About this topic
Summary The literature on personal identity is vast, and it incorporates a grab-bag of varying approaches, theses, and conceptual understandings.  It is very loosely unified by investigations into the "identities" of "persons," but these are concepts with multiple senses.  This category reflects that diversity.
Key works Alongside discussions of key historical works by John Locke and David Hume (see Perry 1975), investigation into personal identity of many stripes in the contemporary literature has been led by Shoemaker 1963, Williams 1973, Parfit 1984, Noonan 1989, Schechtman 1996, Olson 1997, among others.
Introductions Good introductions in Perry 1975, Rorty 1976, and Olson 2002.
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  1. F. A. Matsen, Barry Whitney, Herb Vetter & Don Viney (1998). Whitney Discussion. The Personalist Forum 14 (2).
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  2. B. W. A. (1982). You, I and the Others. Review of Metaphysics 35 (3):638-639.
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  3. B. W. A. (1982). You, I and the Others. Review of Metaphysics 35 (3):638-639.
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  4. Fernando Aguiar, Pablo Brañas-Garza, Maria Paz Espinosa & Luis M. Miller (2010). Personal Identity: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis. Journal of Economic Methodology 17 (3):261-275.
    This paper aims to analyze the role of personal identity in altruism. To this end, it starts by reviewing critically the growing literature on economics and identity. Considering the ambiguities that the concept of social identity poses, our proposal focuses on the concept of personal identity. A formal model to study how personal identity enters in individuals' utility function when facing a dictator game decision is then presented. Finally, this ?identity-based? utility function is studied experimentally. The experiment allows us to (...)
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  5. Roman Altshuler (forthcoming). Immortality, Identity, and Desirability. In Michael Cholbi (ed.), Immortality and the Philosophy of Death. Rowman & Littlefield
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  6. Se-Gweon An (1990). Intentionality, Time, and Self-Identity: Husserl's Theory of Time and the Problem of Personal Identity. Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
    In this dissertation I raise three questions: What is Husserl's theory of time?; Can we develop a particular thesis of self-identity and, if so, what would it look like?; How does the thesis work in relation to the problems that are to be solved? ;In chapter II, I give an exposition of Husserl's view on time with the purpose of establishing a framework that will play a decisive role in the formation of a thesis of self-identity. Husserl defines time as (...)
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  7. Pamela S. Anderson (1992). A Question of Personal Identity. The Personalist Forum 8 (1):55-68.
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  8. Gabriel Andrade (2011). Immortality. In James Fieser & Bradley Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Immortality is the indefinite continuation of a person’s existence, even after death. In common parlance, immortality is virtually indistinguishable from afterlife, but philosophically speaking, they are not identical. Afterlife is the continuation of existence after death, regardless of whether or not that continuation is indefinite. Immortality implies a never-ending existence, regardless of whether or not the body dies (as a matter of fact, some hypothetical medical technologies offer the prospect of a bodily immortality, but not an afterlife). Immortality has been (...)
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  9. Jonny Anomaly (2008). Personal Identity and Practical Reason. Dialogue 47 (02):331-.
    ABSTRACT: This essay examines and criticizes a set of Kantian objections to Parfit's attempt in Reasons and Persons to connect his theory of personal identity to practical rationality and moral philosophy. Several of Parfit's critics have tried to sever the link he forges between his metaphysical and practical conclusions by invoking the Kantian thought that even if we accept his metaphysical theory of personal identity, we still have good practical grounds for rejecting that theory when deliberating about what to do. (...)
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  10. Keith Arnold (1989). Personal Identity: The Galton Details. Philosophia 19 (1):35-44.
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  11. Margaret Atherton (1983). Locke's Theory of Personal Identity. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 8 (1):273-293.
  12. Kim Atkins (2011). You've Changed: Sex Reassignment and Personal Identity. Edited by Laurie J. Shrage. Hypatia 26 (4):877-881.
  13. Bruce Aune (1983). The Identity of the Self. Review of Metaphysics 36 (3):724-726.
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  14. James Baillie (1993). Problems in Personal Identity. New York: Paragon House.
