A Hybrid View of Personal Identity
Hodson (Sommer)
Source: PhD Thesis, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, 2013
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Personal identity is unlike many other metaphysical issues in that it is something that ordinary people understand and have rational beliefs about, but most leading accounts of personal identity ignore our pre-philosophical beliefs, as evidenced by the highly counterintuitive results they yield. I argue that the conflict between these accounts and our pre-philosophical beliefs should not be taken as evidence that our ordinary beliefs are incorrect, but that the accounts which contradict our existing beliefs fail to capture the thing we are actually concerned with when it comes to our own existence through time. After defending this central role for our beliefs, I survey several representative accounts of personal identity, arguing that each clashes irreconcilably with reasonable and deeply-held beliefs about our own existence through time.
  2. My positive claim is that a successful account incorporates elements from both of the two major types of personal identity account, psychological continuity and physical continuity. I argue that a hybrid view, according to which a person continues to exist so long as she has the same psychology in virtue of having the same physical brain, is the best fit for our actual pre-philosophical understanding of our own existence through time. The hybrid view yields the expected results in typical situations and provides more plausible results in hypothetical scenarios than its competitors, while withstanding objections as well as its competitors.
  3. Finally, I discuss consequences that acceptance of the hybrid view may have for related questions. I argue that the hybrid view does not require acceptance of any particular theory concerning related metaphysical questions and can thus be accepted without committing to a position on other matters. I also discuss the ethical implications of the hybrid view, with particular emphasis on how the hybrid view relates to moral responsibility.

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