A Major Problem With Parfit
Alexander (Ronald)
Source: Alexander (Ronald) - The Self, Supervenience and Personal Identity, 1997, Chapter 9
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsBooks / Papers Citing this PaperNotes Citing this PaperColour-ConventionsDisclaimer

Author’s Abstract1

  1. In Chapter IX, I try to show that the philosophical demise of personal identity as generated by Parfit2 was misguided from the beginning because of his careless use of thought experiments3. The thought experiments4 devised by Parfit5 have unfortunately shaped the direction of much of the recent discussion on the problem of personal identity.
  2. I do not claim that thought experiments6 should be banned in the analysis of concepts. For example, the discussions emerging from Putnam's 'Brain-in-a-Vat' and Searle's 'Chinese Room' experiments have been very fruitful. However, one must not let the thought experiment7 lose significant contact with the background conditions that serve as the context for the phenomenon under consideration.
  3. I contend that Parfit8 is guilty of this error. Of course, the point of using imaginative variation in respect to the properties of a phenomenon being investigated is to gain a better understanding of the nature of the phenomenon. But this cannot be accomplished if the background conditions are arbitrarily varied as well.


Photocopy of complete Book filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 01 (A)".

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Alexander (Ronald) - The Self, Supervenience and Personal Identity: Introduction", pp. 4-5.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

© Theo Todman, June 2007 - June 2020. Please address any comments on this page to theo@theotodman.com. File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page