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About this topic
Summary Theories of personal identity are, most often, theories of what makes X, a person, at one time numerically identical to Y at another time.  Such theories fall into two very general categories.  On reductionist views, the facts about identity across time simply consist in facts about brains, bodies, or interrelated physical or mental events.  On nonreductionist views, the facts about identity do not consist simply in such facts, but also consist in facts about, e.g., souls or Cartesian egos.  Among reductionist theories, there are two general approaches: psychological and biological.  On psychological approaches, what makes X and Y identical is typically continuity of some subset of psychological features.  On biological approaches, what makes X and Y identical is typically continuity of the person's biological (animal) organism.
Key works Derek Parfit offers and explains the distinction between nonreductionist and reductionist views of personal identity in Parfit 1984 (a distinction he originally labeled as between "simple" and "complex" views in Parfit 1973).  For the original statement of a psychological criterion of identity, see John Locke's "persistence of consciousness" view in Locke & Nidditch 1979.  For nonreductionist rejoinders, see Thomas Reid's Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man and Butler 1736.  For contemporary advocacy of a psychological criterion, see, in addition to Parfit, Harold Noonan's Personal Identity and Sydney Shoemaker's contribution in Shoemaker & Swinburne 1984 (and for contemporary nonreductionism about identity, see Swinburne's contribution).  For contemporary advocacy of a biological criterion, see Olson 1997.
Introductions Good introductions include Perry 1978, Perry 1975, and Olson 2002.
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  1. Person Und Selbsttranszendenz. Ekstase Und Epoché des Ego Als Individuationsprozesse Bei Schelling Und Scheler.Guido Cusinato - 2012 - Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.
    The main theory at the core of this monograph is that the person is an entity ontologically new, since she is able to perform an act of self-transcendence, which is meant as her critical distancing from her own “self”, understood as subject of social recognition (Anerkennung), in order to open to the encounter with the world (Weltoffenheit). This allows us to consider a person in a new way, different both from confessional interpretations that see her only as a center of (...)
  2. La Totalità incompiuta. Antropologia filosofica e ontologia della persona.Guido Cusinato - 2008 - Milano: FrancoAngeli.
    "Siamo come lucciole che hanno disimparato a illuminare e che prima si sono messe a girare attorno alla lanterna magica dell'ideale ascetico e ora attorno alle insegne pubblicitarie al neon. Lucciole che hanno scordato d’avere una potenzialità di orientatività preziosa nel proprio sistema affettivo" (G. Cusinato, La totalità incompiuta, Milano 2008, 314). -/- Che cos'è una persona? Come si costituisce concretamente l'identità personale? Che rapporto c'è fra identità personale e identità psichica? C'è coincidenza fra persona e homo sapiens? La persona (...)
  3. Michael Quante, Person (Grundthemen Philosophie). [REVIEW]Anne Sophie Meincke - 2009 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 116:221-225.
  4. Cordula Brand, Personale Identität oder menschliche Persistenz? Ein naturalistisches Kriterium. [REVIEW]Anne Sophie Meincke - 2012 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 119:418-424.
  5. Ohne Metaphysik, bitte!? Transtemporale personale Identität als praktische Wirklichkeit (Without Metaphysics?! Transtemporal Personal Identity as Practical Reality).Anne Sophie Meincke - 2013 - In Georg Gasser & Martina Schmidhuber (eds.), Personale Identität, Narrativität und praktische Rationalität. Münster, Germany: pp. 241-265.
  6. Persönlichkeit und personale Identität. Zur Fragwürdigkeit eines substanztheoretischen Vorurteils (Personality and Personal Identity. On a Dubious Substance Ontological Prejudice).Anne Sophie Meincke - 2014 - In Orsolya Friedrich & Michael Zichy (eds.), Persönlichkeit. Neurowissenschaftliche und neurophilosophische Fragestellungen. Münster, Germany: pp. 163-187.
  7. Human Persons – A Process View.Anne Sophie Meincke - forthcoming - In Jörg Ulrich Noller (ed.), Was sind und wie existieren Personen? Münster, Germany: pp. 53-76.
    What are persons and how do they exist? The predominant answer to this question in Western metaphysics is that persons, human and others, are, and exist as, substances, i.e., ontologically independent, well-demarcated things defined by an immutable (usually mental) essence. Change, on this view, is not essential for a person's identity; it is in fact more likely to be detrimental to it. In this chapter I want to suggest an alternative view of human persons which is motivated by an appreciation (...)
  8. Persons as Biological Processes: A Bio-Processual Way Out of the Personal Identity Dilemma.Anne Sophie Meincke - 2018 - In Daniel J. Nicholson & John Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows. Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford, UK: pp. 357-378.
