In this article, I argue that lawmakers must abandon their previous reluctance to engage with questions of personalidentity (PI). While frequently seen as an esoteric subject, of limited interest outside of academic philosophy departments, I attempt to show that, in fact, assumptions about PI—and its durability in the face of certain psychological or genetic changes—underpin many current legal rules. This is most perhaps obviously exemplified with regard to reproductive technologies. Yet the Parfitian challenge to identify a victim (...) of ‘bad’ reproductive choices has been largely overlooked in framing legislative responses to such technologies. Furthermore, I argue, it is not only with regard to emerging technologies that questionable assumptions about PI play a role; legal responses to questions about the attribution of criminal responsibility, and about the treatment of demented or brain-injured people, necessitate a frank engagement with such questions. It may be, however, that a multi-faceted approach to PI, which takes account of genetic, psychological and social factors—will prove a better fit for the myriad needs of the legal system than any sort of ‘unified theory of identity’. (shrink)
The problem of personalidentity is often said to be one of accounting for what it is that gives persons their identity over time. However, once the problem has been construed in these terms, it is plain that too much has already been assumed. For what has been assumed is just that persons do have an identity. A new interpretation of Hume's no-self theory is put forward by arguing for an eliminative rather than a reductive view (...) of personalidentity, and by approaching the problem in terms of phenomenology, Buddhist psychology, and the idea of a constructed self-image. (shrink)
There are two main views about the nature of personalidentity. I shall briehy describe these views, say without argument which I believe to be true, and then discuss the implications of this view for one of the main conceptions of rationality. This conception I shall call "C1assical Prudence." I shall argue that, on what I believe to be the true view about personalidentity, Classical Prudence is indefensible.
What is the self? And how does it relate to the body? In the second edition of PersonalIdentity, Harold Noonan presents the major historical theories of personalidentity, particularly those of Locke, Leibniz, Butler, Reid and Hume. Noonan goes on to give a careful analysis of what the problem of personalidentity is, and its place in the context of more general puzzles about identity. He then moves on to consider the main (...) issues and arguments which are the subject of current debate, including the work of Bernard Williams and Derek Parfit, and makes new and challenging interpretations of them. This new edition contains additional material assessing the biological approach which has become increasingly popular in recent years, and extends the treatment of indeterminate identity to take account of the epistemic view of vagueness. This book covers the problem of personalidentity from its origin in Locke's work to the most recent debates in the philosophical literature, and will be invaluablereading for any student of the topic. (shrink)
Locke’s account of personalidentity has been highly influential because of its emphasis on a psychological criterion. The same consciousness is required for being the same person. It is not so clear, however, exactly what Locke meant by ‘consciousness’ or by ‘having the same consciousness’. Interpretations vary: consciousness is seen as identical to memory, as identical to a first personal appropriation of mental states, and as identical to a first personal distinctive experience of the qualitative features (...) of one’s own thinking. There is wide agreement, however, that Locke’s theory of personalidentity is meant to complement his moral and theological commitments to a system of divine punishment and reward in an afterlife. But these commitments seem to require also a metaphysical criterion, and Locke is insistent that it cannot be substance. The difficulty reconciling the psychological and metaphysical requirements of the theory has led, at worst, to charges of incoherence and, at best, to a slew of interpretations, none of which is widely accepted. (shrink)
Psychologically based accounts of personalidentity over time start from a view of persons as experiencing subjects. Derek Parfit argues that if such an account is to justify the importance we attach to identity it will need to provide a deep unity of consciousness throughout the life of a person, and no such unity is possible. In response, many philosophers have switched to a view of persons as essentially agents, arguing that the importance of identity depends (...) upon agential unity rather than unity of consciousness. While this shift contributes significantly to the discussion, it does not offer a fully satisfying alternative. Unity of consciousness still seems required if identity is to be as important as we think it is. Views of identity based on agential unity do, however, point to a new understanding of unity of consciousness which meets Parfit's challenge, yielding an integrated view of identity which sees persons as both subjects and agents. Footnotesa I am indebted to many friends and colleagues for their input in the course of writing this essay. I would like especially to thank David DeGrazia, Anthony Laden, Ray Martin, Marc Slors, and the editors of Social Philosophy and Policy. (shrink)
