- The term ‘reductionism1’ has entered into recent discussions of person and their identity. Some theories are classed as reductionist, others as non-reductionist, where does the C-theory2 stand? Is it a reductionist theory? If so, is it reductionist to an extent that is objectionable or problematic?
- In one respect the C-theory is not at all reductionist. It provides an account of the self in wholly mentalistic terms, and no attempt is made to reduce mental terms or concepts to non-mental terms or concepts, or to say that mental items are identical with, or constituted by, non-mental items.
- Taking experience seriously means taking experience to be an ineliminable component of reality. Moreover, if we take concepts such as ‘person’, ‘self’, ‘subject’, and ‘experience’ to belong to the same family, then the C-theorist’s enterprise is a family business – all the concepts employed belong to the same circle.
- Yet, in other respects, the C-theory may seem very reductionist indeed: selves or subjects are equated with complexes of interrelated mental items. What could be more reductionist than this?
- To assess the extent to which the C-theory is reductionist, we need a clearer idea of what ‘reductionism’ amounts to. Parfit is largely responsible for introducing the notion into the field of personal identity, and has provided several characterizations of what a reductive account of persons would amount to or require – particularly in Part III of "Parfit (Derek) - Reasons and Persons" – but before commenting on these, I will make some general remarks.
- This is Dainton’s – rather technical – theory of the persisting self in terms of streams of Consciousness - hence the "C".
- This – while thoroughly grounded in a psychological view of our identity – sounds like it would be useful in my consideration of Forward Psychological continuity.
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