The Band of Theseus: Social Individuals and Mental Files

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 47 (4-5):287-310 (2017)
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Abstract

Social individuals are social entities having a distinctive individuality, often signaled by the use of a proper name to designate them. This article proposes an account of social individuals based on the notion of a mental file, understood as a repository of information about a single individual. First, I consider a variant of the puzzle of the ship of Theseus in which the object having problematic identity conditions is a social individual, namely, a rock band. Then, I argue that we can figure out such identity conditions by considering the mental files concerning this band. In conclusion, I outline a version of social constructionism according to which the existence of social individuals like bands depends on mental files about them.

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Enrico Terrone
Università degli Studi di Genova

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