Philosophers’ Index Abstract
- Focuses on the concepts of becoming a conventional person.
- Use of realism about personal identity to refer to the view that personal identity over time is not a matter of convention;
- Contrast between conventionalism and realism about personal identity;
- Changes needed to casually instigate more changes of convention until such time as enough have changed.
- It is an increasingly influential view that personal identity across time is in part a matter of the attitudes or desires of the entities that constitute persons. Thus some talk of "person-directed practices" – practices of reasonable self-regard that entities have for some of their continuants. In some versions, these practices are social as well as personal.
- On these views a person's identity over time is, at least in part, determined by the various person-directed practices of the individual and/or of the community. These practices include the attribution of blame and reward for past actions, encouragement for future actions, the transmission of property, the attitude of anticipation or self-regard for future continuants and so forth.
- On this view someone survives some event just if, given her person-tracking practices, or those of her community, the being that exists prior to the event is treated in the same person-directed way as the being that exists after the event. Yet had these practices been somewhat different, she would have failed to survive the event even though, as it was, she did survive.
- We will sometimes call these person-directed practices 'conventions of identity', and later come back to discuss whether 'convention' is exactly the right term. If these practices are conventions, then it seems that personal identity is sometimes, at least in part, a matter of convention. Call such a view conventionalism about identity.
- The job of this paper is to defend the coherence of this view, and in particular to defend it from some important recent criticisms by Trenton Merricks.
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