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  15. James Baillie (1993). Recent Work on Personal Identity. Philosophical Books 34 (4):193-206.
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  16. James Baillie (1990). The Problem of Personal Identity. Cogito 4 (2):106-112.
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  17. Mark Bajakian (2011). How to Count People. Philosophical Studies 154 (2):185 - 204.
    How should we count people who have two cerebral hemispheres that cooperate to support one mental life at the level required for personhood even though each hemisphere can be disconnected from the other and support its "own" divergent mental life at that level? On the standard method of counting people, there is only one person sitting in your chair and thinking your thoughts even if you have two cerebral hemispheres of this kind. Is this method accurate? In this paper, I (...)
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  18. Lynne Rudder Baker (2002). Review: Précis of Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (3):592 - 598.
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  19. David Barnett, Chitchat on Personal Identity.
    Jitney and her grown twin brother, Cletus, are cleaning out their mother’s attic. Cletus has found a photograph of a child with a squirrel in one hand, a meatball in the other, and a nametag that reads ‘Kid’. Cletus and Jitney mull over the photo from the comfort of two ragtag armchairs.
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  20. David Barnett (2010). You Are Simple. In Robert C. Koons & George Bealer (eds.), The Waning of Materialism. Oxford University Press 161--174.
    I argue that, unlike your brain, you are not composed of other things: you are simple. My argument centers on what I take to be an uncontroversial datum: for any pair of conscious beings, it is impossible for the pair itself to be conscious. Consider, for instance, the pair comprising you and me. You might pinch your arm and feel a pain. I might simultaneously pinch my arm and feel a qualitatively identical pain. But the pair we form would not (...)
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  21. Joe Barnhart (1999). Shakespeare's Invention. The Personalist Forum 15 (2):366-372.
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  22. John Barresi, The Rise and Fall of the Conscious Self: A History of Western Concepts of Self and Personal Identity.
    I will trace the history of western conceptions of soul and self from the ancient Greeks to the present. The story line that I will present is based mainly on material covered in two books by Ray Martin and myself: _The Naturalization of the Soul: Self and Personal Identity in the_.
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  23. Donald L. M. Baxter (1998). Hume's Labyrinth Concerning the Idea of Personal Identity. Hume Studies 24 (2):203-233.
    In the Treatise Hume argues that the self is really many related perceptions, which we represent to ourselves as being one and the same thing. In the Appendix he finds this account inconsistent. Why? The problem arises from Hume's theory that representation requires resemblance. Only a many can represent a many recognized as such, and only a one can represent something as one. So for the many distinct perceptions (recognized as such) to be represented as one and the same, the (...)
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  24. Françoise Baylis (2013). “I Am Who I Am”: On the Perceived Threats to Personal Identity From Deep Brain Stimulation. [REVIEW] Neuroethics 6 (3):513-526.
    This article explores the notion of the dislocated self following deep brain stimulation (DBS) and concludes that when personal identity is understood in dynamic, narrative, and relational terms, the claim that DBS is a threat to personal identity is deeply problematic. While DBS may result in profound changes in behaviour, mood and cognition (characteristics closely linked to personality), it is not helpful to characterize DBS as threatening to personal identity insofar as this claim is either false, misdirected or trivially true. (...)
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  25. Timothy J. Bayne (2001). The Inclusion Model of the Incarnation: Problems and Prospects. Religious Studies 37 (2):125-141.
    Thomas Morris and Richard Swinburne have recently defended what they call the ‘two-minds’ model of the Incarnation. This model, which I refer to as the ‘inclusion model’ or ‘inclusionism’, claims that Christ had two consciousnesses, a human and a divine consciousness, with the former consciousness contained within the latter one. I begin by exploring the motivation for, and structure of, inclusionism. I then develop a variety of objections to it: some philosophical, others theological in nature. Finally, I sketch a variant (...)
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  26. Tom L. Beauchamp (1978). Personal Identity. The Monist 61 (2):326-339.
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  27. Simon Beck (2014). Transplant Thought-Experiments: Two Costly Mistakes in Discounting Them. South African Journal of Philosophy-Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif Vir Wysbegeerte 33 (2):189-199.
