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Demarest, Heather, , . Fission May Kill You (But Not for the Reasons You Thought)
2016, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 93, 3.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Shen Pan

Abstract: If a person, A, branches into B and C, then it is widely held that B and C are not identical to one another. Many think that this is because B and C have contradictory properties at the same time. In this paper, I show why this explanation cannot be right. I argue that contradictory properties at times are not necessary for non-identity between descendants, and that contradictory properties at times are not sufficient for non-identity. I also argue that the standard explanation cannot be salvaged by a shift to personal time. Appeals to a lack of continuity, or to the absence of unity of consciousness likewise fail. Rather, B and C are non-identical simply because A branched into B and C. Why branching should be problematic for personal identity remains a deep puzzle though I offer some tentative suggestions.

Comment: Useful for teaching time, time travel, and personal identity.
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Kind, Amy, , . Persons and Personal Identity
2015, Polity.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: As persons, we are importantly different from all other creatures in the universe. But in what, exactly, does this difference consist? What kinds of entities are we, and what makes each of us the same person today that we were yesterday? Could we survive having all of our memories erased and replaced with false ones? What about if our bodies were destroyed and our brains were transplanted into android bodies, or if instead our minds were simply uploaded to computers?

In this engaging and accessible introduction to these important philosophical questions, Amy Kind brings together three different areas of research: the nature of personhood, theories of personal identity over time, and the constitution of self-identity. Surveying the key contemporary theories in the philosophical literature, Kind analyzes and assesses their strengths and weaknesses. As she shows, our intuitions on these issues often pull us in different directions, making it difficult to develop an adequate general theory. Throughout her discussion, Kind seamlessly interweaves a vast array of up-to-date examples drawn from both real life and popular fiction, all of which greatly help to elucidate this central topic in metaphysics.

A perfect text for readers coming to these issues for the first time, Persons and Personal Identity engages with some of the deepest and most important questions about human nature and our place in the world, making it a vital resource for students and researchers alike.

Comment: This book provides excellent discussion of the major theories of personal identity. It could be used as the textbook for a course on personal identity at the undergraduate level, or for a unit on personal identity in an introduction to philosophy course.

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Rudder Baker, Lynne, , . Death and the Afterlife
2005, in William J. Wainwright (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: Monotheistic conceptions of an afterlife raise a philosophical question: In virtue of what is a postmortem person the same person who lived and died? Four standard answers are surveyed and criticized: sameness of soul, sameness of body or brain, sameness of soul-body composite, sameness of memories. The discussion of these answers to the question of personal identity is followed by a development of my own view, the Constitution View. According to the Constitution View, you are a person in virtue of having a first-person perspective, and a postmortem person is you if and only if that person has the same first-person perspective. The Christian doctrine of resurrection has three features: (i) a postmortem person is embodied; (ii) a postmortem person is identical to some premortem person; and (iii) the postmortem person owes existence to a miracle. I show how the Constitution View accommodates these three features.

Comment: Useful for an introductory philosophy of religion course, or a more specialised course on the afterlife. Because of the personal identity aspects here, Rudder Baker’s account could also be applied to reincarnation: does the constitution view work here? Is it harder to maintain personal identity in reincarnation cases than in other cases of surviving our death?

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