    Human persons exist longer than a single moment in time; they persist through time. However, so far it has not been possible to make this natural and widespread assumption metaphysically comprehensible. The philosophical debate on personal identity is rather stuck in a dilemma: reductionist theories explain personal identity away, while non-reductionist theories fail to give any informative account at all. This chapter argues that this dilemma emerges from an underlying commitment, shared by both sides of in the debate, to an (...)
  9. Societies Within: Selfhood Through Dividualism & Relational Epistemology.Jonathan Morgan - manuscript
    Most see having their individuality stifled as equivalent to the terrible forced conformity found within speculative fiction like George Orwell's 1984. However, the oppression of others by those in power has often been justified through ideologies of individualism. If we look to animistic traditions, could we bridge the gap between these extremes? What effect would such a reevaluation of identity have on the modern understanding of selfhood? The term ' in-dividual' suggests an irreducible unit of identity carried underneath all of (...)
  10. Reasons Without Persons: Rationality, Identity, and Time, by Brian Hedden: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, Pp. Viii + 210, £40. [REVIEW]Matthew Kopec - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):623-623.
  11. Human Communion and Difference in Gregory of Nyssa: From Trinitarian Theology to the Philosophy of Human Person and Free Decision.Francisco Bastitta-Harriet - 2011 - In Volker H. Drecoll & Margitta Berghaus (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa: The Minor Treatises on Trinitarian Theology and Apollinarism (Vigiliae Christianae Supplements, 106). Leiden, Netherlands: pp. 337-349.
    In the Philosophical Anthropology of Gregory of Nyssa, inspired by his Trinitarian Theology, the new concept of hypostasis as a unique self implies for the first time the irreducibility of human person to the universal. Moreover, Gregory manages to account for both a deep communion of life and nature among all men and a clear distinction between persons, in a truly harmonious dynamism of the physical and the hypostatic. This union and distinction will also inspire his original conception of proaíresis, (...)
  12. Actualism and Its Author: Prospects for the Future of Gentile Studies.James Wakefield - 2017 - Il Pensiero Italiano. Rivista di Studi Filosofici 1 (2):27-45.
    This article describes the recent reception of Giovanni Gentile and his doctrine of actualism, describing the philosopher's rehabilitation as a major Italian thinker and actualism as a provocative account of socially situated consciousness. The discussion then turns to the future of Gentile studies, focusing on ways in which the ahistorical methods of analytic philosophy might help restore actualism and its author to their proper place in the philosophical canon.
  13. L'attualismo e il suo autore. Prospettive per la ricerca futura su Gentile.James Wakefield - 2017 - Il Pensiero Italiano. Rivista di Studi Filosofici 1 (2):47-68.
    This article describes the recent reception of Giovanni Gentile and his doctrine of actualism, describing the philosopher's rehabilitation as a major Italian thinker and actualism as a provocative account of socially situated consciousness. The discussion then turns to the future of Gentile studies, focusing on ways in which the ahistorical methods of analytic philosophy might help restore actualism and its author to their proper place in the philosophical canon.
  14. La conformación de la persona como relación asimétrica en Emanuel Lévinas.Alejandro Ordieres - 2015 - EN-CLAVES Del Pensamiento 9 (18):13-40.
    This article covers the different stages of the constitution of the person that goes beyond selfishness and self-affirmation and is formed as the inseparable unity of the metaphysical subject that is expressed in the "Other-in-the same" and "Being-for-the-other". This leads one to say that the person is intrinsically relation and exteriority that is realized in the language that transcends the inner self. This relationship, considered internally as a footprint, and in the exterior as visage, invokes a third party that establishes (...)
  15. Personal Identity.David Shoemaker & Kevin P. Tobia - forthcoming - In Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology. Oxford:
    Our aim in this entry is to articulate the state of the art in the moral psychology of personal identity. We begin by discussing the major philosophical theories of personal identity, including their shortcomings. We then turn to recent psychological work on personal identity and the self, investigations that often illuminate our person-related normative concerns. We conclude by discussing the implications of this psychological work for some contemporary philosophical theories and suggesting fruitful areas for future work on personal identity.
  16. Materialism Most Miserable: The Prospects for Dualist and Physicalist Accounts of Resurrection.Jonathan J. Loose - 2018 - In Jonathan J. Loose, Angus John Louis Menuge & J. P. Moreland (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism. Oxford, UK: pp. 470-487.
  17. Persons, Simplicity, and Substance.Eric Yang - 2018 - Philosophical Papers 47 (2):299-311.
    A novel argument has recently been advanced against materialism—the view that human persons are identical to composite, material objects. The argument claims that pairs of people are not conscious and that the only viable explanation for why they are not is because pairs of people are not simple. The argument concludes that only a simple thing can be the subject of conscious states. In this paper, I offer an alternative explanation for why pairs of people are not conscious: pairs of (...)
