Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Sorry about the long break between posts. Philosophy Dad has been busy with philosophy and with being a dad, and hasn't had much time for blogging. I hope to pick up the pace again soon. But in the meanwhile... I came across a recent review of a book on ethics and metaphysics. This is a combination of topics that I've always been interested in, as I don't quite buy Rawls's "independence of moral theory" argument (though perhaps some experimental philosophy like this piece will turn me around on that). In any event, I was reminded of an animated video I saw a while back that cleverly combines the topics. Searching for this video, I remembered that it was called "To Be." A side note here folks: if you want people to be able to find your stuff on the Internet, don't give it a title consisting solely of two of the most frequently used words in the English language. I mean really.

Well, I finally found the video. Cartoons can be a fun way to share complicated philosophical ideas with kids. This one has to do with the question of personal identity over time. That is, in virtue of what are you the same person you were ten years ago, or when you were a child, or when you were born? Of course, your qualities have changed since then (you're taller, you don't think vinegar is gross, you only pick your nose in private, etc.) But you are in a fundamental sense one and the same person: we wouldn't be mistaken in saying that you are older today than you were last year. There's much more here. A lot of work in this area involves fun thought experiments involving brain transplants, fission, and teletransportation.

The cartoon, by animator John Weldon, makes use of the teletransportation idea in an amusing and effective way. But be warned: small kids may find it a bit frightening.

Here it is:

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