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Animal Self-Awareness

Madden, Rory (2017) Animal Self-Awareness. Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology, 9 (9). ISSN 2475-3025

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Abstract

Part of the philosophical interest of the topic of organic individuals is that it promises to shed light on a basic and perennial question of philosophical self-understanding, the question what are we? The class of organic individuals seems to be a good place to look for candidates to be the things that we are. However there are, in principle, different ways of locating ourselves within the class of organic individuals; organic individuals occur at both higher and lower mereological levels than the stereotypical bounded and physiologically unified vertebrate organism. The view that we are organic individuals smaller than the physiological organism is one that has recently been endorsed by Derek Parfit. This paper attempts to resolve a dispute between Parfit’s ‘embodied part’ view and a contrary ‘animalist’ view according to which we are whole organisms. It is explained why a problem of multiple thinkers presents a serious obstacle to a straightforward resolution of this dispute. Parfit’s own strategy for dealing with this obstacle is found to be problematic. However his strategy has a certain general shape, which can be instantiated in a different, and better, specific way. I close in the final section, not with a definite resolution of the dispute, but with illustration of how progress on the question of about which organic individuals we are requires engagement with questions about the nature and function of self-awareness.

Part of a special issue, Ontologies of Living Beings, guest-edited by A. M. Ferner and Thomas Pradeu


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Madden, Roryr.madden@ucl.ac.uk
Keywords: animalism, Derek Parfit, embodied parts, first-person thought, multiple thinkers, self-awareness
Depositing User: Nora Boyd
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2018 16:15
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2018 16:15
Item ID: 14540
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.3998/ptb.6959004.0009.009
Date: 2017
Volume: 9
Number: 9
ISSN: 2475-3025
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14540

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