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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 1977, Perry 1975, and Olson 2002.
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  1. Locke on Persons and Personal Identity by Ruth Boeker. [REVIEW]Michael Jacovides - 2022 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 60 (4):697-698.
    According to Ruth Boeker, her account is unusual in "distinguishing Locke's account of personhood from his account of personal identity," which allows her to make sense of "both his claim that 'person' is a forensic term and his claim that personal identity consists in the same consciousness". In her emphasis on the connection between personhood and responsibility, Boeker's position is like the one advanced in Galen Strawson's recent book, but where Strawson emphasizes the connection between personality and responsibility in this (...)
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  2. Sobre a identidade pessoal estendida e o status de pessoas dos ciborgues naturais: Uma análise a partir do caso extremo dos portadores de Alzheimer.Ronaldo de Oliveira Ramos - 2020 - Dissertation, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso (UFMT)
    Based on questions about herself, the character Motoko, in the film Ghost in the Shell, wonders about her continuity over time and her human condition and as a person. Similarly, it is possible to entertain some scenarios in which the addition of elements external to the body produces a similar tension with respect to human persons. One of these scenarios is that of natural cyborgs, as understood by Andy Clark. Based on the notion of natural cyborgs, through the coupling of (...)
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  3. Who cares if we’re not fully real? Comments on Kris McDaniel’s The Fragmentation of Being.Matti Eklund - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (10):3141-3150.
    In part of The Fragmentation of Being, Kris McDaniel discusses the possibility that we—persons—are not fully real, and the normative upshot of this. The broader metaphysical context is a view on which different things have different degrees of being and what is discussed is the possibility that persons do not have the maximal degree of being. McDaniel thinks that this has a problematic normative upshot: we would not matter. I do not agree. Here I go through some reasons for thinking (...)
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  4. A Fragmented Unity: A Narrative Answer to the Problem of the Unity of the Self in Hume.Lorenzo Greco - 2022 - In Dan O'Brien (ed.), Hume on the Self and Personal Identity. London: pp. 201-22.
  5. Fine-Tuning Human Rights for Spiritual Well-Being.Deepa Kansra - 2022 - Psychology Today.
    There are many reasons to suggest that human rights have a spiritual flavor. Grounded in the understanding that individuals and communities have spiritual interests, the idea of human rights has been called upon time and again to protect and provide for them. This development has raised questions about what spiritual interests are and what role human rights can play in this regard. On a cursory glance, linking human rights to spirituality benefits three right-holders: individuals, communities, and humanity as a whole. (...)
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  6. Personal Identity, Possible Worlds, and Medical Ethics.Nils-Frederic Wagner - 2022 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 25 (3):429-437.
    Thought experiments that concoct bizarre possible world modalities are standard fare in debates on personal identity. Appealing to intuitions raised by such evocations is often taken to settle differences between conflicting theoretical views that, albeit, have practical implications for ethical controversies of personal identity in health care. Employing thought experiments that way is inadequate, I argue, since personhood is intrinsically linked to constraining facts about the actual world. I defend a moderate modal skepticism according to which intuiting across conceptually incongruent (...)
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  7. Towards an Animalist Conception of Personal Identity.Keith Hess - 2017 - Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara
    In this dissertation, I defend an answer to the following question in the diachronic personal identity debate: what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for our persistence over time? Two popular approaches to answering this question are the psychological and the somatic approach. On the former approach, we persist in virtue of some sort of psychological continuity. So, some proponents of the psychological approach think that we cease to exist if we lose certain features of our psychology such as our (...)
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  8. When Will Survival Researchers Move Past Defending the Indefensible?Keith Augustine - 2022 - Journal of Scientific Exploration 36 (2):412-435.
    The failure of five psychical researchers to confront my critique of Bigelow Institute contest-winning essays with counterpoints or concessions responsive to its novel criticisms is disappointing. Their defensive and scattershot reply lost sight of whether the critiqued essays met their directive to provide "hard evidence 'beyond a reasonable doubt'" of the survival of human consciousness. In the critique I also questioned the scientific validity of seeking ostensible evidence for discarnate personal survival without giving due care to potential evidence against it, (...)
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  9. Sentio Ergo Sum: Professional Philosophy and Personal Identity in the Making of an Enabling Educator.Flavia Santamaria & Ann-Marie Priest - 2021 - Access: Critical Explorations of Equity in Higher Education 8 (2).
