Identity

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

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 1990 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 1995 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.

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  1. How to Deal with the Puzzle of Coincident Objects.Ataollah Hashemi - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Alberta
    The grounding problem is related to the puzzle of numerically distinct spatiotemporally coincident objects. Suppose Lumpl –a lump of clay– and Goliath – the statue – are created and later destroyed, simultaneously. They would share all of their physical and spatiotemporal properties and relations. But, Goliath and Lumpl have different modal and sortal properties, which would suggest they are distinct entities, while at the same time entirely co-located. This issue creates a puzzle and raises the question of how two distinct (...)
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  2. The Counteridentical Account of Explanatory Identities.Isaac Wilhelm - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (2):57-78.
    Many explanations rely on identity facts. In this paper, I propose an account of how identity facts explain: roughly, the fact that A is identical to B explains another fact whenever that other fact depends, counterfactually, on A being identical to B. As I show, this account has many virtues. It avoids several problems facing accounts of explanatory identities, and when precisified using structural equations, it can be used to defend interventionist accounts of causation against an objection.
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  3. How to Get Necessity From Essence Via Identity (or Not?).Yannic Kappes - manuscript
    Jessica Leech ("From Essence to Necessity via Identity") has recently challenged proponents of the essentialist theory of modality (ETM) to show why essence "should generate necessity". In particular, she argues that Correia’s and Skiles’ ("Grounding, Essence, and Identity") theory of essence in terms of generalized identity, while initially promising for proponents of ETM, cannot solve the challenge. -/- On the surface, the challenge is to justify the assumption that essence claims (and hence generalized identities) are necessary. The first part of (...)
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  4. Peter Jonkers and Oliver J. Wiertz, Eds., Religious Truth and Identity in an Age of Plurality.Jeffrey Hoops - 2020 - Philosophia Christi 22 (1):168-172.
  5. What Does Faith Exclude? Catholic Hegemony and the Construction of Ilustrado Nationalism.Michael Roland Hernandez - 2015 - Filocracia: An Online Journal of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Study 2 (1):34-46.
    This paper traces the conceptual resources of Philippine ilustrado nationalism in the specific concept of Filipino identity given by Father Jose Burgos in his acclaimed Manifiesto. It argues that the racial and social exclusivism essential to ilustrado nationalist ideology can be traced to the essentially religious character of Burgos' anti-friar polemic. By tracing this essential connection between Filipino identity and Catholicity, we are reminded of the dangers connected with the emancipatory promises ushered by nativist and ethnocentric thinking.
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  6. Modal Meinongianism and Object Theory.Francesco Berto, Filippo Casati, Naoya Fujikawa & Graham Priest - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Logic 17 (1):1.
    We reply to various arguments by Otavio Bueno and Edward Zalta against Modal Meinongianism, including that it presupposes, but cannot maintain, a unique denotation for names of fictional characters, and that it is not generalizable to higher-order objects. We individuate the crucial difference between Modal Meinongianism and Object Theory in the former’s resorting to an apparatus of worlds, possible and impossible, for the representational purposes for which the latter resorts to a distinction between two kinds of predication, exemplification and encoding. (...)
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  7. The Limits of Neo‐Aristotelian Plenitude.Joshua Spencer - 2020 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101 (1):74-92.
    Neo‐Aristotelian Plenitude is the thesis that, necessarily, any property that could be had essentially by something or other is had essentially by something or other if and only if and because it is instantiated; any essentializable property is essentialized iff and because it is instantiated. In this paper, I develop a partial nonmodal characterization of ‘essentializable' and show it cannot be transformed into a full characterization. There are several seemingly insurmountable obstacles that any full characterization of essentializability must overcome. Moreover, (...)
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  8. Translation and Metaphysics: A Case for Fictional Characters.Italo Lins Lemos - 2020 - Cadernos de Tradução 40 (1):110-126.
