The Irrelevance/Incoherence of Non-Reductionism About Personal Identity

Philo 5 (2):143-160 (2002)
Abstract
Before being able to answer key practical questions dependent on a criterion of personal identity (e.g., am I justified in anticipating surviving the death of my body?), we must first determine which general approach to the issue of personal identity is more plausible, reductionism or non-reductionism. While reductionism has become the more dominant approach amongst philosophical theorists over the past thirty years, non-reductionism remains an approach that, for all these theorists have shown, could very well still be true. My aim in this paper is to show that non-reductionism is actually either irrelevant – with respect to the practical questions we want answered – or logically impossible. In arguing for this conclusion, I draw from a case Derek Parfit has employed – the Combined Spectrum – and I provide a number of variations to it which ultimately reveal that we have no possible rational recourse other than to become reductionists.
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