Most philosophers writing about personalidentity in recent years claim that what it takes for us to persist through time is a matter of psychology. In this groundbreaking new book, Eric Olson argues that such approaches face daunting problems, and he defends in their place a radically non-psychological account of personalidentity. He defines human beings as biological organisms, and claims that no psychological relation is either sufficient or necessary for an organism to persist. Olson rejects (...) several famous thought-experiments dealing with personalidentity. He argues, instead, that one could survive the destruction of all of one's psychological contents and capabilities as long as the human organism remains alive--as long as its vital functions, such as breathing, circulation, and metabolism, continue. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker argues that the functionalist theory of mind entails a psychological-continuity view of personalidentity, as well as providing a defense of that view against a crucial objection. I show that his view has surprising consequences, e.g. that no organism could have mental properties and that a thing's mental properties fail to supervene even weakly on its microstructure and surroundings. I then argue that the view founders on "fission" cases and rules out our being material things. Functionalism (...) tells us little if anything about personalidentity. (shrink)
Locke’s theory of personalidentity was philosophically groundbreaking for its attempt to establish a non-substantial identity condition. Locke states, “For the same consciousness being preserv’d, whether in the same or different Substances, the personalIdentity is preserv’d” (II.xxvii.13). Many have interpreted Locke to think that consciousness identifies a self both synchronically and diachronically by attributing thoughts and actions to a self. Thus, many have attributed to Locke either a memory theory or an appropriation theory of (...)personalidentity. But the former stumble on circularity and the latter is insufficient for Locke’s moral theory insofar as he is committed to a theory of divine rectification. The common problem is that Locke’s theory seems to demand an objective, or metaphysical, fact of a continuing consciousness that does not appeal to a traditional notion of substance for the continuity. I’m suggesting something new. In II.xxvii of the Essay, we see an ambiguity in Locke’s use of the term ‘consciousness’. Locke seems to see consciousness as both a mental state by means of which we are aware of ourselves as perceiving and as the ongoing self we are aware of in these conscious states. First, I make the textual argument why we should read Locke as having a conception of a metaphysical fact of a continuing consciousness that does not appeal to thinking or bodily substance to establish its continuity. I then argue that the metaphysical fact of an enduring consciousness is revealed to us as a phenomenological fact of experience. Due to the nature of certain kinds of perceptual situations we have an experience of ourselves as temporally extended. Although the text bears out that Locke seemed to think there is a fact of an ongoing consciousness, I argue that it is consistent with his reluctance elsewhere that he makes no further epistemological or ontological claims about it. Finally, I provide an account of Locke’s understanding of memory and its relation to consciousness that supports the claim that consciousness is something ontologically distinct from either thinking or bodily substance. (shrink)
In this paper, I attempt to map out the 'logical geography' of the territory in which issues of mental content and of personalidentity meet. In particular, I investigate the possibility of combining a psychological criterion of personalidentity 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 change immediately, but only after the person becomes integrated within the new linguistic community. I also suggest that recent work on personalidentity, notably by Derek Parfit, has tacitly assumed internalism regarding mental content. I do not intend to argue for either externalism or a psychological criterion. My aim is merely to explicate the issues involved in making them compatible. (shrink)
Philosophers have long suggested that our attitude of special concern for the future is problematic for a reductionist view of personalidentity, such as the one developed by Derek Parfit in Reasons and Persons. Specifically, it is often claimed that reductionism cannot provide justification for this attitude. In this paper, I argue that much of the debate in this arena involves a misconception of the connection between metaphysical theories of personalidentity and our special concern. A (...) proper understanding of this connection reveals that the above-mentioned objection to reductionism cannot get off the ground. Though the connection I propose is weaker than the connection typically presupposed, I nonetheless run up against a conclusion reached by Susan Wolf in “Self-Interest and Interest in Selves.” According to Wolf, metaphysical theses about the nature of personalidentity have no significance for our attitude of special concern. By arguing against Wolf’s treatment of self-interest, I suggest that her arguments for this conclusion are misguided. This discussion leads to further clarification of the nature of the link between theories of personalidentity and our special concern and, ultimately, to a better understanding of the rationality of this attitude. (shrink)
Considerations of personalidentity bear on John Searle's Chinese Room argument, and on the opposed position that a computer itself could really understand a natural language. In this paper I develop the notion of a virtual person, modelled on the concept of virtual machines familiar in computer science. I show how Searle's argument, and J. Maloney's attempt to defend it, fail. I conclude that Searle is correct in holding that no digital machine could understand language, but wrong in (...) holding that artificial minds are impossible: minds and persons are not the same as the machines, biological or electronic, that realize them. (shrink)
Olson (1997a) tries to refute the Psychological Approach to personalidentity with his Fetus Argument, and Mackie (1999) aims to do the same with the Death Argument. With the help of a suggestion made by Baker (1999), the following discussion shows that these arguments fail. In the process of defending the Psychological Approach, it is made clear exactly what one is and is not committed to as a proponent of the theory.
