A Response to Olson’s Animalism

Topics: Reasoning, Human, Critical thinking Pages: 3 (940 words) Published: December 7, 2009
A Response to Olson’s Animalism
1. Introduction
There is a human organism located exactly where you are located. Eric Olson argues that you are identical to that organism. This view is known as animalism. His “thinking animal” argument takes the following form: (1) There is a human animal where you are located; (2) If there’s a human animal where you are located, it is thinking; (3) The only thing thinking where you are located is you; and (4) So, you are a human animal. One argument, which exhibits parallel reasoning and boasts premises motivated in the exact same way, may be employed to resist Olson’s argument. In this paper I will show that this argument, which I will now call the Guanilo-Style argument, is structurally identical to Olson’s argument, but which yields a conclusion that is implausible. This will render Olson’s argument unsound, as any objections raised to the Guanilo-Style argument must also be raised to Olson’s argument.

Before I present the Guanilo-Style argument, I will show why many philosophers reject animalism. Olson grants that there may be reason to reject animalism. Leibniz’s Law can help to show that you are not identical to the animal that Olson proposes you are. Disregarding scientific limitations, the argument runs as follows: (1) You have the property of being able to survive getting a new body; (2) That animal lacks the property of being able to survive getting a new body; (3) If that animal is identical to you, then that animal has every property that you have; (4) So, that animal is not identical to you. This conclusion has obvious implications on Olson’s Thinking Animal Argument, namely that you are not a human animal. However, Olson nevertheless attempts to defend animalism with his Thinking Animal Argument.

2. Defending The Thinking Animal Argument
Olson defends the argument that concludes that you are a human animal. Premise (1) of his argument, that there is a human animal located exactly where you...
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