Edited by Chad Carmichael (Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis)
About this topic

Identity is sameness: the relation that holds between each thing and itself, and never holds between two things. Most philosophical issues about identity concern the relationship between identity and other important concepts: time, necessity, personhood, composition (parthood), indiscernibility, and vagueness. In addition to these issues, some have suggested that identity is not absolute, but relative, so that we may say two things are the same person or statue, but not the same simpliciter. Finally, there are questions about whether there must always be informative criteria of identity that settle questions about when identity holds or fails to hold.

Key works

Quine 1950 is a classic piece that treats several of the issues mentioned above. For the relationship between identity and modality, see Kripke 19711980, and Gibbard 1975. On the identity of indiscernibles, see Black 1952 and Adams 1979. Baxter 1988 and Lewis 1991 defend versions of the thesis of composition as identity. See van Inwagen 1994 for a critique. Evans 1978 argues against vague identity. See Stalnaker 1988 and Parsons & Woodruff 1994 for replies. On relative identity, see Geach 1967, Geach 1962, and Perry 1970.

Introductions See the Stanford Encyclopedia piece on Identity Noonan & Curtis 2014 for a nice overview of nearly all of these topics. Hawthorne 2003 has an excellent discussion of several of these issues as well. Many of the papers listed above are collected in Korman & Sosa 1991.

