Materialism, Dualism, and “Simple” Theories of Personal Identity
Zimmerman (Dean)
Source: Gasser (Georg) & Stefan (Matthias), Eds. - Personal Identity: Complex or Simple?
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Derek Parfit1 introduced “the Complex View” and “the Simple View”2 as names for contrasting theories about the nature of personal identity.
  2. He detects a “reductionist tradition”, typified by Hume and Locke, and continuing in such twentieth‐century philosophers as Grice, Ayer, Quinton, Mackie, John Perry, David Lewis, and Parfit3 himself. According to the Reductionists, “the fact of personal identity over time just consists in the holding of certain other facts. It consists in various kinds of psychological continuity4, of memory, character, intention, and the like, which in turn rest upon bodily continuity5.”
  3. The Complex View comprises “[t]he central claims of the reductionist tradition” (Parfit6 1982, p. 227). The Complex View about the nature of personal identity is a forerunner to what he later calls “Reductionism”.
  4. The Complex View favoured by Reductionists is contrasted with the Simple View7 of an opposing “non‐reductionist tradition”. According to Non‐Reductionists, ‘personal identity does not just consist in these [psychological and physical] continuities, but is a quite separate “further fact” (Parfit8 1982, p. 227; see also Parfit9 1984, p. 210).

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