishable from possible people, and as several authors pointed out, this raises grave ethical concerns: it threatens to make any sacrifice for long-term goals impermissible, as well as to undermine our standard practices of punishment, reward, grief, and utility calculation. The aim in this paper is (...) to offer a unified set of solutions to these problems. The paper’s starting point is the "self-making view," according to which our de se beliefs help determine our own spatiotemporal boundaries. This paper argues that the self-making view also plays a key role in the best treatment of the moral problems of subpeople. (shrink)
According to the Psychological-Continuity Account of What Matters, you are justified in having special concern for the well-being of a person at a future time if and only if that person will be psychologically continuous with you as you are now. On some versions of the account, the psychological continuity is required be temporally ordered, whereas, on other versions, it is allowed to be temporally unordered. In this paper, I argue that the account is implausible if the psychological continuity is (...) allowed to be temporally unordered. I also argue that, if the psychological continuity is required to be temporally ordered, it cannot plausibly be purely psychological (in the sense that the psychological continuity is not required to be caused through spatio-temporal continuity of a brain). The upshot is that no plausible version of the Psychological-Continuity Account of What Matters is purely psychological. So psychological continuity is not what matters in survival. (shrink)
En este ensayo, evaluaremos el problema de la identidad personal en el contexto del transhumanismo. En primer lugar, en contra de la tesis de que el transhumanismo representa una amenaza a la persistencia de la identidad personal argumentaremos lo siguiente: los individuos humanos que son personas no tienen características esenciales. En segundo lugar, con la ayuda del primer episodio de la segunda temporada de la serie de ciencia ficción Black Mirror, defenderemos la tesis de que hay propiedades que realmente importan (...) en el problema de la identidad personal: las propiedades relacionales(esta tesis tiene como consecuencia que nuestros seres queridos son irremplazables, incluso por duplicados exactos). Finalmente, concluiremos que el uso de las tecnologías de mejoramiento humano no representa una amenaza a la identidad personal de un individuo en tanto que no altera sus propiedades relacionales importantes. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that reflection on the patterns of practical concern that agents like us exhibit strongly suggests that the same person relation comes in continuous degrees rather than being an all or nothing matter. We call this the SP-degree thesis. Though the SP-degree thesis is consistent with a range of views about personal-identity, we argue that combining desire-first approaches to personal-identity with the SP-degree thesis better explains our patterns of practical concern, and hence gives us reason to (...) endorse such an approach. We then argue that the combination of the SP-degree thesis and the desire-first approach are best modelled by a stage-theoretic view of persistence according to which temporal counterpart relations are non-symmetric relations that come in continuous degrees. Ultimately, we think that the overall appeal of this package of views provides reason to accept the package: reasons that outstrip the reasons we have to endorse any particular member of the package. (shrink)
Theoria, EarlyView. Henry Pollock, in “Parfit's Fission Dilemma: Why Relation R Doesn't Matter”, examines the options available to Parfit for defending his “argument from below” from Johnstonʼs reductio objection. Pollock argues that Parfitʼs proposed defence against Johnston fails. In this article, I argue that Pollockʼs objections to Parfitʼs defence can be resisted.