    The ethos of enabling educators is central to their work, but there are few accounts of how this ethos develops. This paper uses narrative enquiry to explore the development of one Australian enabling educator’s professional philosophy through her construction of her life experiences and personal identity. Proceeding on the assumption that narrative is the most effective way to examine the richness and complexity of the interrelationship between personal identity and professional philosophy, this paper presents an autobiographical account of an enabling (...)
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  10. Locke on Persons and Personal Identity.Jon W. Thompson - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
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  11. Deepfakes, Deep Harms.Regina Rini & Leah Cohen - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 22 (2).
    Deepfakes are algorithmically modified video and audio recordings that project one person’s appearance on to that of another, creating an apparent recording of an event that never took place. Many scholars and journalists have begun attending to the political risks of deepfake deception. Here we investigate other ways in which deepfakes have the potential to cause deeper harms than have been appreciated. First, we consider a form of objectification that occurs in deepfaked ‘frankenporn’ that digitally fuses the parts of different (...)
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  12. Making Up Our Minds: Imaginative Deconstruction in MathArt, 1920 – Present.Shanna Dobson & Chris Fields - manuscript
    The cognitive sciences tell us that the self is a construct. The visual arts illustrate this fact. Mathematics give it full expression, abstracting the self to a Grothendieck site. This self is a haecceity, an ephemeral this-ness and now-ness. We make up our minds and our histories. That our acts are public, that they communicate effectively, becomes a dialetheic paradox, a deep paradox for our times.
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  13. Far From Heart, Far From Eyes: Empathy, Personal Identity, and Moral Recognition.María del Mar Cabezas Hernández - 2022 - Rhv. An International Journal of Philosophy 19:221-243.
    Do we empathize with the others because first we have recognized them as somehow equals, or do we recognize them as equals because first we have empathized with them? This article explores the relation between affective empathy, the moral recognition of the others, and personal identity. I defend that, to recognize others as valuable and act in line with this, one must be able to feel affective empathy for their situation, and, to do so, one has to 1) be curious (...)
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  14. Hume on the Self and Personal Identity.Dan O'Brien (ed.) - 2022 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    This book brings together a team of international scholars to attempt to understand David Hume’s conception of the self. The standard interpretation is that he holds a no-self view: we are just bundles of conscious experiences, thoughts and emotions. There is nothing deeper to us, no core, no essence, no soul. In the Appendix to A Treatise of Human Nature, though, Hume admits to being dissatisfied with such an account and Part One of this book explores why this might be (...)
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  15. Can Consciousness Be Taken Seriously When It Comes to Personal Identity?Stephen Matthew Duncan - unknown
    Certain contemporary philosophers have thought that the first-person, qualitative aspect of conscious experience should be taken seriously when it comes to our thinking about personal identity through time. These philosophers have thus argued that experiential continuity is essential to a person’s ability to persist identically through time. This is what I will call ‘the phenomenological theory’. In this thesis I describe the phenomenological theory and then discuss three problems that have plagued the history of this theory: the bridge problem, the (...)
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  16. The Morality of Artificial Friends in Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun.Jakob Stenseke - 2022 - Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy 5.
    Can artificial entities be worthy of moral considerations? Can they be artificial moral agents (AMAs), capable of telling the difference between good and evil? In this essay, I explore both questions—i.e., whether and to what extent artificial entities can have a moral status (“the machine question”) and moral agency (“the AMA question”)—in light of Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2021 novel Klara and the Sun. I do so by juxtaposing two prominent approaches to machine morality that are central to the novel: the (1) (...)
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  17. Till Death Do Us Part: The Moral Problems of Personites.Andrew Russo & Martin Montminy - manuscript
    According to the worm theory, persons are (maximal) aggregates of person-stages existing at different times. Personites, on the other hand, are non-maximal aggregates of stages that are nonetheless very much like persons. Their existence appears to make instances of prudential self-sacrifice morally problematic: the personites that exist at the time of the sacrifice but not at the time of the reward seem to be unfairly exploited. Instances of punishment appear to give rise to a similar problem. We argue that these (...)
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  18. Biological Individuality and the Foetus Problem.William Morgan - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    The Problem of Biological Individuality is the problem of how to count organisms. Whilst counting organisms may seem easy, the biological world is full of difficult cases such as colonial siphonophores and aspen tree groves. One of the main solutions to the Problem of Biological Individuality is the Physiological Approach. Drawing on an argument made by Eric Olson in the personal identity debate, I argue that the Physiological Approach faces a metaphysical problem - the ‘Foetus Problem’. This paper illustrates how (...)
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  19. Belief, Unity, and Parts to Whole in the Ontology of Person.Lucian Delescu - 2016 - Studii Franciscane 16:185-196.
