File Name: a dialogue on personal identity and immortality .zip
Personal Identity and Ethics
You are a person. Presumably, you used to be a younger person. But, in virtue of what is it the case that you and that younger person are one and the same individual? In other words, how is it that you continue to exist over time? There had better be something that grounds our continued existence, for we make judgments that presume that people continue to exist every day—for instance, when we assign rewards and punishments to them, or moral obligations, or property rights, and so on:.
Maybe our bodies have something to do with our continued existence; as long as my body continues to exist, I continue to exist. But, mere sameness of body over time does not seem to be enough to ground the continued existence of a person. That seems wrong. The human body of your next-door neighbor leads two completely different lives—one during the day, and one at night. If that is correct, then sameness of body is not what grounds sameness of person; for, in that case, it would turn out that Day Man and Night Man were really just one person and not two since they share the same body.
Many people believe that what we are is not something material, but rather something immaterial. They say that each of us has a soul —or rather, is a soul—and that souls are immaterial things that reside in bodies. Maybe our souls ground our continued existence; so long as my soul continues to exist, I continue to exist. But, if that were so, we would have no way of knowing whether or not people continue to exist over time.
Since souls, if they exist , are immaterial, we cannot see or touch or smell them: souls would be completely undetectable by the senses. And yet, it seems that we can know whether or not someone in the present moment is the same person as some earlier one. My friend is merely an immaterial thing, and since I cannot see immaterial things, I have no way of knowing whether or not my friend stands before me.
Furthermore, people who believe in souls typically believe that souls can leave their bodies and go elsewhere for instance, to heaven. But, then, for all we know, when a soul leaves one body it simply inhabits another.
If that happened, then I am Abraham Lincoln—one and the same person, such that I was once the 16 th president of the United States, who wrote the Gettysburg Address and so on—a result that many find counter-intuitive. If Day Man and Night Man are two different people, then it is because they have two different psychologies. If a body in a persistent vegetative state is no longer a person, then it is because that body is no longer conscious. If I am not Abraham Lincoln, despite sharing one and the same immaterial soul, then it is because I cannot remember doing anything that Lincoln did.
For these reasons, we might think that psychology or consciousness is what grounds our continued existence. But, consciousness alone will not do. You cannot both be the pope how could one person be in two places at once? So, psychology alone does not seem to be what grounds identity. Intuitively, the real pope is the man who wakes up in the Vatican. Meanwhile, your body is merely an imposter pope. Might this be because the man in the Vatican has the same body and psychology as the man elected to the papacy, while your body has only his psychology?
This line of reasoning has led to many hybrid proposals. For instance, perhaps you continue to exist over time only so long as your body and your psychology do. On this proposal, survival of only your body e. After all, our bodies are constantly taking in new material as we breathe and eat and drink, and constantly shedding material as we perspire and excrete and exhale or lose our hair and skin our knees.
So, most body-theorists do not actually believe that exact sameness of material is what grounds identity. Rather, it is only bodily continuity that matters. For instance, even though my body is made of slightly different material today than it was yesterday, there is nevertheless some causal continuity between my present body and my former one which binds them together as one and the same.
How do answers here make a difference to psychological theories of personal identity? Locke, John Olson, Eric T. Parfit, Derek Oxford: Basil Blackwell , Perry, John A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. Korfmacher, Carsten. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Download this essay in PDF. He also holds degrees in astrophysics and theology.
He specializes in metaphysics and is also very interested in normative ethics, applied ethics, philosophy of religion, and early modern philosophy. There had better be something that grounds our continued existence, for we make judgments that presume that people continue to exist every day—for instance, when we assign rewards and punishments to them, or moral obligations, or property rights, and so on: The woman presently being punished for some past crime had better be the same person who committed it, or else her punishment is unjust.
If I am obligated to keep a promise, I had better be the one who made it in the first place, or else I have no such obligation. If you presently possess a car, you had better be the one who purchased it, or else you have no legitimate claim to its ownership. The Body Maybe our bodies have something to do with our continued existence; as long as my body continues to exist, I continue to exist.
To illustrate further, imagine this story: The human body of your next-door neighbor leads two completely different lives—one during the day, and one at night. The Soul Many people believe that what we are is not something material, but rather something immaterial. Psychology If Day Man and Night Man are two different people, then it is because they have two different psychologies. References Locke, John For Further Reading Korfmacher, Carsten.
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A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality
The lecture focuses on the question of the metaphysical key to personal identity. What does it mean for a person that presently exists to be the very same person in the future? Difficulties with that approach are then discussed, independent of the question whether souls exist or not. Chapter 1. For those of you who still do believe in the existence of souls, I suppose you could take a great deal of the discussion that follows as some form of large conditional or subjunctive. First, we had to get clear on, what am I?
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Naming, Necessity, and More pp Cite as. Saul Kripke is a phenomenon, nothing less, and the discipline of Philosophy is much the better for his contribution to it. My own intellectual development has benefited immeasurably from my association with Kripke. I begin with a pair of quotes from another great contemporary philosopher. Like Allen, Kripke will live on through his work long after most of the rest of us are forgotten.
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