Derek Parfit famously argued that personal identity is not what matters for prudential concern about the future. Instead, he argues what matters is Relation R, a combination of psychological connectedness and continuity with any cause. This revisionary conclusion, Parfit argued, has profound implications for moral theory. It should lead us, among other things, to deny the importance of the separateness of persons as an important fact of morality. Instead, we should adopt impersonal consequentialism. In this paper, I argue that Parfit (...) is mistaken about this last step. His revisionary arguments about personal identity and rationality have no implications for moral theory. We need not decide whether Relation R or personal identity contain what matters if we want to retain the importance of the separateness of persons. (shrink)
Spesso i filosofi paiono pensare di poter trarre conclusioni radicali sulla base di una semplice discussione di scenari immaginari, scenari che a volte sembrerebbero tratti da un racconto di fantascienza. Questo stile argomentativo lascia molti studenti (e anche alcuni filosofi di professione) perplessi: come può il semplice riflettere su di uno scenario immaginario permetterci di trarre conclusioni su come stanno le cose nella realtà? Questo volume cerca di giustificare l'uso di esperimenti mentali in filosofia, concentrandosi su due casi studio, entrambi (...) tratti dalla letteratura sull'identità personale: la trasformazione di un essere umano in un'entità sintetica, e la divisione di una persona in due individui distinti. (shrink)
abstractBy appealing to the similarity between pre-vital and post-mortem nonexistence, Lucretius famously tried to show that our anxiety about death was irrational. His so-called Symmetry Argument has been attacked in various ways, but all of these strategies are themselves problematic. In this paper, I propose a new approach to undermining the argument: when Parfit’s distinction between identity and what matters is applied, not diachronically but across possible worlds, the alleged symmetry can be broken. Although the pre-vital and posthumous time spans (...) that we could have experienced are indeed analogous with respect to our identity, they are not analogous with respect to psychological continuity, which forms the basis of prudential concern. Lucretius even anticipated the Parfitian distinction. He did not, however, notice the significance that it has for his Symmetry Argument. (shrink)
Your replica is created on Mars and you, on Earth, are destroyed. Parfit claims that your replica may still have what prudentially matters for you – provided that you are psychologically connected and continuous with your replica. If someone accidentally destroys the tapes containing your psychological profile used in the production of your replica and this same action fortuitously produces a functionally equivalent tape, Ehring claims that Parfit should maintain that the resulting new individual may still have what matters. Nihilism (...) about what matters follows, or so Ehring claims. I argue that Ehring is wrong and that the difference between the two ways of creating a replica is not trivial – there is no trivial survival. (shrink)
One of Parfit’s arguments for the thesis that identity never matters involves generalizing from “divergence” cases in which identity arguably does not matter. The primary divergence case for Parfit is fission. According to Parfit’s assessment, it is not true that the fissioner gets what matters with respect to either fissionee by way of being identical to each fissionee but does so by way of the M-relation, psychological continuity with its normal cause, the persistence of enough of the brain. The same (...) is true in all other divergence cases by Parfit’s accounting. Parfit generalizes. From (E) Whenever M and identity diverged, it would be M that mattered, not identity. Parfit infers (F) Whenever M and identity diverge and even when these relations coincide, it is M that matters, not identity. In this paper, I challenge the inference from (E) to (F). (shrink)
Derek Parfit’s argument against the platitude that identity is what matters in survival does not work given his intended reading of the platitude, namely, that what matters in survival to some future time is being identical with someone who is alive at that time. I develop Parfit’s argument so that it works against the platitude on this intended reading.
Many of those working on moral responsibility assume that "once blameworthy, always blameworthy." They believe that blameworthiness is like diamonds: it is forever. We argue that blameworthiness is not forever; rather, it can diminish through time. We begin by showing that the view that blameworthiness is forever is best understood as the claim that personal identity is sufficient for diachronic blameworthiness. We argue that this view should be rejected because it entails that blameworthiness for past action is completely divorced from (...) the distinctive psychological features of the person at the later time. This is because on none of the leading accounts of personal identity does identity require the preservation of any distinctive psychological features, but merely requires some form of continuity. The claim that blameworthiness is forever should therefore be rejected. We then sketch an account of blameworthiness over time, and consider two objections. (shrink)
According to philosophers who ground your anticipation of future experiences in psychological continuity and connectedness, it is rational to anticipate the experiences of someone other than yourself, such as a self that is the product of fission or of replication. In this article, I concur that it is rational to anticipate the experiences of the product of fission while denying the rationality of anticipating the experiences of a replica. In defending my position, I offer the following explanation of why you (...) have good reason to anticipate the experiences of your post-fission successor but not your replica: in the former case, you become somebody else, whereas, in the latter case, you are merely replaced by somebody else. (shrink)
Various debates on the desirability and rationality of life-extending enhancements have been pursued under the presupposition that a generic psychological theory of personal identity is correct. I here discuss how the narrative approach to personal identity can contribute to these debates. In particular, I argue that two versions of the narrative approach offer good reasons to reject an argument against the rationality of life-extending enhancements.
