This booklet is dealt with in detail in "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction", which I’m annotating exhaustively, so I’ll content myself here with lifting the introductory paragraph and the “Footnotes”, which give a flavour of what the dialogue is about.
This is a record of conversations of Gretchen Weirob, a teacher of philosophy at a small mid-western college, and two of her friends. The conversations took place in her hospital room on the three nights before she died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. Sam Miller is a chaplain and a long-time friend of Weirob's; Dave Cohen is a former student of hers.
- THE FIRST NIGHT:
- THE SECOND NIGHT:
- The arguments against the view that personal identity consists in bodily identity are also suggested by Locke, as is the theory that memory is crucial.
- The argument that the memory theory is circular was made by "Butler (Joseph) - Of Personal Identity" an Appendix to his Analogy of Religion, first published in 1736.
- Locke's memory theory has been developed by a number of modern authors, including H. Paul Grice, Anthony Quinton and, in a different direction, Sydney Shoemaker.
- The possibility of circumventing Butler's charge of circularity by an appeal to causation1 is noted in "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Persons and Their Pasts" (1970) and "Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity".
- The "duplication argument" was apparently first used by the eighteenth-century freethinker, Antony Collins. Collins assumed that something like Locke's theory of personal identity was correct, and used the duplication argument to raise problems for the doctrine of immortality.
- THE THIRD NIGHT:
- Who is Julia?, by Barbara Harris, is an engaging novel published in 1972. (Dr. Matthews had not yet thought of brain rejuvenations.)
- Locke considers the possibility of the "consciousness" of a prince being transferred to the body of a cobbler.
- The idea of using the removal of a brain to suggest how this might happen comes from Sydney Shoemaker's seminal book, "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Self-Knowledge and Self-Identity" (1963).
- In a number of important articles which are collected in his book "Williams (Bernard) - Problems of the Self" (1973), Bernard Williams has cleverly and articulately resisted the memory theory and the view that such a brain removal2 would amount to a body transplant3.
- In particular, Williams has stressed the relevance of the duplication argument even in questions of terrestrial personal identity. Weirob's position in this essay is more inspired by Williams than anyone else.
- I have discussed Williams' arguments and related topics in "Perry (John) - Can the Self Divide?" (1972) and in a review of his book ("Perry (John) - Review of Bernard Williams' 'Problems of the Self'", 1976).
- An important article on the themes which emerge toward the end of the dialogue is "Parfit (Derek) - Personal Identity" (1971). This article, along with Locke's chapter and a number of other important chapters and articles by Hume, Shoemaker, Williams, and others are collected in my anthology "Perry (John), Ed. - Personal Identity" (1975).
- A number of new articles on personal identity appear in "Rorty (Amélie Oksenberg), Ed. - The Identities of Persons" (1976), including my "Perry (John) - The Importance of Being Identical" which addresses the questions raised by Cohen at the end.
In-Page Footnotes ("Perry (John) - A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality")
Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis, 1978
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)