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Summary One of the primary methods of argument with respect to the metaphysics of personal identity has been to pump intuitions on a wide variety of puzzle cases, many of which involve science fiction.  These include brain and body swaps, teletransportation, fission, fusion, and many more.  The basic idea is to test the limits of our conceptual commitments by prizing apart various features of our identity that are typically conjoined.  For example, what would happen if my body went in one direction and my psychological stream went in another?  Where would I go?  This method is highly controversial, however, with several theorists questioning both the possibility of such cases as well as their utility for determining the identity conditions for non-fictional creatures like us.
Key works John Locke offered the original body swap case between a Prince and a cobbler (see Perry 1975), and others who have appealed to many varieties of puzzle cases to argue for their conclusions about personal identity include Shoemaker 1963, Wiggins 1967, Nagel 1971, Lewis 1976, Parfit 1984, Noonan 1989, Martin 1998, and McMahan 2002.  Those wary or critical of this "method of puzzle cases" include Williams 1970, Wilkes 1988, Johnston 1989, Gendler 2002, and DeGrazia 2005.
Introductions Encyclopedia entry that includes discussion of identity and puzzle cases: Gallois 2008.  No introductory texts on puzzle cases alone, but an excellent (albeit challenging) deployment of the method is Part III of Parfit 1984, and an excellent (albeit challenging) discussion of its limits is Wilkes 1988.
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  1. Torin Alter, What Do Split-Brain Cases Show About the Unity of Consciousness?
    The startling empirical data that concern us here are well known. Severing the corpus callosum produces a kind of mental bifurcation (Sperry 1968). In one experiment, a garlic smell is presented to a patient.
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  2. Joseph E. Bogen (1977). Further Discussion of Split Brains and Hemispheric Capabilities. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 28 (September):281-6.
  3. Donald W. Bruckner (2012). Against the Tedium of Immortality. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (5):623-644.
    Abstract In a well-known paper, Bernard Williams argues that an immortal life would not be worth living, for it would necessarily become boring. I examine the implications for the boredom thesis of three human traits that have received insufficient attention in the literature on Williams? paper. First, human memory decays, so humans would be entertained and driven by things that they experienced long before but had forgotten. Second, even if memory does not decay to the extent necessary to ward off (...)
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  4. Mary K. Colvin & Michael S. Gazzaniga (2007). Split-Brain Cases. In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell
  5. K. A. Forrest (2001). Toward an Etiology of Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Neurodevelopmental Approach. Consciousness and Cognition 10 (3):259-293.
    This article elaborates on Putnam's ''discrete behavioral states'' model of dissociative identity disorder (Putnam, 1997) by proposing the involvement of the orbitalfrontal cortex in the development of DID and suggesting a potential neurodevelopmental mechanism responsible for the development of multiple representations of self. The proposed ''orbitalfrontal'' model integrates and elaborates on theory and research from four domains: the neurobiology of the orbitalfrontal cortex and its protective inhibitory role in the temporal organization of behavior, the development of emotion regulation, the development (...)
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  6. By Robert Francescotti (2008). Psychological Continuity, Fission, and the Non-Branching Constraint. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):21–31.
    Those who endorse the Psychological Continuity Approach (PCA) to analyzing personal identity need to impose a non-branching constraint to get the intuitively correct result that in the case of fission, one person becomes two. With the help of Brueckner's (2005) discussion, it is shown here that the sort of non-branching clause that allows proponents of PCA to provide sufficient conditions for being the same person actually runs contrary to the very spirit of their theory. The problem is first presented in (...)
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  7. Nlkolaj Frandsen (1996). Understanding Metaphors with the Two Hemispheres of the Brain. Danish Yearbook of Philosophy 31:49.
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  8. G. Glas, Person, Personality, Self, and Identity.
