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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 1978, Perry 1975, and Olson 2002.
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  1. The Social Ontology of Personhood: A Recognition-Theoretical Account (Co-Authored Monograph).Heikki Ikäheimo, Arto Laitinen, Michael Quante & Italo Testa - manuscript
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  2. Введение в структурно-онтологическую методологию: анализ предметной области социализации личности (Introduction to Structural-Ontological Methodology: Analysis of the Subject Matter Field of Personality Socialization).Vitalii Shymko - 2020 - SSRN Electronic Journal.
    Russian Abstract: Данный документ является сборником «заметок на полях», раскрывающих состав и содержание метода структурно-онтологического анализа. Указанный метод разработан для системного описания предметной области изучаемых явлений. Он включает специальную процедуру по построению структурно-онтологических матриц и алгоритм их описания. Междисциплинарная направленность метода продемонстрирована на примере анализа процесса социализации личности. English Abstract: This document is a collection of `marginal notes` revealing the composition and content of the structural ontological analysis method. The specified method is developed for a systemic description of the subject (...)
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  3. Antropologia pragmatista. Padova Lectures.Michael Quante & Armando Manchisi (eds.) - 2020 - Padova PD, Italia: Padova University Press.
    What does it mean to be a person? And in what way is this connected to our finitude, i.e. to the properly human aspect of our existence? By analyzing some of the core features of our form of life (personal identity, self-consciousness, freedom, autonomy, responsibility), Michael Quante answers these questions arguing that it is possible to be a person and lead an authentically human life only within social relationships of recognition: only in these relationships, it is possible to know oneself (...)
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  4. What Is the Essence of an Essence? Comparing Afro-Relational and Western-Individualist Ontologies (Repr.).Thaddeus Metz - forthcoming - In Adeshina Afolayan, Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso & Samuel Ojo Oloruntoba (eds.), Pathways to Alternative Epistemologies in Africa. Springer.
    Reprint of an article that first appeared in the journal Synthesis Philosophica (2018).
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  5. The Abyss of Freedom: Love and Legitimacy in Constant’s Adolphe.Joshua Landy - 2009 - Nineteenth Century French Studies 3 (37):193-213.
    Despite its superficial similarities with Rousseau's Confessions, Constant's Adolphe functions in fact as a devastating critique from within of the entire autobiographical project. Proceeding from the threefold assumption that the soul is irremediably divided, self-opaque, and untranslatable into language, it interrogates the very feasibility of autobiography, implicitly presenting its protagonist's maxims (which only appear to be the fruits of experience altruistically shared) and his claim never to have loved (which only appears to be brutally honest, but is a curious act (...)
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  6. Persons, Reasons, and What Matters: The Philosophy of Derek Parfit.Fabio Patrone - 2019 - Argumenta 1 (5):9-10.
    Derek Parfit played a crucial role in the XX century philosophical debate. His masterpiece, Reasons and Persons, has been highly influential both in moral philosophy, and personal identity. It is hard to overlook the fact that Parfit’s ideas gave the main contribution to the contemporary philosophy of persons. He reformulates a debate stuck in the classical contraposition between psychological and physical criteria of personal identity, by introducing his most famous idea: identity doesn’t matter in survival. This thesis, and its moral (...)
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  7. Um Embrião não é um Indivíduo.Danilo Fraga Dantas - 2019 - Dissertatio 49:133-145.
    Um argumento recorrente contra a liberalização do aborto parte do pressuposto de que, desde o momento da fertilização, seres humanos são indivíduos (no sentido de serem algo que necessariamente ocorre em uma entidade apenas). Nesse artigo, argumento que esse não é um caso a partir da possibilidade de geminação monozigótica e do fato de identidades serem necessárias. Defendo as premissas do argumento e discuto as possíveis interpretações de sua conclusão. Argumento que a interpretação completa da conclusão desse argumento está em (...)
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  8. Putnam's Naturalism and Realism Extended to Social Systems and Nonclassical Mereology.James Goetz - manuscript
    Putnam proposed liberal naturalism and metaphysical realism that extends to normative judgments and coheres with the principle of bivalence. This paper extends Putnam's naturalism and realism to a model of social systems ranging from jawless vertebrates to legal systems while the systems exhibit nonclassical mereology. The model defines types of entities and material, and focuses on natural interactions that cause organization, the dynamics of scientific entities, and the composition of social groups which includes communication and the emergence of synergy.
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  9. Is Brain Death Death?Lukas J. Meier - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
    For hundreds of years, death had been defined by cardiopulmonary criteria. When heart and respiratory functions were permanently absent, doctors declared their patients dead. Three developments in intensive care medicine called into question these widely-accepted criteria, however: the advent of positive pressure ventilation and the promotion of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, both in the early 1950s, and the first successful heart transplantation in 1967. What had previously been diagnosed as the permanent absence of vital functions, suddenly became reversible. Not only could doctors (...)
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  10. What Is the Essence of an Essence? Comparing Afro-Relational and Western-Individualist Ontologies (Repr.).Thaddeus Metz - forthcoming - In Jonathan O. Chimakonam & Monique Whitaker (eds.), Contemporary Language, Logic, and Metaphysics: African and Western Approaches (tentative title).
    Reprint of an article that first appeared in Synthesis Philosophica (2018).
