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Persons

Edited by David Shoemaker (Tulane University)
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Summary The metaphysics of personhood primarily addresses two questions: what is the nature of persons and what are their persistence conditions across time?  Addressing the former question prompts investigations into the nature of the self (if distinct from the person), consciousness, mind, and embodiment.  Addressing the latter prompts investigations into theories of personal identity.  Because many view "person"as a thoroughly normative notion, however, its study is often connected closely to investigations into value and practical identity.
Key works Primarily metaphysical investigations into personhood are taken up repeatedly by major figures throughout the history of philosophy, from Plato to Descartes to Kant.  In the contemporary literature, there are clear discussions by Baker 2000, Olson 2007, Shoemaker 1963, and Van Inwagen 2001. Personhood as a normative ("forensic") concept was introduced by John Locke, in "Of Identity and Diversity" (see Perry 1975).  Contemporary normatively-based explorations of personhood include Frankfurt 1971 and Korsgaard 1989
Introductions Gallagher 2011, Martin, Raymond and Barresi, John, eds., Personal Identity (2003).
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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Persons
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  1. Yoko Arisaka (2001). The Ontological Co-Emergence Of'self and Other'in Japanese Philosophy. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (5-7):5-7.
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  2. Stephen T. Asma (2012). Affective Neuroscience and the Philosophy of Self. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19.
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  3. Bruce Aune (1983). The Identity of the Self. Review of Metaphysics 36 (3):724-726.
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  4. R. J. B. (1970). Principles and Persons. Review of Metaphysics 24 (2):343-343.
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  5. Peter A. Bertocci (1961). The Moral Structure of the Person. Review of Metaphysics 14 (3):369 - 388.
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  6. Susan Blackmore (1994). Demolishing the Self. Journal of Consciousness Studies 1 (2):280-282.
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  7. Andreas Blank (2006). Michael Tye, Consciousness and Persons. Unity and Identity. Pragmatics and Cognition 14 (1):188-191.
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  8. A. S. C. (1971). Bradley's Metaphysics and the Self. Review of Metaphysics 25 (2):373-373.
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  9. A. S. C. (1971). The Problem of the Self. Review of Metaphysics 25 (2):356-356.
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  10. A. S. C. (1971). The Problem of the Self. Review of Metaphysics 25 (2):356-356.
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  11. Jonathan Cole (1997). On 'Being Faceless': Selfhood and Facial Embodiment. Journal of Consciousness Studies 4 (5-6):5-6.
    For most people a sense of self includes an embodied component: when describing our selves we describe those aspects of our physical bodies which can be easily codified: height, hair colour, sex, eye colour. Even when we consider ourselves we tend not to consider our intellectual cognitive characteristics but our describable anatomy. Wittgenstein's dictum, ‘the human body is the best picture of the human soul’, is relevant here but I would like to go further: the body-part we feel most embodied (...)
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  12. Robin S. Dillon (2007). Arrogance, Self-Respect and Personhood. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 5-6):101-126.
    This essay aims to show that arrogance corrupts the very qualities that make persons persons. The corruption is subtle but profound, and the key to understanding it lies in understanding the connections between different kinds of arrogance, self-respect, respect for others and personhood. Making these connections clear is the second aim of this essay. It will build on Kant's claim that self-respect is central to living our human lives as persons and that arrogance is, at its core, the failure to (...)
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  13. Jonathan Edelmann (2007). Setting Criteria for Ideal Reincarnation Research. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (12):92-101.
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  14. Shaun Gallagher & Jonathan Shear (1997). Models of the Self: Editors' Introduction. Journal of Consciousness Studies 4 (5-6):5-6.
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  15. Adam Green (2012). Perceiving Persons. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (3-4):3-4.
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  16. Richard Hallam (2012). A Mind-Less Self Ontogenesis and Phylogenesis. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (3-4):3-4.
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  17. Heikki Ikaheimo & A. Laitinen (2007). Dimensions of Personhood. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 5-6):6-16.
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  18. G. Jeff (1999). Lenore Thomson, Personality Type. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6:122-122.
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  19. Raya A. Jones (2006). The Person Still Comes First: The Continuing Musical Self in Dementia. Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (3):73-93.
    It is well known anecdotally that, for many people in dementia, the appreciation of music outlasts other faculties. Could the residual musicality constitute a 'musical self', an enduring fragment of the person that the sufferer used to be? The question, as far we know, has not been raised before. Towards formulating the hypothesis, this article examines some of the available research and theorizing concerning the self and the neurology of music and dementia. A unified neurocognitive 'musical self' system seems plausible, (...)
