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Identity

Edited by Chad Carmichael (Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis)
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Summary

Identity is sameness: the relation that holds between each thing and itself, and never holds between two things. Most philosophical issues about identity concern the relationship between identity and other important concepts: time, necessity, personhood, composition (parthood), and vagueness. In addition to these issues, some have suggested that identity is not absolute, but relative, so that we may say two things are the same person or statue, but not the same simpliciter. Finally, there are questions about whether there are informative criteria of identity that settle questions about when identity holds or fails to hold.

Key works

Quine 1950 is a classic piece that treats several of the issues mentioned above. For the relationship between identity and modality, see Kripke 19711980, and Gibbard 1975. On the identity of indiscernibles, see Black 1952 and Adams 1979. Baxter 1988 and Lewis 1991 defend versions of the thesis of composition as identity. See Van Inwagen 1994 for a critique. Evans 1978 argues against vague identity. See Stalnaker 1988 and Parsons & Woodruff 1995 for replies. On relative identity, see Geach 1967, Geach 1980, and Perry 1970.

Introductions See the Stanford Encyclopedia piece on Identity Noonan 2008 for a nice overview of nearly all of these topics. Hawthorne 2003 has an excellent discussion of several of these issues as well. Many of the papers listed above are collected in Kim & Sosa 1999.

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Subcategories:History/traditions: Identity
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  1. L. E. Ballentine (1992). Can One Detect the State of an Individual System? Foundations of Physics 22 (3):333-342.
    Some interpretations of quantum mechanics regard a mixed quantum state as a ensemble, each individual member of which has a definite but unknown state vector. Other interpretations ascribe a state vector only to anensemble of similarly prepared systems, but not to anindividual. Previous attempts to detect the hypothetical individual state vectors have failed, essentially because the state operator (density matrix) enters the relevant equations linearly. An example from nonlinear dynamics, in which a density matrix enters nonlinearly, is examined because it (...)
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  2. J. D. C. (1970). Identity and Difference. Review of Metaphysics 23 (4):742-743.
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  3. Deborah Cook (2005). From the Actual to the Possible: Nonidentity Thinking. Constellations 12 (1):21-35.
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  4. Dennis Dieks (forthcoming). The Logic of Identity: Distinguishability and Indistinguishability in Classical and Quantum Physics. Foundations of Physics:1-15.
    The suggestion that particles of the same kind may be indistinguishable in a fundamental sense, even so that challenges to traditional notions of individuality and identity may arise, has first come up in the context of classical statistical mechanics. In particular, the Gibbs paradox has sometimes been interpreted as a sign of the untenability of the classical concept of a particle and as a premonition that quantum theory is needed. This idea of a ‘quantum connection’ stubbornly persists in the literature, (...)
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  5. Steven French (2006). Identity in Physics: A Historical, Philosophical, and Formal Analysis. Oxford University Press.
    Steven French and Decio Krause examine the metaphysical foundations of quantum physics. They draw together historical, logical, and philosophical perspectives on the fundamental nature of quantum particles and offer new insights on a range of important issues. Focusing on the concepts of identity and individuality, the authors explore two alternative metaphysical views; according to one, quantum particles are no different from books, tables, and people in this respect; according to the other, they most certainly are. Each view comes with certain (...)
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  6. Steven French (1989). Identity and Individuality in Classical and Quantum Physics. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (4):432 – 446.
  7. Imre Garaczi (2010). Identitás És Stratégia. Stratégiakutató Intézet.
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  8. Allen Ginsberg (1984). On a Paradox in Quantum Mechanics. Synthese 61 (3):325 - 349.
  9. Sheldon Goldstein, Are All Particles Identical?
    We consider the possibility that all particles in the world are fundamentally identical, i.e., belong to the same species. Different masses, charges, spins, flavors, or colors then merely correspond to different quantum states of the same particle, just as spin-up and spin-down do. The implications of this viewpoint can be best appreciated within Bohmian mechanics, a precise formulation of quantum mechanics with particle trajectories. The implementation of this viewpoint in such a theory leads to trajectories different from those of the (...)
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  10. Nick Huggett (1997). Identity, Quantum Mechanics and Common Sense. The Monist 80 (1):118-130.