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  9. Kamuran Godelek (1994). Divided Consciousness, Divided Self. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
    This work addresses issues of self integrity and self identity arising from cases of split brain and multiple personality disorder. It takes on the task of accounting for a unified conscious experience of oneself and, more importantly, a unified and continuous self within a multiple systems, information processing approach to consciousness and the self. Cases of split-brain syndrome are examined in detail, and the view that commissurotomy produces dual selves in one body, advanced by leading researchers in neuropsychology and philosophy, (...)
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  10. Todd C. Handy & Michael S. Gazzaniga (2005). Attention in Split-Brain Patients. In Laurent Itti, Geraint Rees & John K. Tsotsos (eds.), Neurobiology of Attention. Academic Press
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  11. David Hershenov (2006). Personal Identity and Purgatory. Religious Studies 42 (4):439-451.
    If Purgatory involves just an immaterial soul undergoing a transformation between our death and resurrection, then, as Aquinas recognized, it won't be us in Purgatory. Drawing upon Parfit's ideas about identity not being what matters to us, we explore whether the soul's experience of Purgatory could still be beneficial to it as well as the deceased human who didn't experience the purging yet would possess the purged soul upon resurrection. We also investigate an alternative non-Thomistic hylomorphic account of Purgatory in (...)
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  12. Hud Hudson (2009). Fission, Freedom, and the Fall. In Jonathan L. Kvanvig (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion: Volume 2. OUP Oxford
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  13. Stephen M. Kosslyn, Jeffrey D. Holtzman, Martha J. Farah & Michael S. Gazzaniga (1985). A Computational Analysis of Mental Image Generation: Evidence From Functional Dissociations in Split-Brain Patients. Journal of Experimental Psychology 114 (3).
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  14. Maryse Lassonde (2002). Split‐Brain Research. In Lynn Nadel (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Macmillan
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  15. J. J. MacIntosh (1992). Adverbs, Identity, and Multiple Personalities. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (3):301 - 321.
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  16. Scott Mcclintock (2008). The Poetics of Fission in Robinson Jeffers. Clio 37 (2):171-193.
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  17. Paul K. Moser (1998). Epistemological Fission. The Monist 81 (3):353-370.
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  18. John Perry (1978). A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. Hackett.
    A DIALOGUE on PERSONAL IDENTITY and IMMORTALITY This is a record of conversations of Gretchen We/rob, a teacher of philosophy at a small mid- western ...
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  19. Fiona Probyn-Rapsey (2011). Furries and the Limits of Species Identity Disorder: A Response to Gerbasi Et Al. Society and Animals 19 (3):294-301.
    This is a response to an article published inSociety & Animals in 2008 that argued for the existence of a “species identity disorder” in some furries. Species identity disorder is modeled on gender identity disorder, itself a highly controversial diagnosis that has been criticized for pathologizing homosexuality and transgendered people. This response examines the claims of the article and suggests that the typology it constructs is based on unexamined assumptions about what constitutes “human” identity and regulatory fictions of gender identity.
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  20. J. M. Quen (ed.) (1986). Split Minds/Split Brains: Historical and Current Perspectives. New York University Press.
  21. J. Sergent (1987). A New Look at the Human Split Brain. Brain 110:1375-92.
  22. Geoffrey Yarlott (1986). Split-Brain Theory and Education. British Journal of Educational Studies 34 (3):235 - 248.
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Fission and Split Brains
  1. Raziel Abelson (1977). Persons: A Study In Philosophical Psychology. London: Macmillan.
  2. Torin Alter, Access Disunity Without Phenomenal Disunity: Tye on Split-Brain Cases.
    Consider the conscious states of a single subject at a time. Arguably, split-brain cases show that such states need not be jointly accessible. It is less clear that these cases also show that such states need not be jointly experienced. Michael Tye (2004) argues split-brain cases do have that implication, and Timothy Bayne and David Chalmers (2003) argue that they do not. I will develop two objections to Tye’s arguments. First, an analogy to blindsight on which he relies is questionable. (...)
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  3. Susan L. Anderson (1976). Coconsciousness and Numerical Identity of the Person. Philosophical Studies 30 (July):1-10.
