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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. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. Moral Responsibility, System of Value and Personal Identity. [REVIEW]Zhaohui Wen - manuscript
    [Review of Alfred R. Mele, "Manipulated Agents: A Window to Moral Responsibility", Oxford University Press, 2019, 192pp., $65.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190927967] 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 (...)
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  8. 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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  9. Hume on the Self and Personal Identity.Dan O'Brien (ed.) - forthcoming - Palgrave.
  10. 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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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. Personal Identity, Possible Worlds, and Medical Ethics.Nils-Frederic Wagner - forthcoming - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy.
    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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. 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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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. 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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  25. Functionalism and Personal Identity – The Case of Mr. Jones.Gunnar Karlsen & Anne Granberg - forthcoming - Pro-Fil:23.
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  26. 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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  27. Locke on Persons and Personal Identity.Margaret Atherton - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-1.
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  28. 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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  29. Who cares if we’re not fully real? Comments on Kris McDaniel’s The Fragmentation of Being.Matti Eklund - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-10.
    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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  30. Deepfakes, Deep Harms.Regina Rini & Leah Cohen - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    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, virtual domination, that occurs when deepfaked ‘frankenporn’ digitally fuses the parts of (...)
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  31. Mechanism for Life After Death V. 2.0.Paul Merriam - manuscript
  32. 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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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. Individuality in Early Modern Philosophy.Oliver Istvan Toth - unknown
  38. 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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  39. Reincarnation and Personal Identity.K. Codell Carter - 1977 - Second Order: An African Journal of Philosophy  6 (1):55-63.
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  40. 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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  41. The Narrative Self is Constituted by Attributing Responsibility.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    A self is a temporal unity in which responsibility for past commitments modifies how the present world is experienced and evaluated. This structure is analogous (a) to biological evolutionary changes in perception and (b) to how changes in a computer program determine how it will respond in the future. Responsibility is not an add-on to a self, but the mode of its integration over time. (Presented at Royal Institute of Philosophy Annual Conference, Narrative and Understanding Persons, University of Hertfordshire, UK, (...)
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  42. Attributing Responsibility to the Narrative Self.David L. Thompson - manuscript
    The self is not a metaphysical object but a mode of temporal organization unified by responsibility. Learning to be responsible constitutes the self as a self-identical entity over time. Responsibility depends on the current self interpreting previous events, attributing them to itself and thereby committing itself for the future. (2004) .
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  43. Plotinus on Immortality and the Problem of Personal Identity.Lloyd P. Gerson - 2021 - In Immortality in Ancient Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 178-195.
    At first glance, Plotinus’ arguments for the immortality of the human soul, principally in Ennead IV 7 (2), constitute a straightforward defense of Plato against Peripatetic and Stoic attacks. And yet, his close reading of his predecessors, especially Aristotle and Alexander of Aphrodisias, led him to confront the following deep problem. The best arguments for immortality rest upon the immateriality of intellect and hence its immunity from destruction along with the body. But, following Aristotle, Plotinus maintains that the nature of (...)
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  44. Acting and the Self.Sara Bizarro - 2014 - In Alexander Gerner & Jorge Gonçalves (eds.), Altered Self and Altered Self-Experience. pp. 59-73.
    In this paper, Douglas Hofstadter’s view of the self as a “strange loop” is used in order to understand how several acting techniques work. As examples of acting techniques I will use the work of Lee Strasberg, Constantin Stanislavski, Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner. I will argue that Douglas Hofstadter’s view of the self as a strange loop allows us to understand how acting works. I will furthermore argue that because Douglas Hofstadter’s view is successful in explaining how different acting (...)
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  45. Animalism is Either False of Uninteresting (Perhaps Both).Matt Duncan - 2021 - American Philosophical Quarterly 58 (2):187-200.
    “We are animals.” That’s what animalists say—that’s their slogan. But what animalists mean by their slogan varies. Many animalists are adamant that what they mean—and, indeed, what the true animalist thesis is—is that we are identical to animals (human animals, to be precise). But others say that’s not enough. They say that the animalist thesis has to be something more—perhaps that we are essentially or most fundamentally human animals. This paper argues that, depending on how we understand it, animalism is (...)
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  46. Narrative Explanations of Action. Narrative Identity with Minimal Requirements.Deniz A. Kaya - 2021 - Journal of Value Inquiry:1-17.
    In On Not Expecting Too Much from Narrative, Lamarque (2004) challenges theories of narrative identity. For while narrativity might tell us something of interest about our selves, the requirements for this would be so strong that theories of narrative identity would not be able to meet them. In contrast, he identifies minimal conditions for narrativity, so that our identity could be of a narrative nature as well. But in that case, the concept of narrativity would be so weak that it (...)
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  47. Experimental Philosophical Bioethics of Personal Identity.Brian D. Earp, Jonathan Lewis, J. Skorburg, Ivar Hannikainen & Jim A. C. Everett - 2022 - In Kevin P. Tobia (ed.), Experimental Philosophy of Identity and the Self. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 183-202.
    The question of what makes someone the same person through time and change has long been a preoccupation of philosophers. In recent years, the question of what makes ordinary or lay people judge that someone is—or isn’t—the same person has caught the interest of experimental psychologists. These latter, empirically oriented researchers have sought to understand the cognitive processes and eliciting factors that shape ordinary people’s judgments about personal identity and the self. Still more recently, practitioners within an emerging discipline, experimental (...)
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  48. Forgetting Oneself or Personal Identity in Relation to Time and Otherness in the Zhuangzi.Youru Wang - forthcoming - Tandf: Asian Philosophy:1-21.
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  49. Development of Personal Identity Among Sami Adolescents Living in the Arctic Territories of Russia.Natalia Flotskaya, Irina Aryabkina, Svetlana Bulanova, Maria Ponomareva & Nikolay Flotskiy - 2021 - Wisdom 19 (3):84-99.
    The article is devoted to the problem of studying the personal identity of Sami adolescents living in the Arctic territories of Russia. The study aims to study the characteristics of the personal identity of Sami boys and Sami girls in adolescence. The article presents the results of an empirical study carried out according to the methodology developed based on the test “Who am I?” developed by Kuhn and McPartland. The respondents were 39 Sami adolescents aged 12-13 years and 40 Sami (...)
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  50. Survivalism, Suitably Modified.James Dominic Rooney - 2021 - The Thomist 85 (3):349-376.
    A well-known problem seems to beset views on which humans are essentially material, but where I can survive my death: they seem incoherent or reducible to substance dualism. Thomas Aquinas held a unique hylomorphic view of the human person as essentially composed of body and soul, but where the human soul can survive the death of the body. ‘Survivalists’ have argued that, post mortem, a human person comes to be composed of their soul alone. ‘Corruptionists’ point to Thomas’ texts, where (...)
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