Me and mine

Philosophical Studies 175 (1):1-22 (2018)
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In this paper we articulate and diagnose a previously unrecognized problem for theories of entitlement, what we call the Claims Conundrum. It applies to all entitlements that are originally generated by some claim-generating action, such as laboring, promising, or contract-signing. The Conundrum is spurred by the very plausible thought that a later claim to the object to which one is entitled is a function of whether that original claim-generating action is attributable to one. This is further assumed to depend on one’s being identical to the person who performed the claim-generating action. But the right theory of personal identity for grounding these later claims proves quite elusive. In demonstrating both the Claims Conundrum and diagnosing its source, we begin with its instantiation in John Locke’s theories of personal identity and initial acquisition, and then we gradually expand its net to include both Lockean and non-Lockean theories of both, moving ultimately to show that this is a problem for most entitlements generally. We then diagnose the source of the trouble, showing that a basic assumption about the link between attributability and identity that most people take to be obvious is in fact false, clearing a path for future investigation into this overlooked but serious problem’s resolution.



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Author Profiles

David Shoemaker
Cornell University
Peter Jaworski
Georgetown University

Citations of this work

Preserving the Normative Significance of Sentience.Leonard Dung - 2024 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 31 (1):8-30.
Personal Identity and Ethics.David Shoemaker - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.

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