    The phenomenon of multiple personality--Like the "split-Brain" phenomenon--Involves a disintegration of the normally unified self to the point where one must question whether there is one, Or more than one, Person associated with the body even at a single moment in time. Besides the traditional problem of determining identity over time, There is now a new problem of personal identity--Determining identity at a single moment in time. We need the conceptual apparatus to talk about this new problem and a test, (...)
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  4. H. E. Baber (1983). The Lifetime Language. Philosophical Studies 43 (1):139 - 146.
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  5. James Baillie (1991). Split Brains and Single Minds. Journal of Philosophical Research 16:11-18.
    This paper challenges the widely held theory that split-brain patients have ‘two-minds’ and can thus be described as being two distinct persons. A distinction is made between the singularity of mind and the coherence of mind. It is stressed that ‘a single mind’ is not something posited to explain coherence among mental contents, but is merely a mark that such coherence holds to a certain degree. However, there is no sharp dividing line regarding what counts as a single mind. It (...)
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  6. 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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  7. Y. Michael Barilan (2003). One or Two: An Examination of the Recent Case of the Conjoined Twins From Malta. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 28 (1):27 – 44.
    The article questions the assumption that conjoined twins are necessarily two people or persons by employing arguments based on different points of view: non-personal vitalism, the person as a sentient being, the person as an agent, the person as a locus of narrative and valuation, and the person as an embodied mind. Analogies employed from the cases of amputation, multiple personality disorder, abortion, split-brain patients and cloning. The article further questions the assumption that a conjoined twin's natural interest and wish (...)
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  8. Tim Bayne (2008). The Unity of Consciousness and the Split-Brain Syndrome. Journal of Philosophy 105 (6):277-300.
    According to conventional wisdom, the split-brain syndrome puts paid to the thesis that consciousness is necessarily unified. The aim of this paper is to challenge that view. I argue both that disunity models of the split-brain are highly problematic, and that there is much to recommend a model of the split-brain—the switch model—according to which split-brain patients retain a fully unified consciousness at all times. Although the task of examining the unity of consciousness through the lens of the split-brain syndrome (...)
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  9. Simon Beck (1992). Should We Tolerate People Who Split? Southern Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):1-17.
  10. Marvin Belzer (2005). Self-Conception and Personal Identity: Revisiting Parfit and Lewis with an Eye on the Grip of the Unity Reaction. Social Philosophy and Policy 22 (2):126-164.
    Derek Parfit's “reductionist” account of personal identity (including the rejection of anything like a soul) is coupled with the rejection of a commonsensical intuition of essential self-unity, as in his defense of the counter-intuitive claim that “identity does not matter.” His argument for this claim is based on reflection on the possibility of personal fission. To the contrary, Simon Blackburn claims that the “unity reaction” to fission has an absolute grip on practical reasoning. Now David Lewis denied Parfit's claim that (...)
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  11. Henk Bij de Weg, Can a Person Break a World Record?
    Most philosophers in the analytical philosophy answer the question what personal identity is in psychological terms. Arguments for substantiating this view are mainly based on thought experiments of brain transfer cases and the like in which persons change brains. However, in these thought experiments the remaining part of the body plays only a passive part. In this paper I argue that the psychological approach of personal identity cannot be maintained, if the whole body is actively involved in the analysis, and (...)
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  12. Colin Blakemore & Susan A. Greenfield (1987). Mindwaves: Thoughts on Intelligence, Identity, and Consciousness. Blackwell.
  13. Montserrat Bordes Solanas (1998). Filosofía en clave de ciencia ficción: las personas y sus condiciones de supervivencia en el tiempo. Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 17 (2):59-75.
    Disagreements about the criteria for personal identity are usually discussed by means of thought experiments, which describe counterfactual science fiction situations, in order to test the explanatory force of the different accounts. In this paper the basic analyzes of the survival of persons through time are presented and the higher plausibility of psychological criteria to solve the puzzle cases is stressed. I argue that because of their capability to account for fission and fusion cases psychological criteria rooted in a four-dimensionalist (...)
