Counting subjects

Synthese 162 (3):373 - 384 (2008)
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Abstract

Kolak’s arguments for the thesis ‘there is only one person’ in fact show that the subject-in-itself is not a countable entity. The paper argues for this assertion by comparing Kolak’s concept of the subject with Kant’s notion of the transcendental unity of apperception (TUAP), which is a formal feature of experience and not countable. It also argues the point by contrasting both the subject and the TUAP with the notion of the individual human being or empirical self, which is the main concern standard theories of personal identity such as those of Williams, Parfit and Nozick. Unlike the empirical self, but rather like Kant’s TUAP, the subject-in-itself cannot be counted because it is not an object or substance, despite Kolak’s thesis that there is only one. The paper also maintains that Kolak’s contention that the subject is an entity hinges on a strong and less plausible interpretation of Kant’s transcendental idealism.

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Garrett Thomson
College of Wooster

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References found in this work

Philosophical explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Susan J. Armstrong & Richard George Botzler.
Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - Philosophy 56 (216):267-268.

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