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The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion$
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William J. Wainwright

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195138092

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195138090.001.0001

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Death and the Afterlife

Death and the Afterlife

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion

Lynne Rudder Baker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   afterlife, constitution view (of personal identity), death, personal identity, sameness of body or brain, sameness of memories, sameness of soul, sameness of soul-body composite, resurrection, soul

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