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  20. Arto Laitinen (2007). Sorting Out Aspects of Personhood:Capacities, Normativity and Recognition. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 5-6):248-270.
    This paper examines how three central aspects of personhood -- the capacities of individuals, their normative status, and the social aspect of being recognized -- are related, and how personhood depends on them. The paper defends first of all a 'basic view' that while actual recognition is among the constitutive elements of full personhood, it is the individual capacities (and not full personhood) which ground the basic moral and normative demands concerning treatment of persons. Actual recognition depends analytically on such (...)
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  21. Maria Legerstee (1998). Mental and Bodily Awareness in Infancy: Consciousness of Self-Existence. Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (5-6):5-6.
    In this article, I will draw on my own work and related publications to present some intuitions and hypotheses about the nature of the self and the mechanisms that lead to the development of consciousness or self awareness in human infants during the first 6 months of life. My main purpose is to show that the origins of a concept of self include the physical and the mental selves. I believe that it is essential when trying to understand what a (...)
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  22. Kym Maclaren (2008). Embodied Perceptions of Others as a Condition of Selfhood? Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (8):63-93.
    Against recent claims that infants begin with a sense of themselves as distinct selves, I propose that the infant's initial sense of self is still indeterminate and ambiguous, and is only progressively consolidated, beginning with embodied perceptions of others. Drawing upon Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of perception and Hegel's notion of mutual recognition, and with reference to empirical studies in developmental psychology, I argue that perceiving other persons is significantly different from perceiving inanimate things. Until sufficient motor capacities have developed for exploring (...)
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  23. Jack Martin (2012). Agent Causation and Compatibilism Reconsidered The Evolutionary and Developmental Emergence of Self-Determining Persons. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (5-6):5-6.
  24. Jaak Panksepp (1998). The Periconscious Substrates of Consciousness: Affective States and the Evolutionary Origins of the SELF. Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (5-6):5-6.
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  25. Philip Pettit (2005). Group Agency and Supervenience. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (Supplement):85-105.
    Can groups be rational agents over and above their individual members? We argue that group agents are distinguished by their capacity to mimic the way in which individual agents act and that this capacity must “supervene” on the group members’ contributions. But what is the nature of this supervenience relation? Focusing on group judgments, we argue that, for a group to be rational, its judgment on a particular proposition cannot generally be a function of the members’ individual judgments on that (...)
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  26. John Pickering (2010). Review of Virtual Selves, Real Persons: A Dialogue Across Disciplines, by Hallam, RS. [REVIEW] Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (9-10):259-262.
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  27. John Pickering (1999). The Self is a Semiotic Process. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (4):31-47.
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  28. Jennifer Radden (2013). The Self and Its Moods in Depression and Mania. Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (7-8):7-8.
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  29. Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer (2007). Persons and Practices: Kant and Hegel on Human Sapience. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 5-6):174-198.
    Man's rational capacities rest on education and this makes the form of human sapience interpersonal. As persons, however, we do not take part in the tradition of sapience only passively. That is, mere rationality in Kant's sense, i.e. the faculty of following implicit norms or explicit rules, is not enough for personhood. It requires also reason in Hegel's sense, i.e. free active participation in developing 'the idea' (eventually of good human life), as well as 'the concept', i.e. joint generic knowledge (...)
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  30. Jun Tani (1998). An Interpretation of Theself'from the Dynamical Systems Perspective: A Constructivist Approach. Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (5-6):5-6.
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Theories of Personal Identity
Psychological Theories of Personal Identity
  1. Nicholas Agar (2003). Functionalism and Personal Identity. Noûs 37 (1):52-70.
    Sydney Shoemaker has claimed that functionalism, a theory\nabout mental states, implies a certain theory about the\nidentity over time of persons, the entities that have\nmental states. He also claims that persons can survive a\n"Brain-State-Transfer" procedure. My examination of these\nclaims includes description and analysis of imaginary\ncases, but--notably--not appeals to our "intuitions"\nconcerning them. It turns out that Shoemaker's basic\ninsight is correct. But there is no implication that it is\nnecessary. (edited).
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  2. George J. Agich & Royce P. Jones (1986). Personal Identity and Brain Death: A Critical Response. Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (3):267-274.
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  3. Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir (2010). Functionalism and Thinking Animals. Philosophical Studies 147 (3):347 - 354.