    In this paper I continue to explore some of the problems I believe one encounters when attempting to unravel the ontology of person. I maintain my interest for classical philosophical theories which were equally concerned with this matter. I draw upon Hume’s philosophy and Husserl’s phenomenology by indicating their conceptual differences relevant to my current topic, but I adopt a thought-expe-rimental approach. That because, on the one hand, my purpose is not to reconstruct the logic of these philosophers in details, (...)
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  20. Book Review for "Psychopathology and Philosophy of Mind", Edited by Valentina Cardella and Amelia Gangemi. [REVIEW]Juliette Vazard - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.
    By manifesting dysfunctions of fundamental psychological mechanisms such as emotions, reasoning, and language, symptoms of mental disorders can inform us on their nature and functions. In this volume, Valentina Cardella and Amelia Gangemi bring together a collection of articles which draw from psychopathology in order to further our study of the human mind. Contributors include philosophers of mind and language, clinical psychologists, and a historian, all applying their respective methodological tools with the aim of learning from mental disorders about the (...)
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  21. Moral Responsibility, System of Value and Personal Identity: A.R. Mele's "Manipulated Agents," OUP Usa, 2019. [REVIEW]Zhaohui Wen - manuscript
    System of value plays a vital role in Alfred Mele’s DMR, an account of conditions exempting moral responsibility. I argue that one agent’s system of value is grounded in her personal identity, which provides the best explanation of both Mele’s emphasis on system of value and one application of DMR. Then, pacing a concern from Matheson, I point out Mele’s DMR is potentially incoherent, and via this argument I try to push Mele to make his underpinned notion of personal identity (...)
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  22. Far From Heart, Far From Eyes: Empathy, Personal Identity, and Moral Recognition.María del Mar Cabezas Hernández - 2022 - Revista de Humanidades de Valparaíso 19:221-243.
    Do we empathize with the others because first we have recognized them as somehow equals, or do we recognize them as equals because first we have empathized with them? This article explores the relation between affective empathy, the moral recognition of the others, and personal identity. I defend that, to recognize others as valuable and act in line with this, one must be able to feel affective empathy for their situation, and, to do so, one has to 1) be curious (...)
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  23. Narrative and Personal Identity.Mark Schroeder - 2022 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 96 (1):209-226.
    In this paper I explore how and why personal identity might be essentially narrative in nature. My topic is the question of personal identity in the strict sense of identity—the question of which person you are, and how that person is extended in space, time, and quality. In this my question appears to contrast with the question of personal identity in the sense sought by teenagers and sufferers of mid-life crises who are trying to ‘find themselves’. But in fact it (...)
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  24. Space, Time, and Quality: A Response to ‘Narrative and Personal Identity’.Marya Schechtman - 2022 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 96 (1):227-244.
    In ‘Narrative and Personal Identity’, Mark Schroeder defends an important and exciting account of personal identity. This account starts from insights he finds in Locke and Frankfurt, but moves beyond them in ways that complicate and improve their respective notions of personhood and agency. I argue that he nonetheless retains too much from the views he rejects, especially an undue emphasis on the role of agency in personal identity and an impoverished picture of our embodiment. This paper explains the ways (...)
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  25. Distributed Identity.Phillip Barron - 2022 - Dissertation, University of Connecticut
    This dissertation offers and defends a phenomenological account of personal identity. It does so critically in conversation with Anglo-analytical traditions and varieties of other philosophical traditions from around the world, especially Zen Buddhism. Chapter One brings together three areas of philosophy: the multiple realizability thesis from philosophy of science, the logical pluralist position from philosophical logic, and the various conceptions of personhood from metaphysics. I argue that even though the divide in the literature on the metaphysics of personal identity is (...)
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  26. Personal Identity, Possible Worlds, and Medical Ethics.Nils-Frederic Wagner - 2022 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy: A European Journal.
    Thought experiments that concoct bizarre possible world modalities are standard fare in debates on personal identity. Appealing to intuitions raised by such evocations is often taken to settle differences between conflicting theoretical views that, albeit, have practical implications for ethical controversies of personal identity in health care. Employing thought experiments that way is inadequate, I argue, since personhood is intrinsically linked to constraining facts about the actual world. I defend a moderate modal skepticism according to which intuiting across conceptually incongruent (...)
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  27. Pattern Theory of Self and Situating Moral Aspects: The Need to Include Authenticity, Autonomy and Responsibility in Understanding the Effects of Deep Brain Stimulation.Przemysław Zawadzki - 2022 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 21 (3):559-582.
