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Dmytro Sepetyi

Abstract

This paper re-evaluates Derek Parfit’s attack on the commonly held view that personal identity is necessarily determinate and that it is what matters. In the first part we first argue against the Humean view of personal identity; secondly, we classify the remaining alternatives into three kinds: the body theory and the brain theory, the quasi-Humean theory, and the soul theory, and thirdly we deploy Parfit’s arguments and related considerations to the point that none of the materialistic alternatives is consistent with the commonly held view. This leaves us with the alternative: either we accept the radical and highly implausible materialistic view Parfit calls ‘Reductionism’, or we accept the view that we are nonphysical indivisible entities—Cartesian egos, or souls. The second part of the paper discusses Parfit’s objections against the Cartesian view: that there is no reason to believe in the existence of such nonphysical entities; that if such entities exist, there is no evidence that they are enduring (to span a human life); that even if they exist and are enduring, they are irrelevant for the psychological profile and temporal continuity of a person; that experiments with ‘brain-splitted’ patients provide strong evidence against the Cartesian view. We argue that these objections are in part mistaken, and that the remaining (sound) part is not strong enough to make the Cartesian view less plausible than Reductionism.

Open access

Dmytro Sepetyi

Abstract

The article discusses the relationship between John Searle’s doctrine of naturalism and various forms of materialism and dualism. It is argued that despite Searle’s protestations, his doctrine is not substantially differ- ent from the epiphenomenalistic property dualism, except for the admis- sion, in his later works, of the existence of an irreducible non-Humean self. In particular, his recognition that consciousness is unique in having an irreducible first-person ontology makes his disavowal of property du- alism purely verbalistic. As for epiphenomenalism, Searle’s explanation of how consciousness can be efficacious without violating the causal clo- sure of the physical, by analogy with the causal efficacy of the higher level properties of physical objects that are supervenient on the microphysical, confuses causality and constitution (causal and constitutive superve- nience). It is also argued that Searle’s recognition of the existence of an irreducible non-Humean self that is responsible for decision-making sits badly both with his (property dualistic) view that conscious mental states are irreducibly first-personal states of the brain (rather than of the self) and with his (epiphenomenalistic) view that consciousness has no causal power in addition to that of the underlying neurobiology.