‘Soul’, ‘self’, ‘substance’ and ‘person’ are just four of the terms often used to refer to the human individual. Cutting across metaphysics, ethics, and religion the nature of personal identity is a fundamental and long-standing puzzle in philosophy. Personal Identity and Applied Ethics introduces and examines different conceptions of the self, our nature, and personal identity and considers the implications of these for applied ethics. A key feature of the book is that it considers a range of different approaches to (...) personal identity; philosophical, religious, and cross-cultural, including perspectives from non-Western traditions. Within this comparative framework, Andrea Sauchelli examines the following topics: -Early views of the soul in Plato, Christianity, and Descartes -The Buddhist ‘no-self’ views and the self as a fiction -Confucian ideas of our nature and the importance of self-cultivation as constitutive of the self -Locke’s theory of personal identity as continuity of consciousness and memory and objections to Locke’s argument by Butler and Reid as well as contemporary critics -The theory of ‘animalism’ and arguments concerning embodied concepts of personal identity -Practical and narrative theories of personal identity and moral agency -Personal identity and issues in applied ethics, including abortion, organ transplantation, and the idea of life after death -Implications of life-extending technologies for personal identity. Throughout the book Sauchelli also considers the views of important recent philosophers of personal identity such as Sydney Shoemaker, Bernard Williams, Derek Parfit, Marya Schechtman, and Christine Korsgaard, placing these in helpful historical context. Chapter summaries, a glossary of key terms, and suggestions for further reading make this a refreshing, approachable introduction to personal identity and applied ethics. It is an ideal text for courses on personal identity that consider both Western and non-Western approaches and that apply theories of personal identity to ethical problems. It will also be of interest to those in related subjects such as religious studies and history of ideas. (shrink)
In der Diskussion um personale Identität nehmen die einflussreichen Arbeiten Derek Parfits eine Sonderstellung ein, insofern Parfit nicht bestrebt ist, eines der gängigen Identitätskriterien zu verteidigen, sondern vielmehr behauptet, dass unsere alltäglichen wie philosophischen Vorstellungen von personaler Identität unrettbar inkohärent sind und deshalb aufgegeben werden sollten. In seinem Beitrag beleuchtet Sascha Settegast die verschiedenen Argumente, die Parfit für diese provokante These vorbringt, und unternimmt insbesondere den Versuch einer systematischen Dekonstruktion der wichtigsten Gedankenexperimente Parfits, die zeigen soll, dass sich diese Gedankenexperimente (...) auf eine Weise auflösen lassen, die unsere alltäglichen Intuitionen über personale Identität intakt belässt. Settegast entwickelt dabei die Grundzüge einer Konzeption personaler Identität, die sich einerseits von den gängigen neo-lockeanischen und animalistischen Ansätzen abgrenzt und andererseits bewusst an den zeitgenössischen Neo-Aristotelismus in der Ethik anknüpft, wie er etwa bei Philippa Foot und Michael Thomp-son anzutreffen ist. Die diachrone numerische Identität menschlicher Personen gründet nach Settegasts Auffassung darin, dass der Verlauf ihres Lebens eine zeitliche Einheit aufweist, die dadurch bedingt ist, dass ihre Lebensführung die menschliche Lebensform auf eine individuell charakteristische Weise exemplifiziert. Insofern dies aber nur durch Kultivierung der Tugen-den zu erreichen ist, handelt es sich laut Settegast bei personaler Identität letztlich nicht um eine Tatsache, die einfach vorliegt oder nicht, sondern um eine Aufgabe, die uns als Menschen gegeben ist und wesentlich darin besteht, in bewusster Orientierung auf das gute Leben hin ein stabiles, sich zeitlich durchhaltendes Selbst allererst auszubilden. (shrink)
Many philosophers hypothesize that our concept of personal identity is partly constituted by the one-person-one-place rule, which states that a person can only be in one place at a time. This hypothesis has been assumed by the most influential contemporary work on personal identity. In this paper, we report a series of studies testing whether the hypothesis is true. In these studies, people consistently judged that the same person existed in two different places at the same time. This result undermines (...) some widely held philosophical assumptions, supports others, and fits well with recent discoveries on identity judgments about inanimate objects and non-human animals. (shrink)
Samuel Scheffler defends “The Afterlife Conjecture”: the view that the continued existence of humanity after our deaths—“the afterlife”—lies in the background of our valuing; were we to lose confidence in it, many of the projects we engage in would lose their meaning. The Afterlife Conjecture, in his view, also brings out the limits of our egoism, showing that we care more about yet unborn strangers than about personal survival. But why does the afterlife itself matter to us? Examination of Scheffler’s (...) second argument helps answer this question, thereby undermining his argument. Our concern for the afterlife involves bootstrapping: we care more about the afterlife than about personal survival precisely because the latter has such salient limits that our lives are structured by adaptation to mortality, and it is only because the afterlife does provide a measure of personal survival that it can give meaning to our projects. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a dilemma for those who believe in the afterlife: either we won’t survive death (or an eternal life) in the sense that most matters to us or we will become bored if we do. First, I argue that even if we – in a strict sense – survive death, there is practical sense in which we don’t survive death. This applies, I contend, to all accounts of the afterlife that: eventually, we lose our practical identity. (...) I show that our practical identity is more important to us than our numerical identity. But, as we’ll see, our practical identity is not just lost in an afterlife, but also with an eternal or immortal life. Theists have a strategy to resist this line of argument: they can argue that God will help us to retain our current practical identities. However, those that pursue this line of argument fall onto the second horn of my proposed dilemma: if we cannot change our practical identities then it seems that eventually we will become bored, and eternally so. (shrink)
