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Animal Self-Awareness

Madden, R; (2017) Animal Self-Awareness. Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology , 9 , Article 9. 10.3998/ptb.6959004.0009.009. Green open access

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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.

Type: Article
Title: Animal Self-Awareness
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3998/ptb.6959004.0009.009
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/ptb.6959004.0009.009
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017 Author(s) This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license, which permits anyone to download, copy, distribute, or display the full text without asking for permission, provided that the creator(s) are given full credit, no derivative works are created, and the work is not used for commercial purposes.
Keywords: Animalism, Derek Parfit, Embodied Parts, First-person Thought, Multiple Thinkers, Self-awareness
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10040837
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