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  14. E. J. Borowski (1978). Puzzle Cases: The Wrong Approach to Personal Identity. Metaphilosophy 9 (3-4):252-258.
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  15. H. Skott Brill (2003). The Future-Like-Ours Argument, Personal Identity, and the Twinning Dilemma. Social Theory and Practice 29 (3):419-430.
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  16. Anthony L. Brueckner (2005). Branching in the Psychological Approach to Personal Identity. Analysis 65 (288):294-301.
    In this introduction to the special issue of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics on the topic of personal identity and bioethics, I provide a background for the topic and then discuss the contributions in the special issue by Eric Olson, Marya Schechtman, Tim Campbell and Jeff McMahan, James Delaney and David Hershenov, and David DeGrazia.
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  17. Anthony Brueckner & Christopher T. Buford (2008). The Psychological Approach to Personal Identity: Non-Branching and the Individuation of Person Stages. Dialogue 47 (02):377-.
    ABSTRACT: We begin by discussing some logical constraints on the psychological approach to personal identity. We consider a problem for the psychological approach that arises in fission cases. The problem engenders the need for a non-branching clause in a psychological account of the co-personality relation. We look at some difficulties in formulating such a clause. We end by rejecting a recently proposed formulation of non-branching. Our criticism of the formulation raises some interesting questions about the individuation of person stages.RÉSUMÉ: Ce (...)
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  18. Hugh S. Chandler, Parfit on Division.
    Parfit’s well known book, Reasons and Persons, argues, among other things, that ‘what matters’ in regard to ‘survival’ is not personal identity but something he calls ‘relation R.’ On this basis, plus other considerations, he rejects the ‘Self-interest’ theory as to what should be our aim in life. Here I show, or try to show, that his over-all argument is seriously defective. In particular, he fails to prove that personal identity is not what matters for survival.
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  19. Charles L. Y. Cheng (1978). On Puccetti's Two-Persons View of Man. Southern Journal of Philosophy 16 (1):605-616.
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  20. Lawrence H. Davis (1997). Cerebral Hemispheres. Philosophical Studies 87 (2):207-22.
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  21. L. Dewitt (1975). Consciousness, Mind, Self: The Implications of the Split-Brain Studies. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 27 (March):41-47.
  22. Frederick Doepke (1996). The Kinds of Things: A Theory of Personal Identity Based on Transcendental Argument. Open Court Publishing Company.
    The Kinds of Things strongly supports the commonsense belief that in normal human life even changes in our deeply-held affections and ideals do not erode the ...
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  23. Douglas Ehring (1987). Personal Identity and Time Travel. Philosophical Studies 52 (3):427 - 433.
    Memory theories of personal identity are subject to the difficulty that distinct simultaneous person stages may both stand in the memory relation to an earlier person stage. Apparently, Such theories entail that these two duplicate person stages are stages of the same person, A claim argued to be "obviously false". In this paper, I argue that the characteristics of these duplication cases usually cited to support this claim do not provide adequate evidence to make it cogent.
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  24. Douglas E. Ehring (1999). Fission, Fusion, and the Parfit Revolution. Philosophical Studies 94 (3):329-32.
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  25. Douglas E. Ehring (1995). Personal Identity and the R-Relation: Reconciliation Through Cohabitation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 73 (3):337-346.
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  26. Matti Eklund (2002). Personal Identity and Conceptual Incoherence. Noûs 36 (3):465-485.
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  27. Robert Elliot (1978). Personal Identity, Reduplication and Spatio-Temporal Continuity. Philosophical Papers 7 (2):73-75.
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  28. Robert Francescotti (2010). Psychological Continuity and the Necessity of Identity. American Philosophical Quarterly 47 (4):337-350.
    In attempting to understand personal identity, it is common practice to imagine a person existing at some time t and a person existing at a time t* , and then to ask, What does it take for person x at t to be the same person as person y at t*?The Psychological Continuity Approach answers: there is a relation, R, of psychological continuity such that person x at t is the same person as person y at t* if and only (...)
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