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Philosophia Christi

Volume 10, Issue 2, 2008

Responding to New Resurrection Challenges

David C. Cramer
Pages 427-434

Nancey Murphy on Personal Identity and Eschatological Resurrection
A Review Essay of Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?

In this paper I discuss Nancey Murphy’s nonreductive physicalist perspective on personal identity and eschatological resurrection offered in her recent work, Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? I argue that if we take Murphy to be presenting actual metaphysical positions on these issues, it is very difficult to see how they go together coherently. Contrary to Murphy’s explicit claim to be presenting metaphysical criteria for personal identity, I argue that it appears she is instead offering an epistemological or psychological account of identity. I conclude that Murphy may need to modify or reject either her criteria for personal numerical identity or her view of the resurrection in order to consistently hold the other. Alternately, she could view this inconsistency as a failure of the underlying physicalist assumptions of her “scientific research program” and thus reject her physicalist assumptions altogether.