    ‘Transplant’ thought-experiments, in which the cerebrum is moved from one body to another have featured in a number of recent discussions in the personal identity literature. Once taken as offering confirmation of some form of psychological continuity theory of identity, arguments from Marya Schechtman and Kathleen Wilkes have contended that this is not the case. Any such apparent support is due to a lack of detail in their description or a reliance on predictions that we are in no position to (...)
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  28. Simon Beck (2013). Understanding Ourselves Better. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (1):51-55.
    Marya Schechtman and Grant Gillett acknowledge that my case in ‘The misunderstandings of the Self-Understanding View’ (2013) has some merits, but neither is moved to change their position and accept that the Psychological View has more going for it (and the Self-Understanding View less) than Schechtman originally contended. Schechtman thinks her case could be better expressed, and then the deficiencies of the Psychological View will be manifest. That view is committed to Locke’s insight about the importance of phenomenological connections to (...)
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  29. Simon Beck (2013). Am I My Brother's Keeper? On Personal Identity and Responsibility. South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (1):1-9.
    The psychological continuity theory of personal identity has recently been accused of not meeting what is claimed to be a fundamental requirement on theories of identity - to explain personal moral responsibility. Although they often have much to say about responsibility, the charge is that they cannot say enough. I set out the background to the charge with a short discussion of Locke and the requirement to explain responsibility, then illustrate the accusation facing the theory with details from Marya Schechtman. (...)
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  30. Simon Beck (2013). The Misunderstandings of the Self-Understanding View. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (1):33-42.
    There are two currently popular but quite different ways of answering the question of what constitutes personal identity: the one is usually called the psychological continuity theory (or Psychological View) and the other the narrative theory.1 Despite their differences, they do both claim to be providing an account—the correct account—of what makes someone the same person over time. Marya Schechtman has presented an important argument in this journal (Schechtman 2005) for a version of the narrative view (the ‘Self-Understanding View’) over (...)
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  31. Simon Beck (2010). Morals, Metaphysics and the Method of Cases. South African Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):332-342.
    In this paper I discuss a set of problems concerning the method of cases as it is used in applied ethics and in the metaphysical debate about personal identity. These problems stem from research in social psychology concerning our access to the data with which the method operates. I argue that the issues facing ethics are more worrying than those facing metaphysics.
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  32. Simon Beck (2009). Martha Nussbaum and the Foundations of Ethics: Identity, Morality and Thought-Experiments. South African Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):261-270.
    Martha Nussbaum has argued in support of the view (supposedly that of Aristotle) that we can, through thought-experiments involving personal identity, find an objective foundation for moral thought without having to appeal to any authority independent of morality. I compare the thought-experiment from Plato’s Philebus that she presents as an example to other thought-experiments involving identity in the literature and argue that this reveals a tension between the sources of authority which Nussbaum invokes for her thought-experiment. I also argue that (...)
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  33. Simon Beck (2006). These Bizarre Fictions: Thought-Experiments, Our Psychology and Our Selves. Philosophical Papers 35 (1):29-54.
    Philosophers have traditionally used thought-experiments in their endeavours to find a satisfactory account of the self and personal identity. Yet there are considerations from empirical psychology as well as related ones from philosophy itself that appear to completely undermine the method of thought-experiment. This paper focuses on both sets of considerations and attempts a defence of the method.
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  34. Simon Beck (2000). Points of Concern. Theoria 47 (96):121-130.
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  35. Simon Beck (1999). Leibniz, Locke and I. Cogito 13 (3):181-187.
  36. Simon Beck (1992). The Method of Possible Worlds. Metaphilosophy 23 (1-2):119-131.
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  37. Ansgar Beckermann, Personal Identity and Metaphysics.
    The traditional philosophical problems surrounding the issue of personal identity arise from trying to answer the following series of questions in a systematic way1. Given a person X, we want to know: (1) With which past and future entities is X (numerically) identical? (2) Which facts determine the answer to (1)?
