Master of Arts (MA)


Edward N Martin

Primary Subject Area

Religion, Philosophy of; Theology


DNA, dualism, Intermediate State, Resurrection, Soul, Thomas Aquinas


In contemporary metaphysics, there are two popular options for personal numerical identity (NID) over time: substance dualism and materialism. According to recent arguments by some Christian philosophers, both options conflict with the Christian doctrine of the bodily resurrection. Substance dualism trivializes the physical body for NID (when it has some kind of role in the bodily resurrection), and also is seen to conflict with modern neuroscience. But NID and mind cannot be continued solely by the material body, as versions of the Replacement Argument (from Richard Swinburne and Alvin Plantinga) show. There are good aspects to both options, especially with regard to the bodily resurrection. Is there a way to reconcile them?

In this thesis I have two motivating big questions: 1) Can the conflict between Christian substance dualists and materialists be resolved by the hylomorphic Aristotelian model of human personhood proposed by Eleonore Stump, based on her interpretation of Thomas Aquinas (the Stump/Aquinas model)? 2) Does the Stump/Aquinas model overcome metaphysical challenges against numerical identity and the bodily resurrection? I argue that the Stump/Aquinas model accommodates the conflict between Christian dualists and materialists by identifying human persons with both the physical body and the immaterial mind as a single-substance composite. If we think of the disembodied state as a `data backup' and couple the medieval solutions with contemporary terminology, then the Stump/Aquinas model overcomes most of the metaphysical challenges it faces. But, the model ultimately requires a modification to answer the second big question. DNA (as genome or immaterial information) is the configured configurer and part of Aquinas's original concept of the soul as the Aristotelian form of the body. In light of its explanatory power and compatibility with Aquinas' thought, I argue the Stump/Aquinas model, modified with DNA, is a strong contender for a robust philosophical-theological anthropology.