    If different translations of the same literary work have different syntaxes and semantics, how are they supposed to be about one and the same fictional character? In order to answer this question it’s necessary to (a) know what fictional characters are and (b) present reference conditions for them. Relying on Amie Thomasson’s (1999, 2003, 2007) and Saul Kripke’s (1980, 2013) works I argue that fictional characters are abstract artifacts whose reference is fixed by the baptism performed by an author; and (...)
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  9. Extending the Debate on the Argument From Reason.Victor Reppert - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (2):517-539.
    In our exchange in the book, C. S. Lewis’s Christian Apologetics: Pro and Con, edited by Gregory Bassham, David Kyle Johnson argued that four naturalistic views, property dualism, the identity theory, epiphenomenalism, and eliminative materialism, can all meet the challenge posed by a C. S. Lewis–style argument from reason. I maintain that his response fails to take into account what a consistent naturalism is committed to, and that his defenses of these positions fail to put those positions in the clear.
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  10. Intentionality Contra Physicalism.Dallas Willard & Brandon Rickabaugh - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (2):497-515.
    We argue for the mind’s independence from the body. We do so by making several moves. First, we analyze two popular kinds of reasons which have swayed many to adopt the independence of the mind from the body. Second, we advance an argument from the ontology of intentionality against the identity thesis, according to which the mind is identical to the brain. We try to show how intentionality is not reducible to or identical to the physical. Lastly, we argue that, (...)
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  11. The Metaphysics of Jonathan Edwards’s “Personal Narrative”: Continuous Creation, Personal Identity, and Spiritual Development.Christopher Woznicki - 2019 - Neue Zeitschrift für Systematicsche Theologie Und Religionsphilosophie 61 (2):184-206.
    Name der Zeitschrift: Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie Jahrgang: 61 Heft: 2 Seiten: 184-206.
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  12. The Son of God and Trinitarian Identity Statements.Matthew Owen & John Anthony Dunne - 2019 - TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology 3 (1):33-59.
    Classical Trinitarians claim that Jesus—the Son of God—is truly God and that there is only one God and the Father is God, the Spirit is God, and the Father, Son, and Spirit are distinct. However, if the identity statement that ‘the Son is God’ is understood in the sense of numerical identity, logical incoherence seems immanent. Yet, if the identity statement is understood according to an ‘is’ of predication then it lacks accuracy and permits polytheism. Therefore, we argue that there (...)
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  13. Craftspersonhood: The Forging of Selfhood Through Making.Jonathan Morgan - manuscript
    This paper examines the unique structures of identity formation within the craftsperson/maker mindset and their relation to Western views of work and labor. The contemporary Maker Movement has its origins not only in the internet revolution, but also in the revival of handicraft during the last several economic recessions. Economic uncertainty drives people toward the ideals and practices of craft as a way to regain a sense of agency and control. One learns how to become an active participant in our (...)
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  14. Is Identity Really so Fundamental?Décio Krause & Jonas R. Becker Arenhart - 2019 - Foundations of Science 24 (1):51-71.
    We critically examine the claim that identity is a fundamental concept. According to those putting forward this thesis, there are four related reasons that can be called upon to ground the fundamental character of identity: identity is presupposed in every conceptual system; identity is required to characterize individuality; identity cannot be defined; the intelligibility of quantification requires identity. We address each of these points and argue that none of them advances compelling reasons to hold that identity is fundamental; in fact, (...)
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  15. Nagi substrat i teoria jednostkowienia.Karol Lenart - 2017 - In Natalia Anna Michna (ed.), Kierunki badawcze w filozofii 2017 "Nowe Horyzonty wiedzy". Łódź, Polska: pp. 67-76.
