Personal identity, indeterminacy and obligation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

It is the foundation of all rights and obligations, and of all accountableness; and the notion of it is fixed and precise. (Thomas Reid 1975 [1785]) Personal identity and indeterminacy In Reasons and Persons (1984), Derek Parfit defends the complex view of personal identity, which he formulates as follows: The complex view: Facts about personal identity consist in other, impersonal facts. More specifically, Parfit defends the view that facts about personal identity reduce to facts about psychological continuity or connectedness (Parfit 1984, p.216). He then goes on to argue that this view implies the possibility of indeterminacy: The Indeterminacy of Personal Identity: It is possible for questions about personal identity to lack determinate answers. Parfit explains his reasoning as follows: We can describe cases where, between me now and some future person, the physical and psychological connections hold only to reduced degrees. If I imagine myself in such a case, I can always ask, “Am I about to die? Will the resulting person be me?” On the Reductionist View, in some cases there would be no answer. My question would be empty. The claim that I was about to die would be neither true nor false. (Parfit 1984, p. 214) Many people find this conclusion incredible, and not in a good way. Chisholm, for example, writes that: When we use “the same person” in [the] strict way … although cases may well arise in which we have no way of deciding whether the person x is the same person as the person y, nevertheless the question “Is x the same person as y?” will have an answer and that answer will be either “yes” or “no.” If we know that x is a person and if we also know that y is a person, then it is not possible to imagine circumstances under which the question “Is x the same person as y?” is a borderline question – a question admitting only of a “yes and no” answer. (Chisholm 1970a, p. 171)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersonal Identity
Subtitle of host publicationComplex or Simple?
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages63-81
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781139028486
ISBN (Print)9781107014442
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009

Fingerprint

Indeterminacy
Person
Personal Identity
Obligation
Derek Parfit
Psychological
Impersonals
Physical
Reductionist
Thomas Reid
Connectedness
Continuity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this

Wasserman, R. (2009). Personal identity, indeterminacy and obligation. In Personal Identity: Complex or Simple? (pp. 63-81). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139028486.005
Wasserman, Ryan. / Personal identity, indeterminacy and obligation. Personal Identity: Complex or Simple?. Cambridge University Press, 2009. pp. 63-81
@inbook{b416f7e41d7146d6ad5cd1808931c5af,
title = "Personal identity, indeterminacy and obligation",
abstract = "It is the foundation of all rights and obligations, and of all accountableness; and the notion of it is fixed and precise. (Thomas Reid 1975 [1785]) Personal identity and indeterminacy In Reasons and Persons (1984), Derek Parfit defends the complex view of personal identity, which he formulates as follows: The complex view: Facts about personal identity consist in other, impersonal facts. More specifically, Parfit defends the view that facts about personal identity reduce to facts about psychological continuity or connectedness (Parfit 1984, p.216). He then goes on to argue that this view implies the possibility of indeterminacy: The Indeterminacy of Personal Identity: It is possible for questions about personal identity to lack determinate answers. Parfit explains his reasoning as follows: We can describe cases where, between me now and some future person, the physical and psychological connections hold only to reduced degrees. If I imagine myself in such a case, I can always ask, “Am I about to die? Will the resulting person be me?” On the Reductionist View, in some cases there would be no answer. My question would be empty. The claim that I was about to die would be neither true nor false. (Parfit 1984, p. 214) Many people find this conclusion incredible, and not in a good way. Chisholm, for example, writes that: When we use “the same person” in [the] strict way … although cases may well arise in which we have no way of deciding whether the person x is the same person as the person y, nevertheless the question “Is x the same person as y?” will have an answer and that answer will be either “yes” or “no.” If we know that x is a person and if we also know that y is a person, then it is not possible to imagine circumstances under which the question “Is x the same person as y?” is a borderline question – a question admitting only of a “yes and no” answer. (Chisholm 1970a, p. 171)",
author = "Ryan Wasserman",
year = "2009",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1017/CBO9781139028486.005",
language = "English",
isbn = "9781107014442",
pages = "63--81",
booktitle = "Personal Identity",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",
address = "United Kingdom",

}

Wasserman, R 2009, Personal identity, indeterminacy and obligation. in Personal Identity: Complex or Simple?. Cambridge University Press, pp. 63-81. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139028486.005

Personal identity, indeterminacy and obligation. / Wasserman, Ryan.