  11. Larsson Jan-Åke (2008). Quantum Mechanics at the Crossroads, James Evans, Alan S. Thorndike. Springer, Berlin (2007). 249pp., Hardcover, US$ 69.95, ISBN: 978-3-540-32663-. [REVIEW] Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 39 (1):229-230.
  12. Ludger Jansen (2011). The Ship of Theseus. In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  13. Ludger Jansen (2007). Larry Ackerman, The Identity Code. [REVIEW] Metapsychology 11.
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  14. Ludger Jansen (2004). Ulf Hedetoft, Mette Hjort (Hgg.), The Postnational Self. Belonging and Identity. [REVIEW] Meta­Psychology 7.
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  15. Ludger Jansen (2002). Amin Maalouf, In the Name of Identity. Violence and the Need to Belong. [REVIEW] Meta­Psychology 6.
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  16. D. Kolak & J. Symons (eds.) (2004). Quantifiers, Questions and Quantum Physics. Springer.
    This volume gathers together essays from some of Hintikka’s colleagues and former students exploring his influence on their work and pursuing some of the insights that we have found in his work. This book includes a comprehensive overview of Hintikka’s philosophy by Dan Kolak and John Symons and an annotated bibliography of Hintikka’s work. Table of Contents: Foreword; Daniel Kolak and John Symons. Hintikka on Epistemological Axiomatizations; Vincent F. Hendricks. Hintikka on the Problem with the Problem of Transworld Identity; Troy (...)
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  17. Décio Krause & Steven French (1995). A Formal Framework for Quantum Non-Individuality. Synthese 102 (1):195 - 214.
    H. Post's conception of quantal particles as non-individuals is set in a formal logico-mathematical framework. By means of this approach certain metaphysical implications of quantum mechanics can be further explored.
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  18. Shaughan Lavine (1991). Is Quantum Mechanics an Atomistic Theory? Synthese 89 (2):253 - 271.
    If quantum mechanics (QM) is to be taken as an atomistic theory with the elementary particles as atoms (an ATEP), then the elementary particlcs must be individuals. There must then be, for each elementary particle a, a property being identical with a that a alone has. But according to QM, elementary particles of the same kind share all physical properties. Thus, if QM is an ATEP, identity is a metaphysical but not a physical property. That has unpalatable consequences. Dropping the (...)
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  19. Ej Lowe (2000). Review. Interpreting Bodies: Classical and Quantum Objects in Modern Physics. E Castellani [Ed]. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (2):353-355.
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Contingent Identity
  1. Ralf M. Bader (2012). The Non-Transitivity of the Contingent and Occasional Identity Relations. Philosophical Studies 157 (1):141-152.
    This paper establishes that the occasional identity relation and the contingent identity relation are both non-transitive and as such are not properly classified as identity relations. This is achieved by appealing to cases where multiple fissions and fusions occur simultaneously. These cases show that the contingent and occasional identity relations do not even satisfy the time-indexed and world-indexed versions of the transitivity requirement and hence are non-transitive relations.
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  2. Lynne Rudder Baker (1999). Unity Without Identity: A New Look at Material Constitution. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23 (1):144–165.
    relation between, say, a lump of clay and a statue that it makes up, or between a red and white piece of metal and a stop sign, or between a person and her body? Assuming that there is a single relation between members of each of these pairs, is the relation “strict” identity, “contingent” identity or something else?1 Although this question has generated substantial controversy recently,2 I believe that there is philo- sophical gain to be had from thinking through the (...)
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  3. Andrew Brennan (1986). Best Candidates and Theories of Identity. Inquiry 29 (1-4):423-438.
    Attacks on ?closest continuer? and ?best candidate? theories of identity have something correct in them while still failing to discredit the theories they oppose. What follows from Noonan's and Wiggins's objections to such theories is that they need to be so formulated as not to deny the necessity of identity. The best metaphysics for best?candidate theories to adopt is one in which everyday objects are taken to transcend, in a certain sense, their life histories in given worlds. This metaphysics also (...)
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  4. W. R. Carter (1982). On Contingent Identity and Temporal Worms. Philosophical Studies 41 (2):213 - 230.
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  5. William R. Carter (1987). Contingent Identity and Rigid Designation. Mind 96 (382):250-255.
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  6. Albert Casullo (1984). The Contingent Identity of Particulars and Universals. Mind 93 (372):527-541.