Derek Parfit’s thesis that identity doesn’t matter in survival has been extensively discussed except for its metaphysical robustness. How can we justify the abandonment of identity in the way Parfit suggests? My argument is the following. Those who want to endorse the thesis that identity doesn’t matter (and, therefore, abandon identity across time) should adopt exdurantism, i.e. a metaphysics according to which the world is composed by temporal parts each existing at a time and according to which there is nothing (...) as a numerically same entity which exists at different times. I show that the metaphysics behind Parfit’s theory is neither compatible with endurantism, according to which object persists by being wholly present at different times, nor with perdurantism, according to which entities are aggregates of temporal and spatial parts. (shrink)
Several attractive principles about prudential concern and moral responsibility seem to speak against animalism. I criticize some animalist responses to this kind of problem, and suggest another answer, which has similarites with the most important argument in favor of animalism: the “thinking animal” argument.
It is not the case that there is only one literal sense of “same person.” When presented in different contexts, “she is/is not the same person” can have different answers concerning the same entity or set of entities across the same period of time. This is because: Persons are composed of many parts, and different parts have different persistence conditions. This follows from a reductionist view of the self. When we ask about sameness of persons, or “personal identity,” we are (...) asking because of certain practical concerns. Different concerns will look to the persistence of different parts of the person for criteria of sameness. No single criterion of sameness tracks all concerns. By combining reductionism with contextualism, the disparate answers to the personal identity question can be clarified without losing the practical concerns motivating them. (shrink)
I develop an argument that believing in the survivability of a mind uploading procedure conveys value to its believers that is assessable independently of assessing the truth of the belief. Regardless of whether the first-order metaphysical belief is true, believing it conveys a kind of Darwinian fitness to the believer. Of course, a further question remains of whether having that Darwinian property can be a basis—in a rational sense of being a basis—for one’s holding the belief. I’ll also make some (...) remarks in the present article toward answering that latter question. (shrink)
Persons care about their future selves. They reason about their future selves’ interests; they plan for their future selves’ happiness and they worry about their future selves’ suffering. This paper is interested in the interplay between diachronic prudential reason and certain accounts of the metaphysics of personal identity that fall under the broad umbrella ‘conventionalist’. Some conventionalists conclude that under certain conditions there are intractable decisions for there is no fact of the matter regarding whether a person-stage ought (prudentially) to (...) ϕ. This paper will suggest otherwise. These decisions are not intractable if we allow that it is sometimes rational for a person-stage to discount the utility of certain future person-stages. The paper then goes on to explore an alternative position that conventionalists might occupy which does not involve any such discounting: prudential relativism. According to prudential relativism it is impossible to offer a single, correct, answer to the question: should person-stage, P, ϕ at t? For according to prudential relativism there is no stage-independent stance from which to evaluate whether a person-stage ought to ϕ. Yet it is not, for all that, intractable, from P’s perspective, whether or not to ϕ. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that, if your “day self” and “night self” are physically, psychologically, and narratively continuous with each other, then they are the same unit of moral concern. But I argue that your day self and night self can share all of these relations and still be different units of moral concern, on the grounds that they can share all of these relations and still be in the circumstances of justice. I then argue that this conception of the scope (...) of morality has revisionary, but ultimately plausible, implications for the morality of self-binding. For example, it implies that your day self and night self have a prima facie duty not to coerce or physically restrain each other in order to get what they want. But it also implies that they are morally permitted to coerce and physically restrain each other much more often, and with respect to many more issues, than, say, you and your friend are. (shrink)
Argues against the rationality of self-concern. Non-instrumental interest in my own well-being is not justified by the fact that it is mine. This follows from the metaphysics of first-person thought, as thought about the object of immediate knowledge. The argument leaves room for rational self-interest as a form of self-love that is justified, like love for others, by the fact of our shared humanity.
