Bioethics Substance Dualism and the Argument from Self-Awareness
Have you ever heard of the mind/body problem? We commonly assume that we all have a mental and physical dimension to our identities; But, the direct awareness of ourselves often poses several questions about personal identity and our overall ontological makeup. J.P. Moreland appeals to this common dualist intuition in a defense of the human soul. He argues that we are not identical with our physical bodies, but that each of us are essentially an indivisibly simple spiritual substance. Interestingly, Moreland uses the way that God occupies created space, namely by being fully present throughout, as being similar to our occupying a physical body. In this way, even if we were to lose an arm, leg, or even half our brains, we would not be "half" a person. Moreland also counters some of the physicalist oppositions to dualism and their often overriding desire for neither God nor the soul to exist simply because of the moral implications.
Indeed, the existence of the soul has huge ethical implications, especially in the realm of modern and future technologies. The mind/body problem isn't going away. But, Moreland's lecture offers a brief Christian perspective on human nature and some of the important ramifications for our modern world's bioethical debates.
This is a lecture from the 2011 National Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on the theme, “No Other Name.” The conference featured plenary speakers: Darrell Bock, Tim Tennant, and Kelly Kapic.
J.P. Moreland is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in La Mirada, California. He holds the following degrees: a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Missouri, a Th.M. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M. A. in philosophy from the University of California-Riverside, and a Ph.D. in philosophy... read more
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