    W artykule rozważana jest koncepcja nagiego substratu w kontekście problemu indywiduacji. Głównym celem tekstu jest obrona teorii nagiego substratu (TNS) przed klasycznymi oraz współczesnymi zarzutami. Tok rozważań jest następujący: Autor we wstępie definiuje problem jednostkowienia i systematyzuje obecną dyskusję nad tym zagadnieniem. Następnie skupia się na porównaniu teorii wiązki i teorii nagiego substratu, ujętych jako alternatywne wyjaśnienia jednostkowości przedmiotów. Celem porównania dwóch teorii jest przedstawienie motywacji stojących za przyjęciem TNS. Głównym elementem tekstu jest punkt 2, w którym analizuje podstawowe założenia (...)
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  16. David Wiggins, Continuants: Their Activity, Their Being and Their Identity. Twelve Essays, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, 239 Pp., $50.00 (£35.00) (Hardback), ISBN: 9780198716624. [REVIEW]Robert Michels - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (2):325-328.
    Book review of: David Wiggins, Continuants: Their Activity, Their Being and Their Identity. Twelve Essays.
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  17. Transitivity of Visual Sameness.Błażej Skrzypulec - 2020 - Synthese 197 (6):2695-2719.
    The way in which vision represents objects as being the same despite movement and qualitative changes has been extensively investigated in contemporary psychology. However, the formal properties of the visual sameness relation are still unclear, for example, whether it is an identity-like, equivalence relation. The paper concerns one aspect of this problem: the transitivity of visual sameness. Results obtained by using different experimental paradigms are analysed, in particular studies using streaming/bouncing stimuli, multiple object tracking experiments and investigations concerning object-specific preview (...)
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  18. La Multiplicidad de los Entes según Tomás de Aquino.Fernando Riofrío Zúñiga - 2017 - Saarbrüken, Germany: Editorial Académica Española. OmniScriptum.
    These PhD Dissertation published as a book is a research on Metaphysics about the problem of Multiplicity explained by its principles on the grounds of Aristotle's Metaphysics focused on substance and metaphysical thought of Aquinas. According to Aquinas the multitude of forms are the cause of multiplicity of beings. Super Boethium De Trinitate has an importan treatment of matter and form as causes of substantial identity, of substance's non-being and something else and be a this. Therefore the multiplicity of beings (...)
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  19. The Concept of Identity. [REVIEW]W. R. Carter - 1984 - Philosophical Review 93 (3):468.
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  20. Authenticity.Anna Karlström - 2015 - In Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels & Trinidad Rico (eds.), Heritage Keywords. University Press of Colorado.
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  21. 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.
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  22. 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 (...)
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  23. The Argument From Almost Indiscernibles.Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3005-3020.
    What I call the argument from almost indiscernibles is an argument, put forward by Robert Adams in 1979, for the possibility of indiscernibles based on the possibility of almost indiscernibles. The argument is that if almost indiscernibles are possible, indiscernibles are possible, but since almost indiscernible are possible, indiscernibles are possible. The argument seems to be an improvement over the mere appeal to intuitions, like that suggested by Max Black, that situations in which there are indiscernibles are possible, for the (...)
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  24. Thomistic Thoughts on Changing Representations of Self and Other.Giuseppe Butera - 2017 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 24 (3):261-264.
    Alexandra Pârvan's appropriation of Augustine's metaphysical distinction between self and action is both creative and laudable. It surely has the potential to add an important element to the treatment of both victims and perpetrators of violence by helping them to change negative self-models that puts them at risk "for both receipt and perpetration of relationship violence". What I would like to do is suggest ways that this potential might be increased i) through a more refined understanding of Augustine's distinction between (...)
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  25. Counting by Identity: A Reply to Liebesman.Oliver R. Marshall - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (2):385-390.
    David Liebesman argues that we never count by identity. He generalizes from an argument that we don't do so with sentences indicating fractions, or with measurement sentences on their supposed count readings. In response, I argue that measurement sentences aren't covered by the thesis that we count by identity, in part because they don't have count readings. Then I use the data to which Liebesman appeals, in his argument that we don't count by identity using measurement sentences, in order to (...)
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  26. Definition of Identity of Structure.Austin E. Duncan-Jones - 1934 - Analysis 2 (1-2):14-18.