Lynne Baker's concept of a first-person perspective is not as clear and straightforward as it might seem at first glance. There is a discrepancy between her argumentation that we have first-person perspectives and some characteristics she takes first-person perspectives to have, namely, that the instances of this capacity necessarily persist through time and are indivisible and unduplicable. Moreover, these characteristics cause serious problems concerning personal identity.
According to conventionalist accounts of personal identity, persons are constituted in part by practices and attitudes of certain sorts of care. In this paper, we concentrate on the most well-developed and defended version of conventionalism currently on offer (namely, that proposed by David Braddon-Mitchell, Caroline West, and Kristie Miller) and discuss how the conventionalist appears forced either (1) to accept arbitrariness concerning from which perspective to judge one's survival or (2) to maintain egalitarianism at the cost of making “transfiguring” decisions (...) such as Pascal's Wager rationally intractable. We consider three ways the egalitarian conventionalist could make these choices tractable and show that each one comes at significant cost to the view. We end the paper by considering whether accepting arbitrariness would be a better move for the conventionalist and conclude that, even here, she runs the risk of transfiguring choices being rationally intractable. (shrink)
H. Jay Dinshah, the father of the modern vegan movement in America and founder of American Vegan Society, eloquently explains ethical reasons for veganism. His daughter Anne updates and edits his pioneering writings. Over forty vegan luminaries tell how they were influenced and inspired by Jay. Together they encourage readers to explore ways to promote positive action in the world towards veganism through “dynamic harmlessness.”.
Most theists believe that they will survive death. Indeed, they believe that any given person will survive death and persist into an afterlife while remaining the very same person. In light of this belief, one might ask: how—or, in virtue of what—do people survive death? Perhaps the most natural way to answer this question is by appealing to some general account of personal identity through time. That way one can say that people persist through the time of their death in (...) the same way that people persist through time in general. Then the obvious question is: how—or, in virtue of what—do people persist through time in general? Many different answers to this question have been proposed. Some philosophers think that personal identity through time consists in something, such as psychological or biological continuity. They think that there are informative necessary and sufficient conditions—i.e., criteria—for personal identity through time. These philosophers are criterialists. Other philosophers are anti-criterialists. Anti-criterialists believe that people persist through time, but they deny that there are any informative criteria for personal identity through time. In this paper I develop a challenge to anti-criterialism. I begin by spelling out the commitments of anti-criterialism. Then I argue that there are good reasons for anyone to reject anti-criterialism. And then I argue that theists have special reasons to reject anti-criterialism (This is particularly important and noteworthy because a substantial portion of those who defend anti-criterialism are theists. Examples include [but may not be limited to] Trenton Merricks, Richard Swinburne, Joseph Butler, and Thomas Reid). I conclude that there is an informative criterion for personal identity through time and death, even if we haven’t heard of it yet. (shrink)
The sci-fi premise of the 2002 film Solaris allows director Steven Soderbergh to tell a compelling and distinctly philosophical love story. The “visitors” that appear to the characters in the film present us with a vivid thought experiment, and the film naturally prods us to dwell on the following possibility: If confronted with a duplicate (or near duplicate) of someone you love, what would your response be? What should your response be? The tension raised by such a far-fetched situation reflects (...) a tension that exists in real life: that between an attraction to qualities possessed by a person and attraction to the person in a manner that transcends such an attachment to qualities. In short, this cinematic thought-experiment challenges us to reflect on what we really attach to when we fall in love: is it the person, or is it merely the cluster of characteristics the person manifests? Which sort of attachment is appropriate? Which is philosophical defensible? The protagonist Chris Kelvin’s ambivalence at encountering this bizarre possibility is gripping because it tracks our own ambivalence about such