The ‘Is’ in Animal-is-m
Article [Version of Record]
Is part ofIthaque ; vol. 9, pp. 107-129.
Publisher(s)Société philosophique Ithaque
Eric T. Olson argues for a position in personal identity called Animalism. Olson's definition of ‘what we are’ is what the biological community currently defines as the ‘human animal’. While Olson argues his definition is determinate and anti-relativist, I object by maintaining that his definition is fundamentally soft relativist. This is accomplished by asking : 1) why favour the biological definition over other cultural definitions ? – and by arguing : 2) that nothing stops the biological definition from changing ; 3) that the biological definition is classificatory and not ontologically explanatory ; 4) that biology may drop the concept ‘human animal’ leaving no definition of ‘what we are’. Finally, I look at which ontological decisions Olson makes and ask if there is any hope for Animalism and for the human philosopher with no proven ontology. In my conclusion, I follow Olson’s surprising admission by suggesting that I have no idea what we are.