    The aims of this paper are to: identify the best framework for comprehending multidimensional impact of deep brain stimulation on the self; identify weaknesses of this framework; propose refinements to it; in pursuing, show why and how this framework should be extended with additional moral aspects and demonstrate their interrelations; define how moral aspects relate to the framework; show the potential consequences of including moral aspects on evaluating DBS’s impact on patients’ selves. Regarding, I argue that the pattern theory of (...)
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  28. Centred Worlds, Personal Identity and Imagination.Andrea Sauchelli - forthcoming - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 1.
    The Centred View offers an account of the connection between imagination and possibility that combines the centred world framework with some allegedly appealing intuitions regarding our persistence over time. In particular, Dilip Ninan suggests that the Centred View has the theoretical advantage of respecting our intuitions about cases of personal identity in certain imaginative scenarios while also being compatible with physicalism. Unfortunately, the Centred View faces a series of serious objections and should ultimately be rejected.
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  29. Conventionalising Rebirth: Buddhist Agnosticism and the Doctrine of Two Truths.Bronwyn Finnigan - forthcoming - In Yujin Nagasawa & Mohammad Saleh Zarepour (eds.), Global Dialogues in the Philosophy of Religion: from Religious Experience to the Afterlife. Oxford University Press.
    What should the Buddhist attitude be to rebirth if one accepts that it is inconsistent with current science? This chapter critically engages forms of Buddhist agnosticism that adopt a position of uncertainty about rebirth but nevertheless recommend ‘behaving as if’ it were true. What does it mean to behave as if rebirth were true, and are Buddhist agnostics justified in adopting this position? This chapter engages this question in dialogue with Mark Siderits’ reductionist analysis of the Buddhist doctrine of the (...)
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  30. Heads, Bodies, Brains, and Selves: Personal Identity and the Ethics of Whole-Body Transplantation.Ana Iltis - 2022 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 47 (2):257-278.
    Plans to attempt what has been called a head transplant, a body transplant, and a head-to-body transplant in human beings raise numerous ethical, social, and legal questions, including the circumstances, if any, under which it would be ethically permissible to attempt whole-body transplantation in human beings, the possible effect of WBT on family relationships, and how families should shape WBT decisions. Our assessment of many of these questions depends partially on how we respond to sometimes centuries-old philosophical thought experiments about (...)
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  31. Whole-Body/Head Transplantation: Personal Identity, Experimental Surgery, and Bioethics.Mark J. Cherry & Ruiping Fan - 2022 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 47 (2):179-188.
    This issue of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy brings together an international group of scholars from Hong Kong, Mainland China, and North America, critically to explore whole-body/head transplantation. The proposed procedure raises significant philosophical, ethical, and social/political questions. For example, assuming transplant is successful, who survives the surgery? Does personal identity necessarily follow the head? The contributors to this special thematic issue explore the nature and ground of personal identity, what it would mean to preserve personal identity, given such (...)
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  32. Can Thought Experiments Solve Problems of Personal Identity?Lukas J. Meier - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-23.
    Good physical experiments conform to the basic methodological standards of experimental design: they are objective, reliable, and valid. But is this also true of thought experiments? Especially problems of personal identity have engendered hypothetical scenarios that are very distant from the actual world. These imagined situations have been conspicuously ineffective at resolving conflicting intuitions and deciding between the different accounts of personal identity. Using prominent examples from the literature, I argue that this is due to many of these thought experiments (...)
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  33. 9 Friendship and Fission: Personal Identity in Derrida and Parfit.Kit Barton - 2021 - In Luke Collison (ed.), Derrida's Politics of Friendship: Amity and Enmity. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 127-136.
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  34. Worm-Theoretic Persistence and Temporal Predication.Andrew Russo - 2022 - Southwest Philosophy Review 38 (1):227-236.
    Mark Johnston (2016, 2017) has raised concerns that a worm-theoretic account of persistence through time is incompatible with ethical singularity: that within the life of any actual person, there is only one morally considerable being, namely that person. To deny ethical singularity is to deny a core feature of our ordinary ethical and prudential thinking. The worm theory, Johnston concludes, proves to be “disastrous … for our ordinary moral outlook”. This paper defends the worm theory from Johnston’s argument. Though I (...)
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  35. The Network Self: Relation, Process, and Personal Identity.Kathleen Wallace - 2019 - Routledge.
    The concept of a relational self has been prominent in feminism, communitarianism, narrative self theories, and social network theories, and has been important to theorizing about practical dimensions of selfhood. However, it has been largely ignored in traditional philosophical theories of personal identity, which have been dominated by psychological and animal theories of the self. This book offers a systematic treatment of the notion of the self as constituted by social, cultural, political, and biological relations. The author's account incorporates practical (...)
