Rudder Baker, Lynne. Death and the Afterlife
2005, in William J. Wainwright (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Added by: Emily Paul
Abstract: Monotheistic conceptions of an afterlife raise a philosophical question: In virtue of what is a postmortem person the same person who lived and died? Four standard answers are surveyed and criticized: sameness of soul, sameness of body or brain, sameness of soul-body composite, sameness of memories. The discussion of these answers to the question of personal identity is followed by a development of my own view, the Constitution View. According to the Constitution View, you are a person in virtue of having a first-person perspective, and a postmortem person is you if and only if that person has the same first-person perspective. The Christian doctrine of resurrection has three features: (i) a postmortem person is embodied; (ii) a postmortem person is identical to some premortem person; and (iii) the postmortem person owes existence to a miracle. I show how the Constitution View accommodates these three features.
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Comment: Useful for an introductory philosophy of religion course, or a more specialised course on the afterlife. Because of the personal identity aspects here, Rudder Baker's account could also be applied to reincarnation: does the constitution view work here? Is it harder to maintain personal identity in reincarnation cases than in other cases of surviving our death?