About this topic
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.
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  1. Ronald G. Alexander (1992). Personal Identity and Self-Constitution. The Personalist Forum 8 (Supplement):83-89.
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  2. Karl Ameriks (1977). Criteria of Personal Identity. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7 (1):47 - 69.
    I defend the claim that bodily continuity is the primary criterion of personal identity by arguing there is an important sense in which it (unlike rival criteria) is a necessary condition of such identity. This claim is shown to be misunderstood in recent discussions because of a confusion of it with the claim that bodily continuity is a sufficient condition of personal identity. In the course of my argument, I criticize williams, Shoemaker, Puccetti, Quinton, Miri, And others.
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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. S. T. Árnadóttir, Thinking Animals.
    Many personal identity theorists claim that persons are distinct from the animals that constitute them, but when combined with the plausible assumption that animals share the thoughts of the persons they constitute, this denial results in an excess of thinkers and a host of related problems. I consider a number of non-animalist solutions to these problems and argue that they fail. I argue further that satisfactory non-animalist solutions are not forthcoming and that in order to avoid these problems we ought (...)
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  5. Bruce Aune (1983). The Identity of the Self. Review of Metaphysics 36 (3):724-726.
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  6. Alan Baddeley (2008). Psychology in the 1950s: A Personal View. In Pat Rabbitt (ed.), Inside Psychology: A Science Over 50 Years. Oup Oxford.
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  7. Archie Bahm (1979). Personal Ethics. Southwest Philosophical Studies 4.
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  8. J. Baillie (1998). Olson, ET-The Human Animal. Philosophical Books 39:58-60.
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  9. James Baillie (1992). Identity, Consciousness and Value. Philosophical Books 33 (1):42-44.
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  10. Lynne Rudder Baker (2007). Persons and the Metaphysics of Resurrection. Religious Studies 43 (3):333-348.
    Theories of the human person differ greatly in their ability to underwrite a metaphysics of resurrection. This paper compares and contrasts a number of such views in light of the Christian doctrine of resurrection. In a Christian framework, resurrection requires that the same person who exists on earth also exists in an afterlife, that a postmortem person be embodied, and that the existence of a postmortem person is brought about by a miracle. According to my view of persons (the Constitution (...)
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  11. Joseph A. Baltimore (2006). Got to Have Soul. Religious Studies 42 (4):417-430.
    Kevin Corcoran offers an account of how one can be a physicalist about human persons, deny temporal gaps in the existence of persons, and hold that there is an afterlife. I argue that Corcoran's account both violates the necessity of metaphysical identity and implausibly makes an individual's existence dependent on factors wholly extrinsic to the individual. Corcoran's defence is considered, as well as Stephen Davis's suggestions on how an account like Corcoran's can defend itself against these concerns. It is shown, (...)
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  12. David Banach (1992). Who Do You Think You Are? Relations, Subjectivity, and the Identity of Persons. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 66:109-121.
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  13. G. Barazetti & M. Reichlin (2011). Life-Extension and Personal Identity. In Guy Kahane, Julian Savulescu & Ruud Ter Meulen (eds.), Enhancing Human Capacities.
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  14. Kenneth F. Barber, Jorge Je Gracia, York Press, Andrew Brennan, Caroline Walker Bynum, Michael Carrithers, Roderick M. Chisholm, I. L. La Salle & Frederick C. Doepke (2003). Books on Personal Identity Since 1970. In Raymond Martin & John Barresi (eds.), Personal Identity. Blackwell.
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  15. John Barresi (1999). On Becoming a Person. Philosophical Psychology 12 (1):79-98.
    How does an entity become a person? Forty years ago Carl Rogers answered this question by suggesting that human beings become persons through a process of personal growth and self-discovery. In the present paper I provide six different answers to this question, which form a hierarchy of empirical projects and associated criteria that can be used to understand human personhood. They are: (1) persons are constructed out of natural but organic materials; (2) persons emerge as a form of adaptation through (...)
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  16. Kenneth Baynes (2010). Self, Narrative and Self-Constitution: Revisiting Taylor's “Self-Interpreting Animals”. Philosophical Forum 41 (4):441-457.
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  17. Pierre Marie Beaude & Jacques Fantino (eds.) (2010). Identité Et Altérité: La Norme En Question?: Hommage à Pierre-Marie Beaude. Université Paul-Verlaine, Centre de Recherche Écritures.
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  18. Dene Bebbington (2011). Argument From Personal Incredulity. Think 10 (28):27-28.
    People prefer certainty. There's a psychological need to explain events or phenomena rather than accept one's ignorance, to say ???I don't know??? when faced with insufficient evidence.
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  19. David P. Behan (1985). Personal Identity. Philosophical Books 26 (2):112-113.
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  20. Milorad Belančić (1997). The Attribution of Identity. Theoria 40 (3):83-94.
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  21. Christopher Belshaw (2010). Animals, Identity and Persistence. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):401 - 419.
    A number of claims are closely connected with, though logically distinct from, animalism. One is that organisms cease to exist when they die. Two others concern the relation of the brain, or the brainstem, to animal life. One of these holds that the brainstem is necessary for life?more precisely, that (say) my cat's brainstem is necessary for my cat's life to continue. The other is that it is sufficient for life?more precisely, that so long as (say) my cat's brainstem continues (...)
