Identity in the loose and popular sense

Mind 97 (388):575-582 (1988)
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This essay interprets Butler’s distinction between identity in the loose and popular sense and in the strict and philosophical sense. Suppose there are different standards for counting the same things. Then what are two distinct things counting strictly may be one and the same thing counting loosely. Within a given standard identity is one-one. But across standards it is many-one. An alternative interpretation using the parts-whole relation fails, because that relation should be understood as many-one identity. Another alternative making identity relative to sort fails, because whole and parts can be of the same sort.

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Donald L. M. Baxter
University of Connecticut

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