Organisms and Personal Identity
Individuation and the Work of David Wiggins
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Over his philosophical career, David Wiggins has produced a body of work that, though varied and wide-ranging, stands as a coherent and carefully integrated whole. In this book Ferner examines Wiggins’ conceptualist-realism, his sortal theory ‘D’ and his human being theory in order to assess how far these elements of his systematic metaphysics connect.
In addition to rectifying misinterpretations and analysing the relations between Wiggins’ works, Ferner reveals the importance of the philosophy of biology to Wiggins’ approach. This book elucidates the biological anti-reductionism present in Wiggins’ work and highlights how this stance stands as a productive alternative to emergentism. With an analysis of Wiggins’ construal of substances, specifically organisms, the book goes on to discuss how Wiggins brings together the concept of a person with the concept of a natural substance, or human being.
An extensive introduction to the work of David Wiggins, as well as a contribution to the dialogue between personal identity theorists and philosophers of biology, this book will appeal to students and scholars working in the areas of philosophy, biology and the history of Anglophone metaphysics.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. An Intellectual Microcosm 2. D 3. Natural Substances and Artefacts 4. The Human Being Theory 5. A Genealogy of the Person Concept 6. Biological Models 7. Reduction and Emergence 8. Aristotelian Organisms 9. Brain Transplantation 10. Conclusion 11. Appendix: A History of the Brain Transplantation Story
Adam M. Ferner has worked in academic philosophy in France and the UK, and in schools and youth centres around London. He has written two books – Think Differently (2018) and Organisms and Personal Identity (2016) – and has two more on the way. He has been a regular contributor to philosophy journals and magazines including The Philosophy Magazine. Adam currently works at the Royal Institute of Philosophy in London.
"In this book, Adam Ferner frames challenges to my work which I take very seriously – not least with respect to the relation of being a person and being a human being. He seeks also to repair the acknowledged omission on my part to pursue the relation between the issues in logic and metaphysics I do discuss and profound issues in the philosophy of biology which I have neglected. I am surprised and gratified by the attention he has paid to my work."
—David Wiggins, New College, Oxford
"There is a great deal of contemporary debate about the relation between metaphysics and the philosophy of biology, but it is surprisingly little remarked that no less a metaphysician than David Wiggins has been insisting on the importance of this relationship for half a century. In this book, Adam Ferner not only draws our attention to this fact, but goes on to explore the connection between Wiggins’s ideas, especially on personal identity, and recent thinking in the philosophy of biology, in unprecedented depth. The book will be of great value not only to philosophers interested in personal identity and biological individuality, but also to many others interested in a fresh and important perspective on the work of Wiggins."
—John Dupré, University of Exeter