Organon F

Volume 26, May 2019, Issue 2, Pages 207–227

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article

Animalism and the Vagueness of Composition

Radim Bělohrad


Lockean theories of personal identity maintain that we persist by virtue of psychological continuity, and most Lockeans say that we are material things coinciding with animals. Some animalists argue that if persons and animals coincide, they must have the same intrinsic properties, including thinking, and, as a result, there are ‘too many thinkers’ associated with each human being. Further, Lockeans have trouble explaining how animals and persons can be numerically different and have different persistence conditions. For these reasons, the idea of a person being numerically distinct but coincident with an animal is rejected and animalists conclude that we simply are animals. However, animalists face a similar problem when confronted with the vagueness of composition. Animals are entities with vague boundaries. According to the linguistic account of vagueness, the vagueness of a term consists in there being a number of candidates for the denotatum of the vague term. It seems to imply that where we see an animal, there are, in fact, a lot of distinct but overlapping entities with basically the same intrinsic properties, including thinking. As a result, the animalist must also posit ‘too many thinkers’ where we thought there was only one. This seems to imply that the animalist cannot accept the linguistic account of vagueness. In this paper the author argues that the animalist can accept the linguistic account of vagueness and retain her argument against Lockeanism.


Animalism; Lockeanism; partial identity; personal identity; supervaluations; vagueness.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Radim Bělohrad


Masaryk University


Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Arna Nováka 1, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic


About this article


13 June 2018


2 October 2018

Published online

14 March 2019


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as


Bělohrad, R. (2019). Animalism and the Vagueness of Composition. Organon F, 26(2), 207–227.


Bělohrad, Radim. 2019. "Animalism and the Vagueness of Composition." Organon F 26 (2): 207–227.


Bělohrad, R. (2019). Animalism and the Vagueness of Composition. Organon F, 26(2), pp. 207–227.

Copyright information

© Radim Bělohrad

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