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  27. Kabīr and the Print Sphere: Negotiating Identity.Peter Friedlander - 2012 - Thesis Eleven 113 (1):45-56.
    For Hindi speakers Kabīr (ca. 1398–1519) is a seminal figure in the early history of Hindi literature. The contemporary image of Kabīr is as a champion of an earthy spirituality which transcended all religious boundaries and a scathing critic of all established religions. In this paper I examine how prior to the 19th century multiple identities for Kabīr were transmitted through oral and manuscript based traditions at networks of local sites. I then show how in the 19th century regional perceptions (...)
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  28. The Metaphysics of Identity: Is Identity Fundamental?Shumener Erica - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (1):e12397.
    Identity and distinctness facts are ones like “The Eiffel Tower is identical to the Eiffel Tower,” and “The Eiffel Tower is distinct from the Louvre.” This paper concerns one question in the metaphysics of identity: Are identity and distinctness facts metaphysically fundamental or are they nonfundamental? I provide an overview of answers to this question.
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  29. Identity and Countability.O. R. Jones - 1964 - Analysis 24 (6):201.
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  30. Is an Account of Identity Necessary for Bioethics? What Post-Genomic Biomedicine Can Teach Us.Giovanni Boniolo - 2013 - 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.
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  31. Noonan, 'best candidate' theories and the ship of Theseus.B. J. Garrett - 1985 - Analysis 45 (4):212.
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  32. Objects and Identity. By Harold Noonan. [REVIEW]D. E. Over - 1984 - Mind 93 (369):144-146.
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  33. Constitución, identidad y existencia intermitente.Enrique Romerales Espinosa - 2003 - Revista de Filosofía (Madrid) 28 (1):107-127.
    ¿Pueden dos objetos ocupar completamente el mismo espacio durante toda su existencia? La teoría estándar nos dice que sí, siempre y cuando pertenezcan a sortales diferentes; esto ocurre cuando un objeto constituye a otro. Sin embargo, para evitar los objetos espacio-temporalmente coincidentes se han propuesto muchas hipótesis, que no han alcanzado consenso. Un modo inexplorado de responder negativamente a la pregunta es aceptar que si un objeto constituye a otro sólo existe el constituido. Eso implica aceptar la existencia intermitente, cuya (...)
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  34. Designation and Identity.Mario F. Del Carril - 1978 - Critica 10 (28):57-75.
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  35. Identidad numérica y correferencialidad.Agustín Arrieta Urtizberea - 2005 - Critica 37 (109):3-28.
    Este trabajo constituye una defensa del carácter relacional de la identidad. Algunos filósofos han puesto en duda la identidad en cuanto que relación; Armstrong es uno de ellos. Una réplica a sus argumentos, además de a aquellos que consideran la identidad en términos de correferencialidad, nos lleva a la aceptación de la identidad como relación de razón. También se propone una interpretación de los enunciados de identidad que resulte compatible con los data acerca de la identidad. En esta tarea, son (...)
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  36. Language and Identity: Bakhtin’s Model of Social Change.Ajay Bhadra Khanal - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry 2 (4):1-7.
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  37. Glissant’s Opacité and the De-Nationalization of Identity.Adlai Murdoch - 2012 - CLR James Journal 18 (1):14-33.
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  38. Précis of Objects and Persons.Trenton Merricks - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (3):700-703.
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  39. Human Persistence.Rory Madden - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16.
    Both advocates and opponents of the animalist view that we are fundamentally biological organisms have typically assumed that animalism is incompatible with intuitive verdicts about cerebrum isolation and transplantation. It is argued here that this assumption is a mistake. Animalism, developed in a natural way, in fact strongly supports these intuitive verdicts. The availability of this attractive resolution of a central puzzle in the personal identity debate has been obscured by a range of factors, including the prevalence in contemporary metaphysics (...)