Related categories

1014 found
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Material to categorize
  1. Identity Statements and Conversationally Salient Content.Peter Alward - 2015 - Dialogue 54 (1):121-138.
  2. Practical Identity and Narrative Agency.Kim Atkins & Catriona Mackenzie (eds.) - 2010 - Routledge.
    The essays collected in this volume address a range of issues that arise when the focus of philosophical reflection on identity is shifted from metaphysical to practical and evaluative concerns. They also explore the usefulness of the notion of narrative for articulating and responding to these issues. The chapters, written by an outstanding roster of international scholars, address a range of complex philosophical issues concerning the relationship between practical and metaphysical identity, the embodied dimensions of the first-personal perspective, the kind (...)
  3. The Identity of Indiscernibles.A. J. Ayer - 1953 - Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of Philosophy 3:124-129.
  4. Ordinary Objects, Ordinary Language, and Identity.Michael Ayers - 2005 - The Monist 88 (4):534-570.
  5. Occasional Identity or Occasional Reference?H. E. Baber - unknown
    André Gallois argues that individuals that undergo fission are on some occasions identical, but on others distinct. Occasional identity however, is metaphysically costly. I argue that we can get all the benefits of occasional identity without the metaphysical costs. On the proposed account, the names of ordinary material objects refer indeterminately to stages that belong to reference classes determined by the context of utterance or temporal adverbs. In addition, temporal markers indicating the perspective from which we count objects and assign (...)
  6. Inflectional Identity.Asaf Bachrach & Andrew Nevins (eds.) - 2008 - Oxford University Press UK.
    A recurrent issue in linguistic theory and psychology concerns the cognitive status of memorized lists and their internal structure. In morphological theory, the collections of inflected forms of a given noun, verb, or adjective into inflectional paradigms are thought to constitute one such type of list. This book focuses on the question of which elements in a paradigm can stand in a relation of partial or total phonological identity. Leading scholars consider inflectional identity from a variety of theoretical perspectives, with (...)
  7. Complicated Presence: Heidegger and the Postmetaphysical Unity of Being.Jussi Backman - 2015 - State University of New York Press.
    From its Presocratic beginnings, Western philosophy concerned itself with a quest for unity both in terms of the systematization of knowledge and as a metaphysical search for a unity of being—two trends that can be regarded as converging and culminating in Hegel’s system of absolute idealism. Since Hegel, however, the philosophical quest for unity has become increasingly problematic. Jussi Backman returns to that question in this book, examining the place of the unity of being in the work of Heidegger. Backman (...)
  8. Identity and Necessary Similarity.Raja Bahlul - 1992 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (4):531 - 546.
  9. The Ontological Status of Persons.Lynne Rudder Baker - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (2):370-388.
    Throughout his illustrious career, Roderick Chisholm was concerned with the nature of persons. On his view, persons are what he called ‘entia per se.’ They exist per se, in their own right. I too have developed an account of persons—I call it the ‘Constitution View’—an account that is different in important ways from Chisholm’s. Here, however, I want to focus on a thesis that Chisholm and I agree on: that persons have ontological significance in virtue of being persons. Although I’ll (...)
  10. Identity of MaṇḍanamiśraIdentity of Mandanamisra.R. Balasubramanian - 1962 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 82 (4):522.
  11. Appearance, Identity and Ontology.Renford Bambrough - 1974 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 75:69 - 76.
  12. V—Appearance, Identity and Ontology.Renford Bambrough - 1974 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 75 (1):69-76.
  13. Identity and the Formation of the Notion of Object.Gilead Bar-Elli - 1982 - Erkenntnis 17 (2):229-248.
  14. Individuation and Identity in Early Modern Philosophy: Descartes to Kant.Kenneth F. Barber & Jorge J. E. Gracia (eds.) - 1994 - State University of New York Press.
    This book is the first to concentrate on the problems of individuation and identity in early modern philosophy and to trace their philosophical development through the period in a coherent way.
  15. Identity, Reference, and Quantifying In.Kenneth Thomas Barnes - 1972 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  16. Normative Identity.Per Bauhn - 2017 - Rowman & Littlefield International.
    This book describes what it means to have a normative identity and critically evaluates this kind of identity from the point of view of rational agency.
  17. Grammars of Identity/Alterity a Structural Approach.Gerd Baumann & Andrâe Gingrich - 2004
  18. Kinds of Being.Michael Baur - 1992 - Review of Metaphysics 46 (1):166-168.
  19. The Identity of Indiscernibles and the Formalist Definition of " Identity ".Gustav Bebqmann - 1953 - Mind 62 (245):75-79.
  20. Three Paradoxical Aspects of Identity.Heinrich Behmann - 1963 - Ratio 5 (2):113.
  21. Toward a Concept of Human Identity.Lynne Belaief - 1966 - Philosophy Today 10 (2):109.
  22. Development of Identity.D. M. Bell - 2010 - In Ronald L. Jackson (ed.), Encyclopedia of Identity. Sage Publications. pp. 1.
  23. Identity, Schmidentity — It's Not All the Same.David Benfield & Edward Erwin - 1975 - Philosophical Studies 27 (2):145 - 148.
  24. Individuals.Gustav Bergmann - 1958 - Philosophical Studies 9 (5-6):78 - 85.
  25. Identity, Logic and Structure.J. Y. Béziau - 1996 - Bulletin of the Section of Logic 25:89-94.
  26. On Discernibility and Symmetries.Tomasz Bigaj - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (1):117-135.
    This paper addresses the issue of the multiplicity of various grades of discernibility that can be defined in model theory. Building upon earlier works on the subject, I first expand the known logical categorizations of discernibility by introducing several symmetry-based concepts of discernibility, including one I call “witness symmetry-discernibility”. Then I argue that only grades of discernibility stronger than this one possess certain intuitive features necessary to individuate objects. Further downsizing of the set of non-equivalent grades of discernibility can be (...)
