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Philosophical Studies

, Volume 150, Issue 2, pp 255–270 | Cite as

Substance concepts and personal identity

  • Peter Nichols
Article

Abstract

According to one argument for Animalism about personal identity, animal, but not person, is a Wigginsian substance concept—a concept that tells us what we are essentially. Person supposedly fails to be a substance concept because it is a functional concept that answers the question “what do we do?” without telling us what we are. Since person is not a substance concept, it cannot provide the criteria for our coming into or going out of existence; animal, on the other hand, can provide such criteria. This argument has been defended by Eric Olson, among others. I argue that this line of reasoning fails to show Animalism to be superior to the Psychological Approach, for the following two reasons: (1) human animal, animal, and organism are all functional concepts, and (2) the distinction between what something is and what it does is illegitimate on the reading that the argument needs.

Keywords

Personal identity Substance concepts Animalism The Psychological Approach Animal Person Eric Olson 

Notes

Acknowledgements

For valuable feedback on this article, I would like to thank Mark Anderson, Holly Kantin, Carolina Sartorio, Eric Stencil, and especially Alan Sidelle.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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