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  40. Identity and Markers of Adulthood: The Relationship Between Two Constructs.Konrad Piotrowski & Anna Izabela Brzezińska - 2013 - Polish Psychological Bulletin 44 (3):254-265.
    The article presents both the classical and contemporary approaches to the analysis of identity formation. Special emphasis has been placed on the processual approach, in which identity is regarded as a dynamic construct that remains in constant, mutual relations with personal and contextual factors. Since research on identity has been predominantly based on studies conducted on individuals in adolescence and early adulthood, i.e. in the time of transition to adulthood, the article focuses on adulthood markers that may be found in (...)
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  41. 6. From the Actual to the Possible: Non-Identity Thinking.Deborah Cook - 2005 - In Jonathan Short, Michael Palamarek, Kathy Kiloh, Colin J. Campbell & Donald Burke (eds.), Adorno and the Need in Thinking. University of Toronto Press. pp. 163-180.
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  42. Identity Processing Style and Defense Mechanisms.Andrew Kinney & Michael Berzonsky - 2008 - Polish Psychological Bulletin 39 (3):111-117.
    Identity Processing Style and Defense Mechanisms To investigate relationships between identity processing styles and patterns of defense mechanisms, 213 participants completed measures of defense-mechanism clusters and styles of negotiating identity conflicts and threats. A self-exploratory, informational identity style was associated with defense mechanisms that control anxiety and threats via internal cognitive maneuvers. In contrast, a diffuse-avoidant identity style was found to be related to maladaptive defensive maneuvers including turning against others and turning aggression inward against oneself, which is related to (...)
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  43. Ancient Israelite Identity.Peter H. W. Lau - 2010 - In Identity and Ethics in the Book of Ruth: A Social Identity Approach. De Gruyter.
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  44. Identity and Ethics in the Book of Ruth: A Social Identity Approach.Peter H. W. Lau - 2010 - De Gruyter.
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  45. A Continuidade Física Garante a Persistência Pessoal No Tempo.Hugo Luzio - 2016 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 72 (2-3):699-724.
    In the following sections we hold that physical continuity suffices personal persistence through time. First, we determine the theoretic and conceptual grounds of the metaphysical problem of personal identity, the relevant notion of «personal identity», the temporal persistence question simpliciter, what identity criteria and individuation principles are, and the formal properties of the identity concept. We differentiate between the simple and complex views, stating the reductionist thesis transversal to the latter. In the central sections, we discuss the main arguments and (...)
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  46. Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View.Peter van Inwagen - 2002 - Philosophical Review 111 (1):138.
    Philosophers of mind have not in general been very attentive to metaphysics. This book is a salutary exception to this general observation. A philosopher of mind—at least the body of her very influential work would be classified by most philosophers as belonging to the philosophy of mind—attempts to ground a theory of the relation between human persons and their bodies in an extended essay on the metaphysics of the natural world. Baker is a materialist : in her book, you and (...)
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  47. The Metaphysics of Identity Over Time. [REVIEW]Eli Hirsch - 1995 - Philosophical Review 104 (3):469-471.
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  48. Objects and Identity: An Examination of the Relative Identity Thesis and its Consequences.C. D. C. Reeve & Harold W. Noonan - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (4):633.
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  49. Occasions of Identity: The Metaphysics of Persistence, Change, and Sameness.Alan Sidelle & Andre Gallois - 2000 - Philosophical Review 109 (3):469.
    André Gallois’s Occasions of Identity is a detailed, well-written presentation and defense of one attempt to solve many of the recently much discussed puzzles in the metaphysics of material objects. It is engaging not only for Gallois’s ingenious attempt to defend his view that objects can be “occasionally identical”—identical at one time but not another —but for his discussion throughout of the puzzles and of alternative solutions. Gallois does a fine job of keeping the motivations for a position, whether his (...)
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  50. On the Identity of the Toponym LÚ.SuOn the Identity of the Toponym LU.Su.Piotr Steinkeller - 1988 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 108 (2):197.
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