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  22. Ermanno Bencivenga (1983). An Old Problem About Identity. Conceptus. Zeitschrift Fur Philosophie Salzburg 17 (40-41):91-100.
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  23. Christine Berberich, Neil Campbell & Robert Hudson (eds.) (2012). Land & Identity: Theory, Memory, and Practice. Editions Rodopi.
    This collection of essays aims to investigate the complex issues surrounding contemporary cultural discourses on land and identity – their production, construction, and reconstruction across a range of different texts and materials. The chapters offer disciplinary and trans-disciplinary approaches opening up discussion and new routes for research in a number of interrelated areas such as Countryside vs. City, Diaspora, Landscapes of Memory and Trauma, Migrational Spaces, and Ecology. They represent a number of innovative contemporary responses to how concepts of land (...)
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  24. Jacob Berger (2015). Naturalism and the First-Person Perspective, by Lynne Rudder Baker. Mind 124 (493):317-321.
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  25. Marta Cecilia Betancur (2005). False Assumptions of the Problem of Personal Identity. From Personal to Narrative Identity. Estudios de Filosofía 31:83-103.
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  26. Andrzej Bilat (2012). The Identity of Persons. Selected Positions and Arguments. Filozofia Nauki 20 (1).
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  27. Remo Bodei (1993). El largo adiós a la identidad personal. Revista Internacional de Filosofía Política 2:5-20.
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  28. Mašan Bogdanovski (1996). Communitarian Account of Personal Identity. Filozofija I Društvo 9:295-303.
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  29. Andrew Brennan (1989). I: The Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity. Philosophical Books 30 (2):106-107.
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  30. Andrew Brook (2014). Tracking a Person Over Time Is Tracking What? Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (4):585-598.
    Tracking persons, that is, determining that a person now is or is not a specific earlier person, is extremely common and widespread in our way of life and extremely important. If so, figuring out what we are tracking, what it is to persist as a person over a period of time, is also important. Trying to figure this out will be the main focus of this chapter.
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  31. J. A. Brook (1975). Imagination, Possibility, and Personal Identity. American Philosophical Quarterly 12 (3):185 - 198.
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  32. Mark Brown (1997). Humans, Persons and Selves. Southwest Philosophy Review 13 (1):187-195.
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  33. A. Brueckner & C. T. Buford (2013). Against Psychological Sequentialism. Analysis 73 (1):96-101.
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  34. Vincent Brümmer (1996). Religious Belief and Personal Identity. Neue Zeitschrift Für Systematische Theologie Und Religionsphilosophie 38 (2):155-165.
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  35. Filip Buekens (1997). Lynne Rudder Bakers Opraktisch Realisme. Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 89 (3):240-243.
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  36. Tyler Burge (2004). Memory and Persons. Philosophical Review 112 (3):289-337.
  37. Carole Cain (1991). Personal Stories: Identity Acquisition and Self‐Understanding in Alcoholics Anonymous. Ethos 19 (2):210-253.
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  38. John Campbell (2011). Personal Identity. In Shaun Gallagher (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Self. Oup Oxford.
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  39. Scott Campbell (2004). Can You Survive a Brain-Zap? Theoria 70 (1):22-27.
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  40. William R. Carter (1990). Why Personal Identity is Animal Identity. Logos 11:71-81.
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  41. Quassim Cassam (1989). Kant and Reductionism. Review of Metaphysics 43 (September):72-106.
  42. Troy Catterson (2004). Hintikka on the Problem with the Problem of Transworld Identity. In D. Kolak & J. Symons (eds.), Quantifiers, Questions and Quantum Physics. Springer. 33--47.
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  43. John L. Caughey (1980). Personal Identity and Social Organization. Ethos 8 (3):173-203.
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  44. Kosta S. Čavoški (1996). The Party and Parliamentary System and the Problem of Personal and Collective Identity. Filozofija I Društvo 9:215-222.
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  45. Hasok Chang (2012). Acidity: The Persistence of the Everyday in the Scientific. Philosophy of Science 79 (5):690-700.
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  46. Timothy Chappell (1998). Reductionism About Persons; and What Matters. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 98 (1):41-58.
    This paper's ?I examines Derek Parfit's main, metaphysical, argument for reductionism about personal identity. ?II considers three possible ethical arguments for reductionism, and suggests a new approach to the question of what matters about personal identity which has to do with the notion of an ethical narrative.
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  47. Roderick M. Chisholm (1976). Person and Object: A Metaphysical Study. Open Court.
    First published in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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  48. Robert C. Coburn (1960). Bodily Continuity and Personal Identity. Analysis 20 (5):117 - 120.
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  49. David Cockburn (ed.) (1991). Human Beings. Cambridge University Press.
    The contributors to this collection have radically different approaches, some accepting and others denying its validity for a proper understanding of what a...
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  50. Stephen R. Coleman (2000). Thought Experiments and Personal Identity. Philosophical Studies 98 (1):51-66.
    Thought experiments are profitably compared to compasses. A compass is a simple but useful device for determining direction. Nevertheless, it systematically errs in the presence of magnets ...it becomes unreliable near the North Pole, in mine shafts, when vibrated, in the presence of metal ...experts will wish to use the compass as one element in a wider portfolio of navigational techniques. Analogously, thought experiments are simple but useful devices for determining the status of propositions. Sadly, they systematically err under certain (...)
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