matters. Frankly most of us don’t know just how we would react to such a situation. The thought that accepting and embracing such a “visitor” involves a violation to the original person is natural and pervasive, especially if the acceptance comes with a failure to acknowledge the distinction between the original person and the “visitor”. At the same time, a deep attraction to such a person would surely also be entirely natural and perhaps even inescapable. We, like Kelvin, are torn in different directions by this (thankfully) far-fetched possibility. One philosopher who affirms that accepting a duplicate as though it were the original is the rational thing to do is Derek Parfit. His argument for “the unimportance of identity” is both powerful and radical, and though I’ll be critical of his approach, in the final section of the paper I suggest that it does offer up the resources for an intriguing interpretation of the end of this complex and ambiguous film. (shrink)
Aquinas’s account of the human soul is the key to his theory of human nature. The soul’s nature as the substantial form of the human body appears at times to be in tension with its nature as immaterial intellect, however, and nowhere is this tension more evident than in Aquinas’s discussion of the ‘separated’ soul. In this paper I use the Biblical story of the rich man and Lazarus (which Aquinas took to involve actual separated souls) to highlight what I (...) will call the Two-Person Problem facing his account of human identity through death and the bodily resurrection. Aquinas claims that the rational soul is neither the human being nor the human person. When the rich man’s soul says “I am in agony,” then, what is the referent of “I?” It appears that there is a human person, ‘Dives,’ who is replaced at Dives’s death by the person ‘Dives’s soul,’ who is in turn replaced at the bodily resurrection by ‘Dives,’ whom Aquinas claims is numerically identical to the original person. But this seems hopeless as an identity-preserving account of human nature. I believe that Aquinas’s account of human nature does not, as it stands, possess the resources with which to overcome this difficulty; I conclude that reconstructing a(n otherwise) Thomistic account that involves immediate bodily resurrection, although a radical approach, is the one best suited to preserving the most essential features of Aquinas’s theory. (shrink)
Psychological Sequentialism holds that no causal constraint is necessary for the preservation of what matters in survival; rather, it is sufficient for preservation if two groups of mental states are similar enough and temporally close enough. Suppose that one’s body is instantaneously dematerialized and subsequently, by an amazing coincidence, a collection of molecules is configured to form a qualitatively identical human body. According to Psychological Sequentialism, these events preserve what matters in survival. In this article, I examine some of the (...) main arguments for the view and argue that they fail to establish that no causal constraint is necessary. I also argue that Psychological Sequentialism yields implausible consequences that render it hard to accept the view. (shrink)
Derek Parfit has offered numerous arguments in an attempt to establish that identity is not what matters. Jens Johannson has recently argued that Parfit's various arguments for the claim that identity is not what matters fail to establish what Parfit takes such arguments to establish. Johannson contends that this is due in part to the invalidity of one of Parfit's key arguments, and the fact that Parfit ignores a position that is compatible with the conclusions of his successful arguments and (...) the claim that identity is in fact what matters, namely, that I survive fission as either one of the fission products or the other, but it is indeterminate which one I survive as. I aim to establish here that both of Johannson's assertions are problematic. As a corollary of this task, I hope to shed some light on the relationship between indeterminacy and fission-based arguments for the claim that identity is not what matters. (shrink)
This essay introduces and defends a new analysis of prudential value. According to this analysis, what it is for something to be good for you is for that thing to contribute to the appeal or desirability of being in your position. I argue that this proposal fits well with our ways of talking about prudential value and well-being; enables promising analyses of the related concepts of luck, selfishness, self-sacrifice, and paternalism; preserves the relationship between prudential value and the attitudes of (...) concern, love, pity, and envy; and satisfies various other desiderata. I also highlight two ways in which the analysis is informative and can lead to progress in our substantive theorizing about the good life. (shrink)