A Response to Olson’s Animalism Essay

931 WordsDec 17, 20094 Pages
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…show more content…
The majority of objections raised against Olson’s argument, though, come in light of premise 2 and its implications. The motivation for premise (2) of Olson’s argument, that if there’s a human animal located exactly where you are, it is thinking, is very straightforward. Olson states that if the human animal can have the capacity of maintaining a functional nervous system, then it must be thinking. One specific objection to this premise is the example of the human zombie. This example posits a human zombie that is identical to a human in every way possible, except that it is not thinking. Olson finds this argument irrelevant to the world we live in. He replies by stating that in our normal world, in which hypothetical human zombies do not exist, there is no reason why a human animal with a fully functional nervous system would not be thinking. Another defense of premise (2) compares humans to less advanced animal. This defense of premise (2) runs as follows: (1) Less advanced animals can think (e.g., apes, dogs); (3) If they can think, then human animals can think; (3) So, human animals can think. Premise (3) of Olson’s Thinking Animal, that if there is a human animal located exactly where you are and thinking, it is you, also raises possible objections. For instance, the idea of “you” is very different for Olson than it is for a substance dualist. We can imagine a scenario in which there is a human animal with a brain and you with a head that is

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