- Materialists1 or physicalists2 are philosophers who believe that humans are completely physical beings, whereas dualists believe we are minds – sometimes souls – with bodies. Both materialists3 and dualists are very interested in the nature of personal identity. In the recent literature, there are four prominent basic views on it. The proponents of all these views want to answer the questions, ‘What is a person?’ and ‘How can we identify one?’. Other relevant questions include, ‘Who am I?’, ‘Who am I in certain contexts?’, and ‘Is there a fact of the matter to my being me?’
- Let’s look at the discussion over the so-called ‘simple’ view of personal identity. Simple views4 have commonly been associated with substance dualism (which I’ll explain later); yet lately, there is a new simple view5 that is a variant of materialism6. In this article I wish to contrast these two views in the context of the broader debate on personal identity. The basic views of personal identity I discuss here are: the body view; the brain view; the memory/character continuity view; and the simple view7. Additionally, there is a new8 simple view9 called the not-so-simple simple view10. Defenders of both simple views11 largely agree in their estimate of the first three views, yet there are some important distinctions between the two simple views12, which deserve attention. (There are other views that I do not discuss here, such as the narrative view.)
Footnote 8: See "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Personal Identity: A Not-So-Simple Simple View".
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