  27. L’Identité des indiscernablesThe Identity of Indiscernibles.Max Black - 2012 - Philosophia Scientiae 16:121-132.
  28. L’Identité des indiscernablesThe Identity of Indiscernibles.Max Black - 2012 - Philosophia Scientae 16:121-132.
  29. Rejoinder to My Critics.Brand Blanshard - 1967 - Review of Metaphysics 21 (2):262 - 272.
  30. Self, Identity, Society / Én, Identitás, Társadalom.Barna Bodo - 2003 - Studia Philosophica 1.
    The identity and its relative balance imply, in every case, the existence of two parallel factors, of value conserving and representation. The individual becomes as he is by the acceptance of his particular characteristics, respectively, the representation of these mean the acceptance and representation of the existent - the confirmation, more precisely, the possibility of this. The question is if we can talk about, and in which sense, about parallel and respectively, overlapping identity types? The father of the discipline, E.H. (...)
  31. Identity and Origin.James Bogen - 1966 - Analysis 26 (5):160 - 165.
  32. Is an Account of Identity Necessary for Bioethics? What Post-Genomic Biomedicine Can Teach Us.Giovanni Boniolo - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):401-411.
    Is a theory of identity necessary for bioethics? In this paper I investigate that question starting from an empirical explication of identity based on post-genomics, in particular on epigenetics. After analysing whether the classic problems a theory of identity has to cope with also affect the proposed epigenetic account of identity, I deal with three topics to offer an insight on the relationship between that account and bioethics.
  33. An Existential-Phenomenological Investigation of Identity Confusion as Exemplified by Adolescent Suicide Attempts.Charles William Bonner - 1993 - Dissertation, Duquesne University
    It is well established that Erik Erikson introduced the 'identity crisis' as a normative aspect of adolescent development, one constituted by the tension of 'identity vs. identity confusion'. While the 'identity' dimension of this tension has received widespread recognition, the problematic pole of 'identity confusion' has been comparatively neglected. This study seeks to remedy this research deficit. ;The study's literature review serves a twofold purpose: To explicate the controversial issues concerning the psychological conceptualization of human identity, and To establish adolescent (...)
  34. Réponse a M. Evans Et a Quelques Autres.F. Bonsack - 1962 - Dialectica 16 (1):83-91.
    RésuméL'auteur montre que si l'argumentation d'Einstein paraǐt classique sur presque tous les points, elle ne l'est pas sur un point fondamental, qui est l'égalité de la vitesse de la lumière dans toutes les directions. Si l'on laisse tomber ce postulat, on retombe sur la simultanéité absolue. D'autre part, ce « classicisme » est légitime et apparaǐt au contraire comme une habileté didactique. Enfin, il montre que le point qui déroute M. Evans, c'est la relativité de la vitesse relative, qui n'existe (...)
  35. The Philosophical Importance of a True Theory of Identity.Bernard Bosanquet - 1888 - Mind 13 (51):356-369.
  36. Kripke on Identity and Necessity.David Bostock - 1977 - Philosophical Quarterly 27 (109):313-324.
  37. Persona and Paradox: Issues of Identity for C.S. Lewis, His Friends and Associates.Suzanne Bray & William Gray (eds.) - 2012 - Cambridge Scholars Press.
  38. Identity and Distinction in Petrus Thomae, O.F.M.Geoffrey G. Bridges - 1959 - St. Bonaventure, N.Y., Franciscan Institute.
  39. One. The Theory of Identity for Enduring Objects.Baruch A. Brody - 1980 - In Identity and Essence. Princeton University Press. pp. 1-23.
  40. Is There a Philosophical Problem About the Identity of Substances?Baruch A. Brody - 1971 - Philosophia 1 (1-2):43-59.
  41. The Unity of the Mind.D. H. M. Brooks - 1994 - St Martin's Press.
  42. Being.Kevin Brooks - 2007 - Scholastic.
  43. Semantic Features of the Identities of Persons.Mark T. Brown - 1987 - Dissertation, University of Kansas
    The chief goal of this dissertation is to attain some clarity with respect to the interconnected issues which constitute the problem of personal identity. The logical and linguistic categories developed by Saul Kripke provide the tools through which these issues can be separated and put into perspective. In the first two chapters I examine the modal and other semantic features of rigid singular terms and such rigid predicates as natural kind terms. I defend both the transworld identity of named individuals (...)
  44. Lockean Mechanism and the Principle of Identity.Cedric Brun - 2007 - Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 28 (2):141-165.
  45. Die Einheit des Individuums: Eine Studie Zur Ontologie der Einzeldinge.Friedemann Buddensiek - 2006 - De Gruyter.
    In der Kohdrenz des Gef]ges besteht die Einheit des Individuums.
  46. Contrasting Differences in Identity and Agency Between Narrative and Autopoietic Systems.Nico Buitendag - 2013 - Hts Theological Studies 69 (1):01-09.
  47. The Things We Do with Identity.Alexis Burgess - forthcoming - Mind:fzw031.
    There is something odd about numerical identity. On the one hand, we appear to use the concept of identity all the time in ordinary thought and talk (not to mention metaphysics or mathematics). ‘Is that the same shirt you wore yesterday?’ On the other hand, the distribution of the identity relation seems completely trivial and uninteresting: everything is identical to itself and nothing else. So why do we bother representing identity? Why do we even have the concept? What exactly is (...)
  48. Extending Identity Control Theory: Insights From Classifier Systems.Peter J. Burke - 2004 - Sociological Theory 22 (4):574-594.
    Within identity control theory (ICT), identities control meaning and resources by bringing perceptions of these in the situation into alignment with references levels given in the identity standard. This article seeks to resolve three issues in ICT having to do with the source of the identity standard, the correspondence between identity standards and the identity relevant meanings perceived in the situation or environment, and the activation of identities. Classifier systems, as developed by John Holland, are inductive, flexible, rule-based, message-passing, adaptive (...)
  49. The Social Construction of Consciousness, Part 2: Individual Selves, Self-Awareness, and Reflectivity.Tom R. Burns - 1998 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 5 (2):166-184.
  50. The Identity of Thomas the Slavonian.J. B. Bury - 1892 - Byzantinische Zeitschrift 1 (1):55-60.
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