Personal Identity: Complex or Simple?. Cambridge University Press, 2009. p. 63-81.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

TY - CHAP

T1 - Personal identity, indeterminacy and obligation

AU - Wasserman, Ryan

PY - 2009/1/1

Y1 - 2009/1/1

N2 - It is the foundation of all rights and obligations, and of all accountableness; and the notion of it is fixed and precise. (Thomas Reid 1975 [1785]) Personal identity and indeterminacy In Reasons and Persons (1984), Derek Parfit defends the complex view of personal identity, which he formulates as follows: The complex view: Facts about personal identity consist in other, impersonal facts. More specifically, Parfit defends the view that facts about personal identity reduce to facts about psychological continuity or connectedness (Parfit 1984, p.216). He then goes on to argue that this view implies the possibility of indeterminacy: The Indeterminacy of Personal Identity: It is possible for questions about personal identity to lack determinate answers. Parfit explains his reasoning as follows: We can describe cases where, between me now and some future person, the physical and psychological connections hold only to reduced degrees. If I imagine myself in such a case, I can always ask, “Am I about to die? Will the resulting person be me?” On the Reductionist View, in some cases there would be no answer. My question would be empty. The claim that I was about to die would be neither true nor false. (Parfit 1984, p. 214) Many people find this conclusion incredible, and not in a good way. Chisholm, for example, writes that: When we use “the same person” in [the] strict way … although cases may well arise in which we have no way of deciding whether the person x is the same person as the person y, nevertheless the question “Is x the same person as y?” will have an answer and that answer will be either “yes” or “no.” If we know that x is a person and if we also know that y is a person, then it is not possible to imagine circumstances under which the question “Is x the same person as y?” is a borderline question – a question admitting only of a “yes and no” answer. (Chisholm 1970a, p. 171)

AB - It is the foundation of all rights and obligations, and of all accountableness; and the notion of it is fixed and precise. (Thomas Reid 1975 [1785]) Personal identity and indeterminacy In Reasons and Persons (1984), Derek Parfit defends the complex view of personal identity, which he formulates as follows: The complex view: Facts about personal identity consist in other, impersonal facts. More specifically, Parfit defends the view that facts about personal identity reduce to facts about psychological continuity or connectedness (Parfit 1984, p.216). He then goes on to argue that this view implies the possibility of indeterminacy: The Indeterminacy of Personal Identity: It is possible for questions about personal identity to lack determinate answers. Parfit explains his reasoning as follows: We can describe cases where, between me now and some future person, the physical and psychological connections hold only to reduced degrees. If I imagine myself in such a case, I can always ask, “Am I about to die? Will the resulting person be me?” On the Reductionist View, in some cases there would be no answer. My question would be empty. The claim that I was about to die would be neither true nor false. (Parfit 1984, p. 214) Many people find this conclusion incredible, and not in a good way. Chisholm, for example, writes that: When we use “the same person” in [the] strict way … although cases may well arise in which we have no way of deciding whether the person x is the same person as the person y, nevertheless the question “Is x the same person as y?” will have an answer and that answer will be either “yes” or “no.” If we know that x is a person and if we also know that y is a person, then it is not possible to imagine circumstances under which the question “Is x the same person as y?” is a borderline question – a question admitting only of a “yes and no” answer. (Chisholm 1970a, p. 171)

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84928083934&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84928083934&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/CBO9781139028486.005

DO - 10.1017/CBO9781139028486.005

M3 - Chapter

AN - SCOPUS:84928083934

SN - 9781107014442

SP - 63

EP - 81

BT - Personal Identity

PB - Cambridge University Press

ER -

Wasserman R. Personal identity, indeterminacy and obligation. In Personal Identity: Complex or Simple?. Cambridge University Press. 2009. p. 63-81 https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139028486.005