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 Kim et al 2011.

Related categories

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Material to categorize
  1. V—Appearance, Identity and Ontology.Renford Bambrough - 1975 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 75 (1):69-76.
  2. Appearance, Identity and Ontology.Renford Bambrough - 1974 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 75:69 - 76.
  3. Identity and the Formation of the Notion of Object.Gilead Bar-Elli - 1982 - Erkenntnis 17 (2):229-248.
  4. 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.
  5. Identity, Reference, and Quantifying In.Kenneth Thomas Barnes - 1972 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  6. 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.
  7. Grammars of Identity/Alterity a Structural Approach.Gerd Baumann & Andrâe Gingrich - 2004
  8. Kinds of Being.Michael Baur - 1992 - Review of Metaphysics 46 (1):166-168.
  9. Three Paradoxical Aspects of Identity.Heinrich Behmann - 1963 - Ratio (Misc.) 5 (2):113.
  10. Development of Identity.D. M. Bell - 2010 - In Ronald L. Jackson (ed.), Encyclopedia of Identity. Sage Publications. pp. 1.
  11. Identity, Schmidentity — It's Not All the Same.David Benfield & Edward Erwin - 1975 - Philosophical Studies 27 (2):145 - 148.
  12. Individuals.Gustav Bergmann - 1958 - Philosophical Studies 9 (5-6):78 - 85.
  13. Identity, Logic and Structure.J. Y. Béziau - 1996 - Bulletin of the Section of Logic 25:89-94.
  14. Rejoinder to My Critics.Brand Blanshard - 1967 - Review of Metaphysics 21 (2):262 - 272.
  15. 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. (...)
  16. 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.
  17. 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 (...)
  18. 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 (...)
  19. The Philosophical Importance of a True Theory of Identity.Bernard Bosanquet - 1888 - Mind 13 (51):356-369.
  20. Persona and Paradox: Issues of Identity for C.S. Lewis, His Friends and Associates.Suzanne Bray & William Gray (eds.) - 2012 - Cambridge Scholars Press.
  21. Identity and Distinction in Petrus Thomae, O.F.M.Geoffrey G. Bridges - 1959 - St. Bonaventure, N.Y., Franciscan Institute.
  22. One. The Theory of Identity for Enduring Objects.Baruch A. Brody - 1980 - In Identity and Essence. Princeton University Press. pp. 1-23.
  23. Is There a Philosophical Problem About the Identity of Substances?Baruch A. Brody - 1971 - Philosophia 1 (1-2):43-59.
  24. Identities and Indiscernibility.Guus Broesterhuizen & J. Wierzejewski - 1986 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 27 (4):592-605.
  25. The Unity of the Mind.D. H. M. Brooks - 1994 - St Martin's Press.
  26. Being.Kevin Brooks - 2007 - Scholastic.
  27. 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 (...)
  28. Lockean Mechanism and the Principle of Identity.Cedric Brun - 2007 - Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 28 (2):141-165.
  29. 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.
  30. Contrasting Differences in Identity and Agency Between Narrative and Autopoietic Systems.Nico Buitendag - 2013 - Hts Theological Studies 69 (1):01-09.
  31. 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 (...)
  32. 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.
  33. Being Qua Being: A Theory of Identity, Existence, and Predication.Panayot Butchvarov - 1979 - Indiana University Press.
    Are there nonexistent things? What is the nature of informative identity statements? Are the notions of essential property and of essence intelligible, and, if so, how are they to be understood? Are individual things material substances or clusters of qualities? Can the account of the unity of a complex entity avoid vicious infinite regresses? These questions have attracted widespread attention among philosophers recently, as evidenced by a proliferation of articles in the leading philosophical journals. In Being Qua Being they receive (...)
  34. Identity.Panayot Butchvarov - 1977 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2 (1):70-89.
  35. A Nonmaterialistic Identity Thesis.Clark Wade Butler - 1972 - Idealistic Studies 2 (no.):231-248.
  36. Metamorphosis and Identity.Caroline Walker Bynum - 2001 - the Mit Press.
  37. The Inexplicability of Identity.Stewart Candlish - 1971 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 49 (1):23 – 37.
  38. Identity as a Relational Strategy.Dominique Cardon - 2009 - Hermès: La Revue Cognition, communication, politique 53 (1):61 - +.
  39. The Role of Essence in Existential Metaphysics.William E. Carlo - 1962 - International Philosophical Quarterly 2 (4):557-590.
  40. Persons and Things.Herbert Wildon Carr - 1932 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 13 (1):13.
  41. Cardinality and Identity.Massimiliano Carrara & Elisabetta Sacchi - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 36 (5):539-556.
    P.T. Geach has maintained (see, e.g., Geach (1967/1968)) that identity (as well as dissimilarity) is always relative to a general term. According to him, the notion of absolute identity has to be abandoned and replaced by a multiplicity of relative identity relations for which Leibniz's Law - which says that if two objects are identical they have the same properties - does not hold. For Geach relative identity is at least as good as Frege's cardinality thesis which he takes to (...)
  42. Designation and Identity.Mario F. Del Carril - 1978 - Critica 10 (28):57 - 75.
  43. The Concept of Identity, by Eli Hirsch. [REVIEW]W. R. Carter - 1984 - Philosophical Review 93 (3):468.
  44. Individuation and Non-Identity: A New Look.Hector-Neri Castañeda - 1975 - American Philosophical Quarterly 12 (2):131 - 140.
  45. Identity and Sameness.Hector-Neri Castañeda - 1975 - Philosophia 5 (1-2):121-150.
  46. Referent Tracking of Portions of Reality. Docket No. 1097.015A (USPA 2009055437).Werner Ceusters, Shahid Manzoor & Barry Smith - 2008 - In U.S. Patent Application. US Patent Office.
    Management of information is facilitated by unambiguously tracking portions of reality over time. To track the portions of reality, a referent tracking system is used. The referent tracking system is able to communicate with other tracking systems and/or tradition information systems. Errors in the referent tracking system are detected and corrected to maintain actual representations of the portions of reality.
  47. Referent Tracking and its Applications.Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith - 2007 - In Proceedings of the Workshop WWW2007 Workshop i3: Identity, Identifiers, Identification (Workshop on Entity-Centric Approaches to Information and Knowledge Management on the Web), Banff, Canada. CEUR.
    Referent tracking (RT) is a new paradigm, based on unique identification, for representing and keeping track of particulars. It was first introduced to support the entry and retrieval of data in electronic health records (EHRs). Its purpose is to avoid the ambiguity that arises when statements in an EHR refer to disorders or other entities on the side of the patient exclusively by means of compound descriptions utilizing general terms such as ‘pimple on nose’ or ‘small left breast tumor’. In (...)
  48. Identity and Reference.Tobias Chapman - 1973 - Mind 82 (328):542-556.
  49. Intersystematic Identity and Conceptual Explication.Chung-Ying Cheng - 1971 - International Logic Review 4:181.
  50. The Many Persons Problem.Charles S. Chihara - 1994 - Philosophical Studies 76 (1):45 - 49.
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