On two arguments for the indeterminacy of personal identity

Synthese 95 (2):241-273 (1993)
  Both arguments are based on the breakdown of normal criteria of identity in certain science-fictional circumstances. In one case, normal criteria would support the identity of person A with each of two other persons, B and C; and it is argued that, in the imagined circumstances, A=B and A=C have no truth value. In the other, a series or spectrum of cases is tailored to a sorites argument. At one end of the spectrum, persons A and B are such that A=B is clearly true; at the other end, A and B are such that the identity is clearly false. In between, normal criteria of identity leave the truth or falsehood of A=B undecided, and it is argued that in these circumstances A=B has no truth value.These arguments are to be understood counterfactually. My claim is that, so understood, neither establishes its conclusion. The first involves a pair of counterfactual situations that are equally possible or tied. If A=B and A=C have no truth value, a counterfactual conditional with one of them as consequent and an antecedent that is true in circumstances in which either is true should have no truth value. Intuitively, however, any such counterfactual is false. The second argument can be seen to invite an analogous response. If this is right, however, there is an important disanalogy between this and the classical paradox of the heap. If the disanalogy is only apparent, the argument shows at most that the existence of persons can be indeterminate
Keywords Epistemology  Identity  Indeterminacy  Language  Semantics  Parfit, D
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF01064590
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 29,511
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Sameness and Substance.David Wiggins - 1980 - Harvard University Press.
Personal Identity.Derek Parfit - 1971 - Philosophical Review 80 (January):3-27.
Methods of Logic.W. V. Quine - 1950 - Harvard University Press.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Animalism, Dicephalus, and Borderline Cases.Stephan Blatti - 2007 - Philosophical Psychology 20 (5):595-608.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Personal Identity and Rationality.Derek Parfit - 1982 - Synthese 53 (2):227-241.
Reductionism About Persons; and What Matters.Timothy Chappell - 1998 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 98 (1):41-58.
The Concept of Personal Identity.Steven Rieber - 1998 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (3):581-594.
The Indeterminacy and Insignificance of Personal Identity.Ingmar Persson - 1992 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 35 (2):271 – 283.
Endurance, Psychological Continuity, and the Importance of Personal Identity.Trenton Merricks - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (4):983-997.
Trivial Personal Differences.Tove Finnestad - 2001 - Philosophical Papers 30 (1):41-55.
Utilitarianism and Personal Identity.David W. Shoemaker - 1999 - Journal of Value Inquiry 33 (2):183-199.
Parfit on What Matters in Survival.Anthony L. Brueckner - 1993 - Philosophical Studies 70 (1):1-22.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
98 ( #53,073 of 2,180,707 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #301,383 of 2,180,707 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums