Animalism and Person Essentialism

Kevin W. Sharpe 1
  • 1 Department of Philosophy, Saint Cloud State University, Centennial Hall 365, 720 Fourth Avenue South, St. Cloud, Minnesota, MN 56301-4498, USA
Kevin W. Sharpe

Abstract

Animalism is the view that human persons are human animals – biological organisms that belong to the species Homo sapiens. This paper concerns a family of modal objections to animalism based on the essentiality of personhood (persons and animals differ in their persistence conditions; psychological considerations are relevant for the persistence of persons, but not animals; persons, but not animals, are essentially psychological beings). Such arguments are typically used to support constitutionalism, animalism’s main neo-Lockean rival. The problem with such arguments is that they wrongly assume that animalism is incompatible with our essentially being psychological beings. In this paper, I discuss a formulation of animalism, what I call psychologically-serious animalism, according to which human persons are essentially human animals and essentially persons. I show how the availability of this neglected formulation of animalism undermines objections based on the essentiality of personhood.

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