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  38. Kathy Behrendt (2005). Impersonal Identity and Corrupting Concepts. Southern Journal of Philosophy 43 (2):159-188.
    How does the concept of a person affect our beliefs about ourselves and the world? In an intriguing recent addition to his established Reductionist view of personal identity, Derek Parfit speculates that there could be beings who do not possess the concept of a person. Where we talk and think about persons, selves, subjects, or agents, they talk and think about sequences of thoughts and experiences related to a particular brain and body. Nevertheless their knowledge and experience of the world (...)
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  39. Jonathan Berg, Ruth Weintrab, Irwin Goldstein & Finngeir Hiorth (1993). Book Reviews. [REVIEW] Philosophia 22 (1-2):195-210.
    Identity, Consciousness, and Value, by Peter Unger.
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  40. David Berman (2001). Book Review. Naturalization of the Soul: Self and Personal Identity in the Eighteenth Century Raymond Martin John Barresi. [REVIEW] Mind 110 (438):508-512.
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  41. Jose Luis Bermudez (1995). Aspects of the Self: John Campbell's Past, Space, and Self. Inquiry 38 (4):1-15.
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  42. Renatas Berniunas & Vilius Dranseika (forthcoming). Folk Concepts of Person and Identity: A Response to Nichols and Bruno. Philosophical Psychology.
    In a paper in Philosophical Psychology, Nichols & Bruno (2010) claim that the folk judge that psychological continuity is necessary for personal identity. In this article we attempt to evaluate this claim. First, we argue that it is likely that in thinking about hypothetical cases of transformations folk do not use a unitary concept of personal identity but rely on different concepts of a person and of identity of an individual. Identity can be ascribed even when post-transformation individuals are no (...)
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  43. Andreas Blank (2006). Michael Tye, Consciousness and Persons. Unity and Identity. Pragmatics and Cognition 14 (1):188-191.
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  44. Adam Blatner, Randall Auxier, Tim Eastman, George Lucas & William Reese (1998). Auxier Discussion. The Personalist Forum 14 (2):133-140.
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  45. Adam Blatner, George Lucas, Marcus Clayton, Ed Towne, Chuck Krecz & Charles Goodman (1998). Myers Discussion. The Personalist Forum 14 (2):191-198.
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  46. Stephan Blatti (2008). The Rise and Fall of Soul and Self: An Intellectual History of Personal Identity (Review). [REVIEW] Mind 117 (465):191-95.
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  47. Stephan Blatti (2008). Review: Raymond Martin and John Barresi: The Rise and Fall of Soul and Self: An Intellectual History of Personal Identity. [REVIEW] Mind 117 (465):191-195.
    This is a review of Raymond Martin and John Barresi's The Rise and Fall of Soul and Self: An Intellectual History of Personal Identity (Columbia University Press, 2006).
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  48. Stephan Blatti (2007). Animalism, Dicephalus, and Borderline Cases. Philosophical Psychology 20 (5):595-608.
    The rare condition known as dicephalus occurs when (prior to implantation) a zygote fails to divide completely, resulting in twins who are conjoined below the neck. Human dicephalic twins look like a two-headed person, with each brain supporting a distinct mental life. Jeff McMahan has recently argued that, because they instance two of us but only one animal, dicephalic twins provide a counterexample to the animalist's claim that each of us is identical with a human animal. To the contrary, I (...)
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  49. Jeffrey Blustein (1999). Choosing for Others as Continuing a Life Story: The Problem of Personal Identity Revisited. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 27 (1):20-31.
  50. Marc Bobro (1999). Is Leibniz's Theory of Personal Identity Coherent? The Leibniz Review 9:117-129.
    "In this paper, I shall consider the several ways in which interpreters, since 1976, have attempted to challenge the premises of Wilson's argument, and so have tried to rescue Leibniz's theory from Wilson's charge of incoherence. I shall argue that only one of these ways stands any chance of being successful." (S. 117/118)\nDiskussion zu Margaret Wilson: Leibniz : self-consciousness and immortality in the Paris notes and after. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 58 (1976), S. 335 - 352 (vgl. M 2, (...)
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