Part of the appeal of the biological approach to personalidentity is that it does not have to countenance spatially coincident entities. But if the termination thesis is correct and the organism ceases to exist at death, then it appears that the corpse is a dead body that earlier was a living body and distinct from but spatially coincident with the organism. If the organism is identified with the body, then the unwelcome spatial coincidence could perhaps be avoided. (...) It is argued that such an identification would be a mistake. A living organism has a different part/whole relationship and persistence conditions than the alleged body. A case will be made that the concept ‘human body’ is a conceptual mess, vague in an unprincipled manner, and that an eliminativist stance towards dead bodies is the appropriate response. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In a recent article, Trenton Mericks argues that psychological continuity analyses (PC-analyses) of personalidentity over time are incompatible with endurantism. We contend that if Merricks's argument is valid, a parallel argument establishes that PC-analyses of personalidentity are incompatible with perdurantism; hence, the correct conclusion to draw is simply that such analyses are all necessarily false. However, we also show that there is good reason to doubt that Merricks's argument is valid.
It is easy to become battle-weary in metaphysics. In the face of seemingly unresolvable disputes and unanswerable questions, it is tempting to cast aside one’s sword, proclaiming: “there is no fact of the matter who is right!” Sometimes that is the right thing to do. As a case study, consider the search for the criterion of personalidentity over time. I say there is no fact of the matter whether the correct criterion is bodily or psychological continuity.1 There (...) exist two candidate meanings for talk of persisting persons, one corresponding to each criterion, and there is simply no fact of the matter which candidate we mean. An argument schema for this sort of “no fact of the matter” thesis will be constructed. An instance of the schema will be defended in the case of personalidentity. But scrutiny of this instance will reveal limits of the schema. Questions not settled by conceptual analysis—in particular, some very difficult questions of fundamental ontology—have answers. So do certain questions that can be settled by conceptual analysis, namely those that would be answered definitively by ideal philosophical inquiry. Whether there is a fact of the matter is not easily ascertained merely by looking to see whether disputes seem unresolvable or questions unanswerable: sometimes the truth is out there, however hard (or even impossible) it may be to discover. (shrink)
The received view of multiple personality disorder (MPD) presupposes a form of realism, according to which the 'secondary personality' is an independent conscious entity joined to the psyche of the host. The received view of MPD is endorsed by the majority of psychologists, as are the major diagnostic criteria for MPD. Realism of this type, gives rise to a certain problem concerning the personalidentity of the secondary personality, namely, who this individual is. It is argued that three (...) broad answers to the Question of Who in the context of MPD have been proposed in the history of psychology and psychiatry: psychological realism (Janet and the Dissociationist School); psychological anti-realism (Freud and the Psychoanalytic School), and neural realism (Wigan, Sperry and Gazzaniga). These views are examined. In addition, the relationship of the Question of Who to the traditional problem of personalidentity is examined. It is argued that philosophers such as Locke, Reid and Parfit have either overlooked or presupposed the Question of Who. (shrink)
If personalidentity consists in non-branching psychological continuity, then the sharp breaks in psychological connectedness characteristic of Multiple Personality Disorder implicitly commit psychological continuity theories to a metaphysically extravagant reification of alters. Animalist theories of personalidentity avoid the reification of alternate personalities by interpreting multiple personality as a failure to integrate alternative autobiographical memory schemata. In the normal case, autobiographical memory cross-classifies a human life, and in so doing provides access to a variety of interpretative (...) frameworks with their associated clusters of general event memory and episodic memory. Multiples exhibit erratic behavior because they cannot access reliably the intersecting autobiographical memory schemata that permit graceful transitions between social roles, behavioral repertoire and emotional dispositions. Selves, in both normal and certain pathological cases, are best understood as semi-fictional narratives created by human animals to serve their social, emotional and physical needs. (shrink)
In this paper, I compare John Locke’s “memory theory” of personalidentity and Memento (directed by Christopher Nolan). I argue that the plot of Memento is ambiguous, in that the main character (Leonard Shelby, played by Guy Pearce) seems to have two histories. As such, Memento is but a series of puzzle cases that intend to illustrate that, although our memories may not be chronologically related to one another, and may even be fused with the memories of other (...) persons, those memories still constitute personalidentity. Just as Derek Parfit argues, perhaps there is no personalidentity as such, since only survival (in some degree) matters to us. In Memento, Leonard Shelby is not identity to his former self, but survives to some extent. (shrink)
