Personal Identity: The Simple View
Southgate (Susan Jane)
Source: Durham PhD Thesis, 1993
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. In the examination of the concept of personal identity, this thesis concentrates upon the central divide between complex and simple accounts.
  2. The opposing theories have been evaluated with respect to their ability to produce a concept of persons which will fulfil the role of a forensic1 being. Thus, the criticisms suggested are not made solely in consideration of the coherence of supportive arguments but also on the ability to provide accurate accounts of a person as a moral agent: whether value and responsibility are sufficiently met by the concept and whether the resulting person can be objectively and reliably identified.
  3. The thesis
    1. Begins with an explanation of the historical roots of the debate, considering the originators of the simple view2 in their criticism of Locke's conception of personal identity.
    2. It then moves on to examine the modern version of the simple view3, explaining its arguments and providing a critique.
    3. Finally, modifications to the modern simple view4 are suggested, pointing the way to a more satisfactory debate within personal identity theory, whilst showing the central epistemological role that such a debate has.

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