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Animalism Versus Lockeanism: A Current Controversy

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My purpose is to explore the possible lines of reply available to a defender of the neo-Lockean position on personal identity in response to the recently popular ‘animalist’ objection. I compare the animalist objection with an objection made to Locke by Bishop Butler, Thomas Reid and, in our own day, Sydney Shoemaker. I argue that the only possible response available to a defender of Locke against the Butler–Reid–Shoemaker objection is to reject Locke’s official definition of a person as a thinking, intelligent thing and replace it with the concept of the self– the object of self-reference – and that this response is equally obligatory for the neo-Lockean in replying to the animalist. I explore other possibilities, including the position that there is no sense in talking about personal identity at all.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: University of Birmingham

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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