Where I End and You Begin: An Exploration in Contemporary Philosophical Theory of Personal Identity
Manville, Christen Marie
MetadataShow full item record
There are several measures that various historical and contemporary western philosophers have suggested might reveal the essence of personal identity. Here I will outline the work of several contemporary philosophers relevant to personal identity theory, and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of each. After recognizing the shortcomings of these theories, I will present an alternative approach; instead of personal identity being a discrete unit measured by a singular essence or criteria, it should be evaluated as both a matter of degree and as having multiple criteria for identification and identity preservation. Additionally, I will argue for the status of personal identity not as a natural kind, which defines a category in the universe that exists independent of our human relationship to it; or functional kind, a kind defined by its function, such as a knife being defined as such by its ability to cut well. Instead I will propose that personal identity is a social kind, that is something that exists as a category because of the sociological and conceptual framework we define and create it through as humans. The social kind is in some ways nominal, but has important functions in our world and is relevant to real, and important, consequences.