Let the moral question of personalidentity be the following: what is the nature of the entities we should focus our prudential concerns and ascriptions of responsibility around? (If indeed we should structure these things around any entities at all.) Let the semantic question of personalidentity be the question of what is the nature of the entities that ‘person’ is true of. A naive (in the sense of simple and intuitive) view would have it that (...) the two questions are so intimately connected that the entities we should focus our concerns and ascriptions around are, pretty trivially, the persons. In part, my aim here is to evaluate this naive view. However, I will not actually attempt to give a definite verdict on it. Rather, I will identify the assumptions under which the naive view is true, and discuss how to go about evaluating those assumptions. (shrink)
Marya Schechtman argues that psychological continuity accounts of personalidentity, as represented by Derek Parfit's account, fail to escape the circularity objection. She claims that Parfit's deployment of quasi-memory (and other quasi-psychological) states to escape circularity implicitly commit us to an implausible view of human psychology. Schechtman suggests that what is lacking here is a coherence condition, and that this is something essential in any account of personalidentity. In response to this I argue first that (...) circularity may be escaped using quasi-psychological states even with the addition of the coherence condition. Second, I argue that there is something right about the coherence condition, and a major task of this paper is to identify its proper theoretical role. I do so by reflection on integration therapies for people with multiple personality disorder (MPD). The familiar distinction between the moral and the metaphysical concept of the person is developed alongside such reflection. Connecting these two issues I argue that coherence acts as a normative constraint on accounts of personalidentity, but that the normative dimension of personhood is not essential to our notion of a person tout court. (shrink)
The special and unique attitudes that we take towards events in our futures/pasts—e.g., attitudes like the dread of an impeding pain—create a challenge for “Reductionist” accounts that reduce persons to aggregates of interconnected person stages: if the person stage currently dreading tomorrow’s pain is numerically distinct from the person stage that will actually suffer the pain, what reason could the current person stage have for thinking of that future pain as being his? One reason everyday subjects believe they have a (...) substantially extended temporal existence stems from introspection—they introspectively experience their selves as being temporally extended. In this paper, I examine whether a Reductionist about personalidentity can co-opt this explanation. Using Galen Strawson’s recent work on self-experience as a resource, I reach both a negative and a positive conclusion about the prospects of such a position. First, the relevant kind of self-experience—i.e., the introspective experience of one’s self as being a substantially temporally extended entity—will not automatically arise within a person stage simply in virtue of that stage being psychologically connected to/continuous with other person stages. Second, the relevant kind of self-experience will arise, however, in virtue of person stages weaving together their respective experiences, actions, etc. via a narrative. This positive conclusion points towards a new Reductionist position that focuses upon a narrative, and not mere psychological continuity, in attempting to justify the special attitudes we take towards events in our futures/pasts. (shrink)
Among theories of personalidentity over time the simple view has not been popular among philosophers, but it nevertheless remains the default view among non philosophers. It may be construed either as the view that nothing grounds a claim of personalidentity over time, or that something quite simple (a soul perhaps) is the ground. If the former construal is accepted, a conspicuous difficulty is that the condition of causal dependence between person-stages is absent. But this (...) leaves such a view open to an objection from the failure to provide a condition of individuation. If, on the other hand something like a soul is said to ground personalidentity over time, such an account turns out to be more suited to a kind of continuity view. (shrink)
