Identity and Identities
Williams (Bernard)
Source: Harris - Identity - Essays Based on Herbert Spencer Lectures Given in the University of Oxford
Paper - Abstract

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Extract

  1. Many philosophical problems about identity concern the criteria for the identity of particular things. In the first part of this essay I shall consider a number of different philosophical problems that are associated with the concept of the identity of a particular thing. This leads to a particularly important case of the relation of particulars to types, which I shall take up in the later part of the essay: this is the notion of a person's social identity.
  2. I start with more strictly metaphysical questions. Identity intimately involves counting, either synchronic or over time, and problems of identity are connected with what, in ancient terms, may be called questions of the One and the Many, of how many things of a certain sort there are at a certain place or over a certain period. As Frege helpfully insisted, the question 'how many?' always demands an answer to 'how many what?'

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