Subjective Theories of Personal Identity and Practical Concerns

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Year of publication 2015
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Organon F
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Field Philosophy and religion
Keywords compensation; identification; numerical identity; personal identity; responsibility; self-constitution; self-interested concern
Description This paper focuses on three theories of personal identity that incorporate the idea that personal identity is the result of a person's adopting certain attitudes towards certain mental states and actions. I call these theories subjective theories of personal identity. I argue that it is not clear what the proponents of these theories mean by "personal identity". On standard theories, such as animalism or psychological theories, the term "personal identity" refers to the numerical identity of persons and its analysis provides the persistence conditions for persons. I argue that if the subjective theories purport to provide a criterion of numerical personal identity, they fail. A different interpretation may suggest that they purport to provide a non-numerical type of identity for the purpose of providing plausible analyses of certain identity-related practical concerns. I argue that the criteria the subjective theories provide fail to capture several of the identity-related concerns. As a result, this interpretation must be rejected as well.
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