Is 'Person' a Sortal Term?
Kanzian (Christian)
Source: Gasser (Georg) & Stefan (Matthias), Eds. - Personal Identity: Complex or Simple?
Paper - Abstract

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  1. The leading questions of my contribution are
    1. Whether “person” is a sortal term in a technical sense, and
    2. Why this is relevant for the discussion of personal identity, especially regarding the opposition between simplicity and complexity.
  2. In the first parts of the chapter I discuss (standard) no answers: “person” is not sortal; then yes answers: “person” is a sortal in a strict and technical sense, exactly like “car,” “sheep” or “Homo sapiens”; finally, views which seem to be inconsistent concerning the semantic character of “person.”
  3. Then I try to present an alternative: “person” is a semantically unique term. This uniqueness consists in a kind of incompleteness, which I intend to spell out.
  4. I discuss this view in the context of a theory of personal identity. There I start with considerations about persons as a kind, and continue by focusing on individual persons. In my center of interest lie specific personal individual forms as the founding instances of personal identity.
  5. In conclusion I borrow an argument from the philosophy of mind to strengthen my thesis of personal individual forms as simple units.

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