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  36. Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychopathy: Personal Identity in Mental Disorder.Christopher Heginbotham - 2000 - Routledge.
    This title was first published in 2000: Personality disorder/Psychopathy has long troubled philosophers, lawyers and mental health practitioners. This book is highly topical in tackling the interface of applied philosophy and psychiatry at a time when government and clinicians are giving careful consideration to new forms of treatment of people with psychopathic disorder. The book brings together contributions from lawyers, philosophers, psychiatrists and clinical managers to explore the inter-related conceptual and political implications of Psychopathy.
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  37. Functionalism and Personal Identity – The Case of Mr. Jones.Gunnar Karlsen & Anne Granberg - forthcoming - Pro-Fil:23.
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  38. Beyond Personal Identity. Dogen, Nishida and a Phenomenology of No-Self. Gereon Kopf.Matteo Cestari - 2002 - Buddhist Studies Review 19 (2):211-215.
    Beyond Personal Identity. Dogen, Nishida and a Phenomenology of No-Self. Gereon Kopf. Curzon Press, Richmond 2001. xx, 298 pp. 40.00. ISBN 0-7007-1217-8.
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  39. Locke on Persons and Personal Identity.Margaret Atherton - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-1.
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  40. Psychological Approaches to Personal Identity: Do Memories and Consciousness Make Us Who We Are?Kristin Seemuth Whaley - 2022 - 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology.
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  41. Mechanism for Life After Death V. 2.0.Paul Merriam - manuscript
  42. Personal Identity as Narrative Identity in Paul Ricoeur.Evelio Salcedo - 2016 - Apuntes Filosóficos 25 (49):117-131.
    Personal identity as narrative identity attempts to analyze the issue of identity from historical accounts and from the narrative fiction, taking into account the link between time, author, reader and narrator. Personal identity is treated as what that man configured through story set in temporary experiences, under the thesis de Paul Ricoeur narrative of itself as another. The itself as another of narrative identity is discovered in a dialectic that involves de connection between events that integrate human permanence time element (...)
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  43. Thought Experiments and Personal Identity in Africa.Simon Beck - 2021 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 7 (4):239-452.
    African perspectives on personhood and personal identity and their relation to those of the West have become far more central in mainstream Western discussion than they once were. Not only are African traditional views with their emphasis on the importance of community and social relations more widely discussed, but that emphasis has also received much wider acceptance and gained more influence among Western philosophers. Despite this convergence, there is at least one striking way in which the discussions remain apart and (...)
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  44. Forgetting Oneself or Personal Identity in Relation to Time and Otherness in the Zhuangzi.Youru Wang - 2021 - Asian Philosophy 32 (1):52-72.
    This article is one of the author’s serial writings to assimilate Ricoeur’s three-fold ethical investigation into various areas of human acts of forgetting, including 1) the therapeutic or patholog...
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  45. 12 A Nonnaturalist Account of Personal Identity.Carol Rovane - 2008 - In Mario De Caro & David Macarthur (eds.), Naturalism in Question. Harvard University Press. pp. 231-258.
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  46. Transhumanism and Personal Identity.James Hughes - 2013 - In The Transhumanist Reader. pp. 227=234.
    Enlightenment values are built around the presumption of an independent rational self, citizen, consumer and pursuer of self-interest. Even the authoritarian and communitarian variants of the Enlightenment presumed the existence of autonomous individuals, simply arguing for greater weight to be given to their collective interests. Since Hume, however, radical Enlightenment empiricists have called into question the existence of a discrete, persistent self. Today neuroscientific reductionism has contributed to the rejection of an essentialist model of personal identity. Contemporary transhumanism has yet (...)
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  47. Individuality in Early Modern Philosophy.Oliver Istvan Toth - 2022 - In Charles T. Wolfe & Dana Jalobeanu (eds.), Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences. Springer.
  48. Ruth Boeker, Locke on Persons and Personal Identity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.Diego Lucci - 2021 - Journal of Early Modern Studies 10 (1):119-122.
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  49. Reincarnation and Personal Identity.K. Codell Carter - 1977 - Second Order: An African Journal of Philosophy  6 (1):55-63.
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  50. The Identity of the Self Over Time is Normative.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    The temporal unity of the self cannot be accounted for by the continuity of causal, factual, or contiguous relations between independently definable mental events, as proposed by Locke and Parfit. The identity of the self over time is normative: it depends on the institutional context of social rules external to the self that determine the relationship between past commitments and current responsibilities. (2005).
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