Literally Like a Different Person: Context and Concern in Personal Identity

Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (4):387-404 (2015)

James DiGiovanna
State University of New York, Stony Brook
It is not the case that there is only one literal sense of “same person.” When presented in different contexts, “she is/is not the same person” can have different answers concerning the same entity or set of entities across the same period of time. This is because: Persons are composed of many parts, and different parts have different persistence conditions. This follows from a reductionist view of the self. When we ask about sameness of persons, or “personal identity,” we are asking because of certain practical concerns. Different concerns will look to the persistence of different parts of the person for criteria of sameness. No single criterion of sameness tracks all concerns. By combining reductionism with contextualism, the disparate answers to the personal identity question can be clarified without losing the practical concerns motivating them
Keywords Personal identity  reductionism  contextualism
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DOI 10.1111/sjp.12155
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