- If Just Matter theory is true, then 'person' is a phase sortal.
- If 'person' is a phase sortal, then we cannot make sense of our obligations and responsibilities towards other persons.
- But we can make sense of our obligations and responsibilities towards other persons
- Therefore, Just Matter theory is false.
I am curious about what you guys think of this objection, specifically premise 2. While in class, we did not give many reasons for thinking that 2 is true, but we also did not give any reasons for thinking that 2 is false. Here's one:
5. 'child' is a phase sortal.
6. We can make sense of our responsibilities towards children.
7. if 5 and 6, then 2 is false
8. Therefore, 2 is false.
Hopefully 5 and 6 are uncontroversial, so here's a defense of 7: it seems that any explanation of our responsibilities towards people insofar as they are children will allow for the fact that having the phase sortal 'child' entails having certain responsibilities towards them. But it seems like an analogous case can be made for 'persons' as phase sortal. Just like, insofar as something is a child, there are special responsibilities we must have towards them, it seems like insofar as something is a person, we can have special responsibilities towards them. There doesn't seem to be anything about the phase sortal 'person' that differentiates it from the phase sortal 'child' unless we assume that 'person' is not a phase sortal. But this would be to beg the question against the Just Matter theory.
Of course, there might be special reasons for thinking that 'person' couldn't be a phase sortal, but I see no principled reason for denying this. Any thoughts?