    Lockean accounts of personal identity face a problem of too many thinkers arising from their denial that we are identical to our animals and the assumption that our animals can think. Sydney Shoemaker has responded to this problem by arguing that it is a consequence of functionalism that only things with psychological persistence conditions can have mental properties, and thus that animals cannot think. I discuss Shoemaker’s argument and demonstrate two ways in which it fails. Functionalism does not rid the (...)
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  4. James Baillie (1997). Personal Identity and Mental Content. Philosophical Psychology 10 (3):323-33.
    In this paper, I attempt to map out the 'logical geography' of the territory in which issues of mental content and of personal identity meet. In particular, I investigate the possibility of combining a psychological criterion of personal identity with an externalist theory of content. I argue that this can be done, but only by accepting an assumption that has been widely accepted but barely argued for, namely that when someone switches linguistic communities, the contents of their thoughts do not (...)
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  5. Lynne Baker (2007). Persons and Other Things. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 5-6):17-36.
    In the large recent literature on the nature of human persons, persons are usually studied in isolation from the world in which they live. What persons are most fundamentally, philosophers say, are human animals, or brains, or perhaps souls -- without any consideration of the social and physical environments without which persons would not exist. In this article, I want to compensate for such overly narrow focus. Instead of beginning with the nature of persons cut off from any environment, I (...)
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  6. Lynne Rudder Baker, “What Does It Mean to Be One of Us?” A Response to Bransen.
    Bransen takes the first question to pose “the problem of man’s uniqueness,” and his ultimate aim is to dissolve that problem. His method of dissolving it is by way of a detailed answer to the second question, which is the most fundamental. I want to show that Bransen’s answer to the second question actually provides an answer to each of the other questions, and that instead of dissolving the problem of man’s uniqueness (posed by question #1), what he offers is (...)
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  7. Lynne Rudder Baker (2008). Big-Tent Metaphysics. Abstracta 2 (3):8-15.
    Eric Olson won the hearts of my graduate students by dedicating his book “to the unemployed philosophers.” (The students subsequently got fine jobs, but it’s the thought (or rather the sympathy) that counts.) As appreciated as the dedication was, however, I doubt that it was responsible for the wonderful reception that Olson’s book, The Human Animal, has had. Rather, the cleverness of his arguments, the vigor with which Olson writes, and the new interpretations of old thought experiments and arguments have (...)
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  8. Lynne Rudder Baker (2008). Review: Eric T. Olson: What Are We? A Study in Personal Ontology. [REVIEW] Mind 117 (468):1120-1122.
  9. Lynne Rudder Baker (2008). Response to Eric Olson. Abstracta 3 (3):43-45.
  10. Lynne Rudder Baker (2007). Persons and Other Things. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (5-6):5-6.
  11. Lynne Rudder Baker (2005). When Does a Person Begin? Social Philosophy and Policy 22 (2):25-48.
    According to the Constitution View of persons, a human person is wholly constituted by (but not identical to) a human organism. This view does justice both to our similarities to other animals and to our uniqueness. As a proponent of the Constitution View, I defend the thesis that the coming-into-existence of a human person is not simply a matter of the coming-into-existence of an organism, even if that organism ultimately comes to constitute a person. Marshalling some support from developmental psychology, (...)
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  12. Lynne Rudder Baker, Precis of Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View. A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind.
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  13. Lynne Rudder Baker (2000). Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View. Cambridge University Press.
    What is a human person, and what is the relation between a person and his or her body? In her third book on the philosophy of mind, Lynne Rudder Baker investigates what she terms the person/body problem and offers a detailed account of the relation between human persons and their bodies. Baker's argument is based on the 'Constitution View' of persons and bodies, which aims to show what distinguishes persons from all other beings and to show how we can be (...)
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  14. Lynne Rudder Baker (1999). What Am I? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (1):151 - 159.
  15. Lynne Rudder Baker (1999). What Am I? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (1):151-159.
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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. 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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  19. 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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  20. Simon Beck (2011). Causal Copersonality: In Defence of the Psychological Continuity Theory. South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (2):244-255.
    The view that an account of personal identity can be provided in terms of psychological continuity has come under fire from an interesting new angle in recent years. Critics from a variety of rival positions have argued that it cannot adequately explain what makes psychological states co-personal (i.e. the states of a single person). The suggestion is that there will inevitably be examples of states that it wrongly ascribes using only the causal connections available to it. In this paper, I (...)
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