  18. The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism.Jonathan J. Loose, Angus John Louis Menuge & J. P. Moreland - 2018 - Oxford, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.
  19. Was Heisst "Sich Vorstellen, Eine Andere Person zu Sein"?Tammo Lossau - 2014 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 90 (1):307-316.
    Talking about “being another person”, many different things may be meant. I make use of Wollheim’s distinction between three different modes of imagination and invoke four different kinds of possible content of what may be imagined. In effect, I aim at a hopefully complete overview of the possible imaginative projects of “imagining being another person”. I try to keep an eye on the role of numerical identity in each case.
  20. Corporate Essence and Identity in Criminal Law.Mihailis Diamantis - 2018 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (4):955-966.
    How can we know whether we are punishing the same corporation that committed some past crime? Though central to corporate criminal justice, legal theorists and philosophers have yet to address the basic question of how corporate identity persists through time. Simple cases, where crime and punishment are close in time and the corporation has changed little, can mislead us into thinking an answer is always easy to come by. The issue becomes more complicated when corporate criminals undergo any number of (...)
  21. Ignoramus et ignorabimus? Rezension zu: Volker Schürmann, Die Unergründlichkeit des Lebens. Lebens-Politik zwischen Biomacht und Kulturkritik. [REVIEW]Guido K. Tamponi - 2012 - Internationales Jahrbuch für Philosophische Anthropologie 3 (1):349-356.
  22. Against Cognitivism About Personhood.Nils-Frederic Wagner - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-30.
    The present paper unravels ontological and normative conditions of personhood for the purpose of critiquing ‘Cognitivist Views’. Such views have attracted much attention and affirmation by presenting the ontology of personhood in terms of higher-order cognition on the basis of which normative practices are explained and justified. However, these normative conditions are invoked to establish the alleged ontology in the first place. When we want to know what kind of entity has full moral status, it is tempting to establish an (...)
  23. What Is the Essence of an Essence? Comparing Afro-Relational and Western-Individualist Ontologies.Thaddeus Metz - 2018 - Synthesis Philosophica 65 (1):209-224.
    The dominant view amongst contemporary Western philosophers about the essence of a natu­ ral object is that it is constituted by its intrinsic properties. The ontological approach salient in the African philosophical tradition, in contrast, accounts for a thing’s essence by appeal to its relational properties. The Afro­relational ontology is under­developed, with the primary aim of this article being to help rectify that weakness. Specifically, this article’s aims are: to articulate an African approach to understanding the essence of a concrete, (...)
  24. Defending Hume’s Theory of Personal Identity and Discarding the Appendix.Lasse Nielsen - 2016 - Ostium 12 (2).
    Since his contribution to the field of personal identity in 1738 Hume’s theory has been debated thoroughly. Throughout the years there have been multiple critiques of Hume’s theory, but despite the fact that all of these generally appear unsatisfactory, Hume’s theory of personal identity is far from being a popular one in the field. I believe the blame partly falls on Hume himself. Hume’s appendix to Treaties is most often read as expressing a deep concern regarding his own theory, and (...)
  25. John Macmurry's Religious Philosophy: What It Means to Be a Person.Esther Mcintosh - 2011 - Farnham, UK: Ashgate.
    Recent dissatisfaction with individualism and the problems of religious pluralism make this an opportune time to reassess the way in which we define ourselves and conduct our relationships with others. The philosophical writings of John Macmurray are a useful resource for performing this examination, and recent interest in Macmurray's work has been growing steadily. -/- A full-scale critical examination of Macmurray's religious philosophy has not been published and this work fills this gap, sharing his insistence that we define ourselves through (...)
  26. How to Formulate the Problem of Personal Identity.Kenneth Hochstetter - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (8):2125-2136.
    Eric Olson and Ned Markosian have, independently, complained that the ways in which the problem of personal identity has been formulated rule out certain views of personal identity just by how the problem is formulated. As a result, both have proposed alternative formulations, each attempting theory neutrality. They have not succeeded, however, since both of their formulations, as well as the formulations that they have rejected, are biased against presentist solutions to the problem, and some are biased against four-dimensionalist solutions, (...)
  27. Identity and Self-Knowledge.John Perry - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (5).
    Self, person, and identity are among the concepts most central to the way humans think about themselves and others. It is often natural in biology to use such concepts; it seems sensible to say, for example, that the job of the immune system is to attack the non-self, but sometimes it attacks the self. But does it make sense to borrow these concepts? Don’t they only pertain to persons, beings with sophisticated minds, and perhaps even souls? I argue that if (...)
  28. Personal Identity and Cosmopolitan Philosophy.Christian Coseru - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (7):1749-1760.
