Edited by David Shoemaker (Tulane University)
|Summary||Theories of personal identity are, most often, theories of what makes X, a person, at one time numerically identical to Y at another time. Such theories fall into two very general categories. On reductionist views, the facts about identity across time simply consist in facts about brains, bodies, or interrelated physical or mental events. On nonreductionist views, the facts about identity do not consist simply in such facts, but also consist in facts about, e.g., souls or Cartesian egos. Among reductionist theories, there are two general approaches: psychological and biological. On psychological approaches, what makes X and Y identical is typically continuity of some subset of psychological features. On biological approaches, what makes X and Y identical is typically continuity of the person's biological (animal) organism.|
|Key works||Derek Parfit offers and explains the distinction between nonreductionist and reductionist views of personal identity in Parfit 1984 (a distinction he originally labeled as between "simple" and "complex" views in Parfit 1973). For the original statement of a psychological criterion of identity, see John Locke's "persistence of consciousness" view in Locke 1979. For nonreductionist rejoinders, see Thomas Reid's Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man and Butler 1736. For contemporary advocacy of a psychological criterion, see, in addition to Parfit, Harold Noonan's Personal Identity and Sydney Shoemaker's contribution in Shoemaker & Swinburne 1984 (and for contemporary nonreductionism about identity, see Swinburne's contribution). For contemporary advocacy of a biological criterion, see Olson 1997.|
|Introductions||Good introductions include Perry 1978, Perry 1975, and Olson 2002.|
Personal Identity, Misc (452)
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
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