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Abstract: The rare condition known as dicephalus occurs when (prior to implantation) a zygote fails to divide completely, resulting in twins who are conjoined below the neck. Human dicephalic twins look like a two-headed person, with each brain supporting a distinct mental life. Jeff McMahan has recently argued that, because they instance two of us but only one animal, dicephalic twins provide a counterexample to the animalist's claim that each of us is identical with a human animal. To the contrary, I argue that in cases of dicephalus it is obvious neither that there is one animal nor that there are two of us. Consequently, the animalist criterion does not straightforwardly apply to cases of dicephalus. I defend an account of dicephalus that is both sensitive to the complexity of twinning phenomena and not inconsistent with animalism. In my view, dicephalic twins are a borderline case of the concept HUMAN ANIMAL. I conclude with some speculative remarks concerning the normative import (if any) of my claim that dicephalic twins are a borderline case
Abstract: Part of the appeal of the biological approach to personal identity is that it does not have to countenance spatially coincident entities. But if the termination thesis is correct and the organism ceases to exist at death, then it appears that the corpse is a dead body that earlier was a living body and distinct from but spatially coincident with the organism. If the organism is identified with the body, then the unwelcome spatial coincidence could perhaps be avoided. It is argued that such an identification would be a mistake. A living organism has a different part/whole relationship and persistence conditions than the alleged body. A case will be made that the concept ?human body? is a conceptual mess, vague in an unprincipled manner, and that an eliminativist stance towards dead bodies is the appropriate response
Abstract: Scott Campbell has recently defended the psychological approach to personal identity over time by arguing that a person is literally a series of mental events. Rejecting four-dimensionalism about the persistence of physical objects, Campbell regards constitutionalism as the main rival version of the psychological approach. He argues that his "series view" has two clear advantages over constitutionalism: it avoids the "two thinkers" objection and it allows a person to change bodies. In addition, Campbell suggests a reply to the objection, often raised against views such as his, that thoughts must be distinct from their thinker. In this paper, I argue that Campbell's responses to the "two thinkers" and the "thoughts/thinker" objections are unsuccessful. Furthermore, his reply to the latter leads to four-dimensionalism of the kind he wanted to avoid – and this view too allows a person to change bodies. Moreover, I argue that it speaks against the series view that generalised versions of it fare much more poorly than do generalised versions of constitutionalism and four-dimensionalism
Abstract: The philosophical problem of personal identity starts with something like Descartes’ famous question—“But what then am I?”—construed as an inquiry into the most fundamental nature of creatures like us. Let us stipulate that creatures like us are most fundamentally persons. That is, ‘person’ is the name of our..
Abstract: The apparent fact that each of us coincides with a thinking animal looks like a strong argument for our being animals (animalism). Some critics, however, claim that this sort of reasoning actually undermines animalism. According to them, the apparent fact that each human animal coincides with a thinking body that is not an animal is an equally strong argument for our not being animals. I argue that the critics' case fails for reasons that do not affect the case for animalism
Abstract: If we are neither animals nor material things constituted by animals, we might be parts of animals. This chapter is devoted to the view that we are spatial parts of animals; the next asks whether we are temporal parts. The only spatial parts of animals that I can think of any reason to suppose we might be are brains, or something like brains--parts of brains or perhaps entire central nervous sytems. Call the view that we are something like brains the brain view
Abstract: One reason why the Biological Approach to personal identity is attractive is that it doesn’t make its advocates deny that they were each once a mindless fetus.[i] According to the Biological Approach, we are essentially organisms and exist as long as certain life processes continue. Since the Psychological Account of personal identity posits some mental traits as essential to our persistence, not only does it follow that we could not survive in a permanently vegetative state or irreversible coma, but it would appear that none of us was ever a mindless fetus. But what happens to the organism that was a mindless fetus when the _person_ arrives on the scene?[ii] Can the acquisition of thought destroy an organism? That would certainly be news to biologists. Does one organism cease to exist with the emergence of thought and another organism, one identical to the person, take its place? (Burke,1994) That doesn’t seem much more plausible than the previous move. Should identity and Leibniz
Abstract: My comments have two parts. I begin by laying out the argument that seems to me to be at the core of Olson’s thinking about human persons; and I suggest a problem with his reasons for accepting one of its premises. The premise is warranted by its platitudinous or commonsensical status; but Olson’s arguments lead him to conclusions that undermine the family of platitudes to which it belongs. Then I’ll raise a question about how Olson should construe the vagueness that would seem to infect the boundaries of human animals