Memory of past episodes provides a sense of personalidentity — the sense that I am the same person as someone in the past. We present a neurological case study of a patient who has accurate memories of scenes from his past, but for whom the memories lack the sense of mineness. On the basis of this case study, we propose that the sense of identity derives from two components, one delivering the content of the memory and (...) the other generating the sense of mineness. We argue that this new model of the sense of identity has implications for debates about quasi-memory. In addition, articulating the components of the sense of identity promises to bear on the extent to which this sense of identity provides evidence of personalidentity. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker has claimed that functionalism, a theory about mental states, implies a certain theory about the identity over time of persons, the entities that have mental states. He also claims that persons can survive a "Brain-State-Transfer" procedure. My examination of these claims includes description and analysis of imaginary cases, but-notably-not appeals to our "intuitions" concerning them. It turns out that Shoemaker's basic insight is correct: there is a connection between the two theories. Specifically, functionalism implies that "non-branching functional (...) continuity" is sufficient for personalidentity. But there is no implication that it is necessary. And the "BST" procedure may not preserve functional continuity. I consider several possibilities. On what may be the most attractive, the survivor of this-or any similar-procedure is not identical with the original person, but related to him or her as are the survivors in a case of fission. (shrink)
Theories of personalidentity try to explain what the identity of a person necessarily consists in, but frequently leave open what kind of necessity is at issue. This paper is concerned with conceptual necessity. It proposes an analysis of the concept of personalidentity in terms of a definite description. The analysis coheres with out judgments about clear cases and explains why cases of division seem indeterminate. The apparent indeterminacy results from attempting to apply a (...) definite description to a situation in which more than one object would satisfy the description. The definite description analysis also explains the strengths of the influential no-branching theory, while avoiding the problems with that view. The no-branching theory is in effect a second-order analysis, i.e., a combination of the definite description analysis of personalidentity plus a Russellian analysis of the definite description. (shrink)
One reason why the Biological Approach to personalidentity is attractive is that it doesn’t make its advocates deny that they were each once a mindless fetus.[i] According to the Biological Approach, we are essentially organisms and exist as long as certain life processes continue. Since the Psychological Account of personalidentity posits some mental traits as essential to our persistence, not only does it follow that we could not survive in a permanently vegetative state or (...) irreversible coma, but it would appear that none of us was ever a mindless fetus. But what happens to the organism that was a mindless fetus when the _person_ arrives on the scene?[ii] Can the acquisition of thought destroy an organism? That would certainly be news to biologists. Does one organism cease to exist with the emergence of thought and another organism, one identical to the person, take its place? (Burke,1994) That doesn’t seem much more plausible than the previous move. Should identity and Leibniz. (shrink)
An analysis of the identity issues involved in facial allograft transplantation is provided in this paper. The identity issues involved in organ transplantation in general, under both theoretical accounts of personalidentity and subjective accounts provided by organ recipients, are examined. It is argued that the identity issues involved in facial allograft transplantation are similar to those involved in organ transplantation in general, but much stronger because the face is so closely linked with personal (...)identity. Recipients of facial allograft transplantation have the potential to feel that their identity is a mix between their own and the donor’s, and the donor’s family is potentially likely to feel that their loved one ‘‘lives on’’. It is also argued that facial allograft transplantation allows the recipients to regain an identity, because they can now be seen in the social world. Moreover, they may regain expressivity, allowing for them to be seen even more by others, and to regain an identity to an even greater extent. Informing both recipients and donors about the role that identity plays in facial allograft transplantation could enhance the consent process for facial allograft transplantation and donation. (shrink)
A thought that we all entertain at some time or other is that the course of our lives might have been very different from the way they in fact have been, with the consequence that we might have been rather different sorts of persons than we actually are. A less common, but prima facie intelligible thought is that we might never have existed at all, though someone rather like us did. Arguably, any plausible theory of personalidentity should (...) be able to accommodate both possibilities. Certain currently popular Reductionist theories of personalidentity, however, seem to be deficient in precisely this respect. This paper explores some Reductionist responses to that challenge. (shrink)
Humeans hold that the nomological features of our world, including causal facts, are determined by the global distribution of fundamental properties. Since persistence presupposes causation, it follows that facts about personalidentity are also globally determined. I argue that this is unacceptable for a number of reasons, and that the doctrine of Humean supervenience should therefore be rejected.
