- Sydney Shoemaker leads today's "neo-Lockean" liberation of persons from the conservative animalist1 charge of "neo-Aristotelians" such as Eric Olson, according to whom persons are biological entities and who challenge all neo-Lockean views on grounds that abstracting from strictly physical, or bodily, criteria plays fast and loose with our identities.
- There is a fundamental mistake on both sides: a false dichotomy between bodily continuity2 versus psychological continuity3 theories of personal identity.
- Neo-Lockeans, like everyone else today who relies on Locke's analysis of personal identity, including Derek Parfit4, have either completely distorted or not understood Locke's actual view. Shoemaker's defense, which uses a "package deal" definition that relies on internal relations of synchronic and diachronic unity and employs the Ramsey-Lewis5 account to define personal identity, leaves far less room for psychological continuity6 views than for my own view, which, independently of its radical implications, is that
- consciousness makes personal identity, and
- in consciousness alone personal identity consists - which happens to be also Locke's actual view.
- Moreover, the ubiquitous Fregean conception of borders and the so-called "ambiguity of is" collapse in the light of what Hintikka has called the "Frege trichotomy." The Ramsey-Lewis account, due to the problematic way Shoemaker tries to bind the variables, makes it impossible for the neo-Lockean a la Shoemaker to fulfill the uniqueness clause required by all such Lewis-style definitions; such attempts avoid circularity only at the expense of mistaking isomorphism with identity.
- Contrary to what virtually all philosophers writing on the topic assume, fission7 does not destroy personal identity. A proper analysis of public versus perspectival identification, derived using actual case studies from neuropsychiatry, provides the scientific, mathematical and logical frameworks for a new theory of self-reference, wherein "consciousness," "self-consciousness8," and the "I9," can be precisely defined in terms of the subject and the subject-in-itself.
Part of "Catterson (Troy), Ed. - Synthese Special Issue on Personal Identity".
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