Re: [Fwd: NDPR David Shoemaker, Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction]

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 2009 00:01:50 +1100

2009/2/20 Brent Meeker <> wrote:
> Review of a book that may be of interest to the list.
> Brent Meeker
> -------- Original Message --------
> Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
> 2009-02-26 : View this Review Online
> <> : View Other NDPR Reviews
> <>
> David Shoemaker, /Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction/,
> Broadview Press, 2009, 296pp., $26.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781551118826.
> *Reviewed by Amy Kind, Claremont McKenna College*

Thank-you for alerting us to this book. I'll pick out just one passage
from the review for comment:

> Though Shoemaker argues that the last three views suffer from serious
> problems that prevent them from being plausible accounts of our identity
> over time, he offers a different sort of argument against the Soul
> Criterion: There are good practical reasons to "insist on a tight
> connection between the nature of personal identity and our practical
> concerns, and thus reject any theory of personal identity -- like the
> Soul Criterion -- that denies this connection." (33) Even if souls
> exist, we lack any kind of epistemic access to them; rather, we
> reidentify individuals in terms of their bodies and/or their
> psychologies. Thus, souls are irrelevant to the practical issues under
> consideration, and this irrelevance is taken to justify the rejection of
> the Soul Criterion.

Predominantly on this list we use the psychological criterion of
personal identity, originated by Locke and developed using various SF
thought experiments by Derek Parfit. This criterion is assumed true if
you are to agree to teleportation or replacement of your brain with a
functionally equivalent electronic analogue, and is contrasted with
non-reductionist theories involving the existence of a soul. If I have
a soul, it might not be transferred in the copying process even though
the copy acts the same as the original. I can understand this if the
copy is a philosophical zombie for lack of a soul, but it seems that
according to Shoemaker's usage the soul is not identical with the mind
or consciousness. This leaves open the possibility that my copy might
both behave *and* think the same way I do but still not be the same
person. But if that is so, then as Shoemaker says, that would make the
soul irrelevant.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Fri Feb 20 2009 - 08:02:06 PST

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