Personal Identity
Swinburne (Richard)
Source: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 74 (1973 - 1974), pp. 231-247
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. A great deal has been written in the last few years on the problem of personal identity. My excuse for adding to the literature is my belief that much of the writing has produced fundamentally misleading solutions to the problem, arising from a confusion of two issues.
  2. There are two distinct questions which can be asked about personal identity.
    • The first is - what does it mean to say that a person P2 at a time t2 is the same person as a person P1 at an earlier time t1?
    • The second is - what evidence can we have that a person P2 at t2 is the same person as a person P1, at t1, (and how are different pieces of evidence to be weighed against each other)?
    These questions are often confused in writing on this subject.
  3. Much of the writing seems to me to be on the right lines if it is regarded as attempting to provide an answer to the second question but to be extremely misguided if it is regarded, as it often appears to be, as attempting to provide an answer to the first question.

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