The Stony Metaphysical Heart of Animalism

In Stephan Blatti & Paul Snowdon (eds.), Animalism. Oxford University Press. pp. 303-328 (2016)
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Animalism—the view that the identity across time of individuals like us consists in the persistence of our animal organisms—does poorly at accounting for our identity-related practical concerns. The reason is straightforward: whereas our practical concerns seem to track the identity of psychological creatures—persons—animalism focuses on the identity of human organisms who are not essentially persons. This lack of fit between our practical concerns and animalism has been taken to reduce animalism’s plausibility (relative to psychological criteria of identity). In this paper, I survey the three leading replies to this challenge, finding them either implausible or incomplete. I will then attempt to construct the only viable response, one that begins by admitting that our practical concerns actually do not consist in a monolithic set; rather, there are distinctly different types of practical concerns, and while some are clearly grounded on psychological relations, some are actually grounded on others, including animalistic and humanistic relations; furthermore, their actual connection to identity is tenuous at best. What these concerns are, how they divide up, and what they are grounded on in each instance—these are the issues it is my second aim in this paper to take up.
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