    The primary purpose of this paper is to argue that particulars in the actual world are nothing but complexes of universals. I begin by briefly presenting bertrand russell's version of this view and exposing its primary difficulty. I then examine the key assumption which leads russell to difficulty and show that it is mistaken. The rejection of this assumption forms the basis of an alternative version of the view which is articulated and defended.
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  7. Pablo Cobreros, Paul Egré, David Ripley & Robert van Rooij (2013). Identity, Leibniz's Law and Non-Transitive Reasoning. Metaphysica 14 (2):253-264.
    Arguments based on Leibniz's Law seem to show that there is no room for either indefinite or contingent identity. The arguments seem to prove too much, but their conclusion is hard to resist if we want to keep Leibniz's Law. We present a novel approach to this issue, based on an appropriate modification of the notion of logical consequence.
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  8. B. Jack Copeland (2000). Indeterminate Identity, Contingent Identity, and Property Identity, Aristotelian-Style. Philosophical Topics 28 (1):11-25.
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  9. Andre Gallois (1988). Carter on Contingent Identity and Rigid Designation. Mind 97 (386):273-278.
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  10. André Gallois (1986). Rigid Designation and the Contingency of Identity. Mind 95 (377):57-76.
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  11. Allan Gibbard (1975). Contingent Identity. Journal of Philosophical Logic 4 (2):187-222.
    Identities formed with proper names may be contingent. this claim is made first through an example. the paper then develops a theory of the semantics of concrete things, with contingent identity as a consequence. this general theory lets concrete things be made up canonically from fundamental physical entities. it includes theories of proper names, variables, cross-world identity with respect to a sortal, and modal and dispositional properties. the theory, it is argued, is coherent and superior to its rivals, in that (...)
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  12. Irwin Goldstein (2004). Neural Materialism, Pain's Badness, and a Posteriori Identities. In Maite Ezcurdia, Robert Stainton & Christopher Viger (eds.), New Essays in the Philosophy of Language and Mind. University of Calgary Press. 261-273.
    Orthodox neural materialists think mental states are neural events or orthodox material properties of neutral events. Orthodox material properties are defining properties of the “physical”. A “defining property” of the physical is a type of property that provides a necessary condition for something’s being correctly termed “physical”. In this paper I give an argument against orthodox neural materialism. If successful, the argument would show at least some properties of some mental states are not orthodox material properties of neural events. Opposing (...)
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  13. Tobias Hansson Wahlberg (2011). Can Persistence Be a Matter of Convention? Axiomathes 21 (4):507-529.
    This paper asks whether persistence can be a matter of convention. It argues that in a rather unexciting de dicto sense persistence is indeed a matter of convention, but it rejects the notion that persistence can be a matter of convention in a more substantial de re sense. However, scenarios can be imagined that appear to involve conventional persistence of the latter kind. Since there are strong reasons for thinking that such conventionality is impossible, it is desirable that our metaphysical-cum-semantic (...)
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  14. Toomas Karmo (1983). Contingent Non-Identity. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (2):185 – 187.
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  15. Rosanna Keefe (1995). Contingent Identity and Vague Identity. Analysis 55 (3):183 - 190.
    Evan's influential argument against vague objects (_Analysis, 1978) has a parallel directed against contingent identity. I argue that Noonan failed in his attempt to accept Evans's argument but save contingent identity by establishing a disanalogy between the two arguments (in The Philosophical Quarterly 1991). Instead, I suggest an alternative way to block the argument against contingent identity and argue that its analogue provides a satisfactory response to Evans's original argument.
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  16. John L. King (1978). Chandler on Contingent Identity. Analysis 38 (3):135 - 136.
    In his article "rigid designation" ("journal of philosophy", Volume lxxii, Pages 363-9) hugh s chandler presents an alleged counterexample to the principles that proper names are rigid designators and that identity statements using proper names as designators are non-Contingent. In the present paper this counterexample is shown to rest on a tacit assumption which the principles' proponents need not accept. Chandler's example is redescribed in a way which is both plausible and compatible with the two principles.
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  17. Saul A. Kripke (1980/1998). Naming and Necessity. Harvard University Press.
  18. Saul A. Kripke (1971). Identity and Necessity. In Milton K. Munitz (ed.), Identity and Individuation. New York University Press. 135-164.
    are synthetic a priori judgements possible?" In both cases, i~thas usually been t'aken for granted in fife one case by Kant that synthetic a priori judgements were possible, and in the other case in contemporary,'d-". philosophical literature that contingent statements of identity are ppss. ible. I do not intend to deal with the Kantian question except to mention:ssj~",.
