Psychological Continuity: A Discussion of Marc Slors’s Account, Traumatic Experience, and the Significance of Our Relations to Others
Journal of Philosophical Research 39:101-125 (2014)
AbstractThis paper addresses a question concerning psychological continuity, i.e., which features preserve the same psychological subject over time; this is not the same question as the one concerning the necessary and sufficient conditions for personal identity. Marc Slors defends an account of psychological continuity that adds two features to Derek Parfit’s Relation R, namely narrativity and embodiment. Slors’s account is a significant improvement on Parfit’s, but still lacks an explicit acknowledgment of a third feature that I call relationality. Because they are usually regarded as cases of radical discontinuity, I start my discussion from the experiences of psychological disruption undergone by victims of severe violence and trauma. As it turns out, the challenges we encounter in granting continuity to the experiences of violence and trauma victims are germane to those we encounter in granting continuity to the experiences of subjects in non-traumatic contexts. What is missing in the most popular accounts of psychological continuity is an explicit acknowledgment of the links that tie our psychological lives to other subjects. A more persuasive notion of psychological continuity is not only embodied and narrative, as is Slors’s notion, but also explicitly relational
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