Reviews: Sameness and Substance by David Wiggins; Objects and Identity by Harold Noonan
Baldwin (Thomas)
Source: Philosophy, Vol. 57, No. 220 (Apr., 1982), pp. 269-272
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Although Wiggins and Noonan have each written a book about identity, and have thus written books on the same topic, their views are so different that no one could accuse them of having written the same book.
  2. Wiggins' book starts off from the views of his earlier book Identity and Spatio-Temporal Continuity: that is, he again maintains that all identities are dependent upon sortal1 concepts (the dependency thesis D) whilst rejecting the thesis that it could be the case that a is the same f as b but not the same g as b (the relativity thesis R, where f and g are sortal2 concepts).
  3. The arguments against R cover familiar ground, but D is worked out afresh, and the discussion of D leads into two new chapters in which the role of sortal3 concepts is developed in detail.
  4. The real essences of natural kinds4 are presented as paradigm cases of sortal5 concepts, and these concepts are then contrasted with those which inform our individuation6 of artifacts and other non-natural things. The essentialism implicit in this account of sortal7 concepts is next taken up and developed at length, along lines Wiggins has already made familiar. The resulting position is characterized as one of sober 'conceptual realism': to be contrasted with an anti-conceptualist realism, which involves the denial of D, and an anti-realist conceptualism, which involves the rejection of the essentialist characterization of sortal8 concepts.
  5. Finally, Wiggins turns to personal identity, where he argues against neo-Lockean accounts which rely on memory and neo-Humean accounts which treat personal identity as a matter of convention: in their place he argues that persons are members of a natural kind9 Homo sapiens – whose typical members have the psychological attributes we ascribe to ourselves.


Reviews of
"Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance" and
"Noonan (Harold) - Objects and Identity: An Examination of Relative Identity and its Consequences".

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