    Jonardon Ganeri’s The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance is a trailblazing study in cross-cultural philosophy of mind. Its liberal conception of naturalism makes room for a rich analytic taxonomy of conceptions of personal identity that go well beyond the standard models of Cartesianism, Physicalism, and Reductionism. But this naturalistically respectable model of the self must contend with the fact that the findings of the cognitive sciences are also compatible with ontological antirealism about the self. And while the book (...)
  29. Tautologia, metautologia i ekumenia u Parmenidesa z Elei.Michał Marcin Janocha - 2017 - Janocha Michał.
    W tej pracy pytamy: czy „mówić-myśleć-być” jest u Parmenidesa tym samym co „to samo-myśleć-być”? Odniesiemy się krytycznie do interpretacji przyjmowanej przez niektórych autorów. Na marginesie będziemy się starali ująć problemy tożsamości, ekumenizmu, kenozy, utraty wiary przez Jezusa. Ta praca może się przyczynić do krytyki pojęcia tożsamości u Hegla, gdyż pokazujemy w nim rozstrzępienie myślenia i bycia i jedności u Platona oraz w Piśmie Świętym jako płaszczyznę bez myślenia i bez bycia, płaszczyznę, która może uzgodnić np. buddyzm z chrześcijaństwem. Ten artykuł (...)
  30. Giovanni Gentile and the State of Contemporary Constructivism: A Study of Actual Idealist Moral Theory.James Wakefield - 2015 - Imprint Academic.
    Recent moral philosophers have had little to say about Giovanni Gentile's 'actual idealism’, which is widely dismissed as a kind of obscurantist Hegelianism used to conceal flimsy justifications for the state’s total impunity over questions of morality and truth. While Gentile is increasingly recognised as a major figure in twentieth-century Italian culture, actual idealism itself has yet to be given a full and impartial philosophical appraisal. Giovanni Gentile and the State of Contemporary Constructivism represents the first book-length treatment of actual (...)
  31. Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism.John Finnis, Joseph M. Boyle & Germain Grisez - 1988 - The Personalist Forum 4 (1):44-46.
  32. Moral Paradoxes of Nuclear Deterrence.Gregory S. Kavka - 1988 - The Personalist Forum 4 (1):39-41.
  33. Technics and Praxis.Don Ihde - 1985 - The Personalist Forum 1 (1):51-55.
  34. The Thread of Life.Richard Wollheim - 1985 - The Personalist Forum 1 (1):55-58.
  35. The Sense of Art: A Study in Aesthetic Education.Ralph A. Smith - 1990 - The Personalist Forum 6 (1):89-91.
  36. No Self to Be Found: The Search for Personal Identity.James Giles - 1997 - The Personalist Forum 13 (2):321-325.
  37. A Philosophical Testament.Marjorie Grene - 1997 - The Personalist Forum 13 (2):317-321.
  38. A Subjective Theory of Organism.James A. Diefenbeck - 1997 - The Personalist Forum 13 (2):312-317.
  39. Transforming Experience: John Dewey's Cultural Instrumentalism.Michael Eldridge - 1997 - The Personalist Forum 13 (2):338-342.
  40. A Guide to Critical Legal Studies.Mark Kelman - 1988 - The Personalist Forum 4 (2):57-60.
  41. Mutuality: The Vision of Martin Buber.Donald L. Berry - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):65-67.
  42. Earthbound: New Introductory Essays in Environmental Ethics.Tom Regan - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):71-73.
  43. The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan & Mary Midgley - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):67-71.
  44. People, Penguins, and Plastic Trees: Basic Issues in Environmental Ethics.Donald Vandeveer, Christine Pierce & Bryan G. Norton - 1986 - The Personalist Forum 2 (1):73-78.
  45. Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy. [REVIEW]Charles D. Kay - 1987 - The Personalist Forum 3 (1):73-75.
  46. The Bodymind Experience in Japanese Buddhism: A Phenomenological Study of Kukai and Dogen.David Edward Shaner - 1987 - The Personalist Forum 3 (1):75-78.
  47. Why One Hundred Years Is Forever: Hartshorne's Theory of Immortality.Randall E. Auxier - 1998 - The Personalist Forum 14 (2):109-132.
  48. Two Types of Theism: Knowledge of God in the Thought of Paul Tillich and Charles Hartshorne.Edgar A. Towne - 1998 - The Personalist Forum 14 (2):253-255.
  49. The Critique of Pure Modernity: Hegel, Heidegger and After.David Kolb - 1987 - The Personalist Forum 3 (2):161-164.
  50. The Logic of Unity: The Discovery of Zero and Emptiness in Prajnaparamita Thought.Hosaku Matsuo & Kenneth K. Inada - 1987 - The Personalist Forum 3 (2):164-166.
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