This paper explores a variety of kinds of apparent disagreement of which it may be held that they involve failure to disagree in that, at least in some broad sense, the disputants use the same words to express different meanings or concepts. It is argued that it is hard to rebut the claim that some apparent disagreements about personalidentity fall into a particular sub-category of this broad type. I conclude both that a "constrained" relativism which I call (...) "quasi-relativism" is appropriate in regard to some central personal-identity debates, and also that, in order to avoid the lamentable conclusion that there is no real disagreement at all in these debates, we should embrace the idea that there is a non-cognitive element in personalidentity claims, in virtue of the tight conceptual relations between personalidentity claims and value claims of various kinds. (shrink)
Philosophy sometimes has the reputation of dealing with matters outside the realm of ‘everyday life’, and trading in ideas that float free from anything beyond the armchair in which we sit contemplating them. In this paper, I discuss a standard armchair-branch of philosophy – personalidentity theory – and the real-life effects it either has had or has apparently failed to have upon two philosophers: David Hume and Derek Parfit. Both arrive at similar and quite radical beliefs about (...)personalidentity. And both have documented the difficulty of sustaining these beliefs in their day-to-day lives. For those considering embarking upon philosophical study – whether formally or not – this last point may seem discouraging, reinforcing a picture of a discipline that even on the admission of its own practitioners has little impact on everyday life or concerns. I will explore these two philosophers’ views on personalidentity in some detail, and outline the conflicts which they claim to exist between their philosophical and non-philosophical thinking. I will go on to propose that these conflicts do not in fact reinforce an opposition between everyday life and philosophy. (shrink)
The psychological continuity theory of personalidentity 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. I aim some questions at the challengers’ reading of Locke, leading to an argument that the psychological continuity theory can say all that it needs to say about responsibility, and so is not in any grave predicament, at least not with regard to this particular charge. (shrink)
Awareness of, and respect for differences of gender, race, religion, language, and culture have liberated many oppressed groups from the hegemony of white, Western males. However, respect for previously denigrated collective identities should not be allowed to confine individuals to identities constructed around one main component used for political mobilisation, or to identities that depend on a priority of properties that are not optional, like race, gender, and language. In this article I want to sketch an approach for accommodating different (...) kinds of identity within a multicultural constitutional democracy. From a vantage point provided by a definition and explanation of personalidentity, I want to show how people define, construct and change their personal identities to make themselves into unique individuals. Next I show how democratic political institutions and the personal identities of individuals reciprocally influence one another. In the final section I sketch ways in which diverse personal identities ought to be accommodated in multicultural constitutional democracies. The conclusion is that a society which gives its members the liberty, space, and opportunity to freely construct their own identities might avoid the formation of closed groups committed exclusively to their own sectional interests. (shrink)
The paper presents considerations that weigh against one or another version of the psychological continuity theory of personalidentity over time. Such Locke-like theories frequently go wrong, it is argued, in not formulating precisely how the psychological states of an individual person are related diachronically, in failing to capture a truly appropriate causal connection between later and earlier psychological states, and in claiming support from particular cases. In addition, the paper offers examples and other considerations that support an (...) alternative, biological continuity theory according to which you and I are each identical with a human organism. (shrink)
This paper offers an overview of consciousness and personalidentity in eighteenth-century philosophy. Locke introduces the concept of persons as subjects of consciousness who also simultaneously recognize themselves as such subjects. Hume, however, argues that minds are nothing but bundles of perceptions, lacking intrinsic unity at a time or across time. Yet Hume thinks our emotional responses to one another mean that persons in everyday life are defined by their virtues, vices, bodily qualities, property, riches, and the like. (...) Rousseau also takes persons to be fundamentally determined by our socially-mediated emotional responses to one another, though unlike Hume or Locke, he has little interest in placing this account of persons alongside a larger discussion of the human mind and its operations. Developing this idea further, Kant argues that our moral commitments require that we must take ourselves to be free. The fundamental equality that Rousseau sought in the political order is, for Kant, a requirement that reason puts on all of us. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker has argued that, because we can imagine a people who take themselves to survive a 'brain-state-transfer' procedure, cerebrum transplant, or the like, we ought to conclude that we could survive such a thing. I claim that the argument faces two objections, and can be defended only by depriving it any real interest.