Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

David I. Boonin

Second Advisor

Chris Heathwood

Third Advisor

David Barnett


In this paper I argue for the position that we (human animals) are essentially human animals in virtue of the integrative unities of our bodies. These integrative unities also give rise to consciousness, which is embodied, also as a result of the integrative unities. Human animals persist through time in virtue of our vital functioning. To argue for these positions, I first consider alternate views. Primarily, I consider both the psychological view, which I ultimately dismiss, as well as the Biological Approach. The Biological Approach (argued by Eric Olson) is the most similar to the approach I sustain, and so I take some time to give an exegesis of his view, and explain how it differs from my own. Ultimately, I agree with Eric Olson that our type of being is essentially human animal, and that we persist in virtue of our vital functions. I diverge from Olson in that he centers his explanation in the brain stem, whereas I have a systemic approach. I also differ from Olson in that I attempt to give an explanation for persons, and well as human animals.

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Philosophy Commons