The Metaphysics of Constitution and Accounts of the Resurrection


Correspondence: Department of Philosophy, Heythrop College, University of London, London W8 5HN, UK. Email:


Some Christian materialists have argued for the possibility of resurrection given that persons are constituted by bodies, and constitution is not identity. Baker's constitutionist view claims superiority over animalist alternatives but offers only circular accounts of both personal identity over time and personhood. Corcoran's alternative approaches these questions differently but makes use of Zimmerman's ‘Falling Elevator Model’ of resurrection, which is rendered incoherent by its reliance on contingent identity. A recent constitutionist revision of this model succeeds only in exchanging incoherence for absurdity. Despite difficulties for such resurrection accounts, the idea of constitution as a sui generis relation remains attractive among philosophers and Christian materialists in particular. However, Wasserman's deflationary view combines with problems such as extensionality, indiscernibility and the explosion of reality to provide reason to worry that constitution might be just identity after all. If so, then the metaphysics of constitution cannot provide a convenient route between animalism and immaterialism when explaining the possibility of resurrection.