Could Your Life Have Been Different?
Campbell (Scott)
Source: American Philosophical Quarterly, Jan2000, Vol. 37 Issue 1, p37, 14p;
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Most philosophers who accept the psychological criterion1 of personal identity (such as Parfit2 and Sydney Shoemaker) say little about the issue of our existence and what matters3 in survival4 in other possible worlds.
  2. The article argues that there are two views that such a 'psychological' theorist could accept here.
    1. The first takes it that your psychology (i.e., your memories, beliefs, intentions, traits, etc.) could have been very different, yet you could still exist, or at least that you could still have what matters5 in survival.
    2. According to the second view, though, a possible person who is very unlike the actual you cannot be you, and cannot have what matters6 in survival for you.
  3. Difficulties for both views are presented but it is further argued that despite the apparent counterintuitiveness of the second view, the psychological theorist is best off accepting the version of it which is presented by the author.

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. Points out the philosophical problems arising from the psychological theory of personal identity regarding the question of whether a person's life could have been different.
  2. Conception of a person by the psychological theorist;
  3. Origins thesis forwarded by Derek Parfit7;
  4. Minimalist intuition of a psychological self;
  5. Desire to be different;
  6. Analysis of identity over time;
  7. Issue of possible lives after death.

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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