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  19. Jerrold Levinson (1988). A Note on Categorical Properties and Contingent Identity. Journal of Philosophy 85 (12):718-722.
    Stephen Yablo has attempted recently to revive the notion of contingent identity, identifying this with a relation of L coincidence between objects that are "distinct by nature but the same in the circumstances" (296). Yablo argues convincingly for the need of essentialist metaphysics to recognize some relation of this sort, a relation of "intimate identity-like connections between things" (296) if it is to acknowledge properly the intuitive difference between (i) the nonidentity of a bust B and a hunk of wax (...)
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  20. David Lewis (1971). Counterparts of Persons and Their Bodies. Journal of Philosophy 68 (7):203-211.
  21. Ofra Magidor (2011). Arguments by Leibniz’s Law in Metaphysics. Philosophy Compass 6 (3):180-195.
    Leibniz’s Law (or as it sometimes called, ‘the Indiscerniblity of Identicals’) is a widely accepted principle governing the notion of numerical identity. The principle states that if a is identical to b, then any property had by a is also had by b. Leibniz’s Law may seem like a trivial principle, but its apparent consequences are far from trivial. The law has been utilised in a wide range of arguments in metaphysics, many leading to substantive and controversial conclusions. This article (...)
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  22. Don Merrell (2011). Polger on the Illusion of Contingent Identity. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 19 (4):593 - 602.
    Abstract Thomas Polger has argued in favour of the mind?brain type?identity theory, the view that mental states or processes are type?identical to states of the central nervous system. Acknowledging that the type?materialist must respond to Kripke?s modal anti?materialist argument, Polger insists that Kripke?s argument rests on dubious assumptions concerning the identity conditions of brain states. In brief, Polger claims that one knows that x and y are non?identical when one knows the identity conditions for both x and y. Replace x (...)
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  23. Harold W. Noonan (1991). Indeterminate Identity, Contingent Identity and Abelardian Predicates. Philosophical Quarterly 41 (163):183-193.
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  24. Zane Parks (1974). Semantics for Contingent Identity Systems. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 15 (2):333-334.
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  25. Thomas W. Polger, Kripke and the Illusion of Contingent Identity.
    Saul Kripke’s (1971, 1972) modal essentialist argument against materialism remains an obstacle to any prospective Identity Theorist. This paper is an attempt to make room for an Identity Theory without dismissing Kripke’s analytic tools or essentialist intuitions. I propose an explanatory model that can make room for the Identity Theory within the constraints of Kripke’s view; the model is based on ideas from Alan Sidelle’s, “Identity and Identity-like” (1992). My model explains the apparent contingency of some scientific identities by appealing (...)
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  26. Murali Ramachandran (2008). Kripkean Counterpart Theory. Polish Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):89-106.
    David Lewis’s counterpart-theoretic semantics for quantified modal logic is motivated originally by worries about identifying objects across possible worlds; the counterpart relation is grounded more cautiously on comparative similarity. The possibility of contingent identity is an unsought -- and in some eyes, unwelcome -- consequence of this approach. In this paper I motivate a Kripkean counterpart theory by way of defending the prior, pre-theoretical, coherence of contingent directness. Contingent identity follows for free. The theory is Kripkean in that the counterpart (...)
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  27. Murali Ramachandran (1990). Contingent Identity in Counterpart Theory. Analysis 50 (3):163-166.
    A slight modification to the translation scheme for David Lewis's counterpart theory I put forward in 'An Alternative Translation Scheme for Counterpart Theory' (Analysis 49.3 (1989)) is proposed. The motivation for this change is that it makes for a more plausible account of contingent identity. In particular, contingent identity is accommodated without admitting the contingency of self-identity.
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  28. R. Stanton, M. Ezcurdia & C. Viger (eds.) (2004). New Essays in Philosophy of Language and Mind, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 30. University of Calgary Press.
  29. Jim Stone (2009). Moderate Monism: Reply to Noonan and Mackie. Analysis 69 (1):91-95.
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  30. Norman M. Swartz (1974). Can the Theory of Contingent Identity Between Sensation-States and Brain-States Be Made Empirical? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (March):405-17.
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  31. J. Teichmann (1967). The Contingent Identity of Minds and Brains. Mind 76 (July):404-15.
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