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  11. The Cognition of the Human Individual in the Mature Thought of Edith Stein.Robert McNamara - 2018 - Philosophical News 1 (16).
    Throughout her entire philosophical corpus Edith Stein shows a concerted effort to reach a comprehensive understanding of the human being as individual. In this paper, I examine the question of how knowledge of the being-individual and qualitative individuality of the human being is attained, as it is found presented by Stein in her most mature philosophical work, Endliches und ewiges Sein. After briefly considering Stein’s understanding of consciousness and intentionality, I detail Stein’s own investigation of the manner the human being (...)
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  12. The Problem of Spontaneous Abortion: Is the Pro-Life Position Morally Monstrous?Bruce P. Blackshaw & Daniel Rodger - 2019 - The New Bioethics 25 (2):103-120.
    A substantial proportion of human embryos spontaneously abort soon after conception, and ethicists have argued this is problematic for the pro-life view that a human embryo has the same moral status as an adult from conception. Firstly, if human embryos are our moral equals, this entails spontaneous abortion is one of humanity’s most important problems, and it is claimed this is absurd, and a reductio of the moral status claim. Secondly, it is claimed that pro-life advocates do not act as (...)
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  13. Against Cognitivism About Personhood.Nils-Frederic Wagner - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (3):657-686.
    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 (...)
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  14. Stage Theory and the Personite Problem.Alex Kaiserman - 2019 - Analysis 79 (2):215-222.
    Mark Johnston has recently argued that four-dimensionalist theories of persistence are incompatible with some of our most basic ethical and prudential principles. I argue that although Johnston’s arguments succeed on a worm-theoretic account of persistence, they fail on a stage-theoretic account. So much the worse, I conclude, for the worm theory.
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  15. The Sense of Art. [REVIEW]Peggy Zeglin Brand - 1990 - The Personalist Forum 6 (1):89-91.
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  16. Plotinus on the Unity and Identity of Changing Particulars.Pauliina Remes - 2005 - In David Sedley (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy Xxviii: Summer 2005. Oxford University Press.
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  17. 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 (...)
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  18. 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 è (...)
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  19. Michael Quante, Person (Grundthemen Philosophie). [REVIEW]Anne Sophie Meincke - 2009 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 116:221-225.
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  20. Cordula Brand, Personale Identität oder menschliche Persistenz? Ein naturalistisches Kriterium. [REVIEW]Anne Sophie Meincke - 2012 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 119:418-424.
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  21. 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.
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  22. 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.
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  23. 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 (...)
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  24. 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 (...)
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  25. 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 (...)
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  26. 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.
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  27. 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, (...)
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  28. Being (with) Objects.Anna E. Mudde - 2017 - In Marie-Eve Morin (ed.), Continental Realism and its Discontents. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    In this paper, I explore some of the ambivalent potential of Graham Harman’s post-humanist object-oriented ontology for thinking about human beings as objects, and for how to be with human beings as objects. In particular, I consider the work of feminist phenomenologists attuned to objectification as both having a tradition of object-orientation and as already contesting the idealism that Harman opposes. Objectified human beings inhabit a site of ontological duality, often knowing themselves as objects for others, who thus experience the (...)
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  29. 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.
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  30. 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.
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  31. Art and Selfhood: A Kierkegaardian Account.Antony Aumann - 2019 - Lanham, MD 20706, USA: Lexington Books.
    Drawing on insights from Søren Kierkegaard, Art and Selfhood: A Kierkegaardian Account defends the idea that art matters in our society today because it can play a pivotal role in helping us become better and more authentic versions of ourselves.
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  32. 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 (...)
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  33. 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.
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  34. 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.
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  35. 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 (...)
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  36. The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism.Jonathan J. Loose, Angus John Louis Menuge & J. P. Moreland - 2018 - Oxford, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.
  37. Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons: An Introduction and Critical Inquiry.Andrea Sauchelli (ed.) - 2020 - Routledge.
    Derek Parfit (1942–2017) is widely considered to be one of the most important moral philosophers of the twentieth century. Reasons and Persons is arguably the most influential of the two books published in his lifetime and hailed as a classic work of ethics and personal identity. Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons: An Introduction and Critical Inquiry is an outstanding introduction to and assessment of Parfit’s book, with chapters by leading scholars of ethics, metaphysics and of Parfit’s work. Part I provides (...)
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  38. 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.
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  39. 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 (...)
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  40. 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.
  41. The Human Community. Baker Brownell.Keith McGary - 1953 - Philosophy of Science 20 (1):82-82.
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  42. Personal Relationships: Love, Identity, and Morality.Hugh LaFollette - 1995 - Wiley Blackwell.
    This volume is a philosophical introduction and exploration of the nature and value of personal relationships. It is an ideal text for introductory philosophy, ethics, or applied ethics courses.
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  43. An Alternative to Brain Death.Jeff McMahan - 2006 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 34 (1):44-48.
    This article criticizes a range of assumptions that proponents of brain death usually share. It argues that one of the main contentions made in defense of brain death – that the brain is necessary for integrated functioning in a human organism – is mistaken. It then sketches an alternative account of human death that distinguishes between the biological death of a human organism and the death or ceasing to exist of a person.
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  44. 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, (...)
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  45. 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 (...)
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  46. 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 (...)
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  47. 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, (...)
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  48. 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 (...)
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  49. 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 (...)
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  50. 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 (...)
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