The Social Nature of Personal Identity
Quante (Michael)
Source: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 14, Issue 05-06 (2007), pp. 56-76 (21)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

    In this paper the thesis that personal identity is essentially constituted by social relations is defended. To make this plausible the problem of personal identity is broken down into four interrelated sets of problems. Of these, the unity -- and the persistence -- problems cannot be resolved using the notion of a person and therefore personal identity in this sense is not socially constituted. But this paper argues that the conditions of personhood, and the structure of a human being's personality -- which are the other two sets into which the problem of personal identity is dissolved -- are best understood as being constituted by social relations, especially relations of mutual recognition.
Introduction in "Ikaheimo (Heikki) & Laitinen (Arto) - Dimensions of Personhood"
  1. Michael Quante distinguishes, in turn, between four different questions that get easily confused in the discussions on personhood. These are the questions concerning:-
    …a) the conditions of personhood,
    …b) the unity of personhood,
    …c) the persistence of human persons and
    …d) the structure of biographical or narrative ‘personality’ or ‘selfhood’.
    (These all differ from Olson’s question of what we are)1.
  2. Quante analyses closely these questions and their interrelations, and suggests that while personhood and personality are irreducibly socially constituted, our unity and conditions of persistence are not. Quante also argues that while the concept of a person is not logically tied to the concept of human being, our experiences and intuitions about what it is to be a person are inevitably intertwined with those about what it is to be human.

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