Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fungibility, persons and materiality

This seems plausible:

  1. All purely material objects are fungible.
  2. No persons are fungible.
  3. So, no persons are purely material objects.

Maybe that's not quite right. One might think that some objects care about (a colleague gave the examples of the Mona Lisa and Grandpa's Bible) are non-fungible. But I think it's plausible that material objects are at most derivatively non-fungible, deriving their non-fungibility from the non-fungibility of people. Thus:

  1. No purely material object is non-derivately non-fungible.
  2. Every person is non-derivatively non-fungible.
  3. So, no person is a purely material object.


Unknown said...

What about animals or more specifically pets? The closest thing to a particular pet is its clone, but even still I wouldn't choose a clone of my dog over my actual dog.

Alexander R Pruss said...

That's good reason to think higher animals are not purely material.

Anonymous said...

i must be missing something in the second argument as I thought you wanted to say (2), but (5) seems to say the opposite.

Any clarification?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Typos fixed. Thanks for the catch!

Jaroslaw Michalak said...

It seems that to accept 2. one has to outright reject physicalism and to reject 2. one has to embrace it. Does it not mean that the argument is question begging?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Only if one accepts 1. :-)

The argument is question-begging in, and I think only in, the sense in which all valid arguments are.