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Personal Identity

Phase Sortals

(Text as at 18/12/2010 19:58:05)

(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)


See under Sortals1 for the introduction of the concept PHASE SORTAL. I seem to have misappropriated the term. In its standard usage (I am told), a phase sortal is a biologically-motivated term. The clearest examples are of individuals that metamorphose2; for example the butterfly: egg to larva (caterpillar) to pupa (chrysalis) to adult (butterfly). The caterpillar is a phase sortal of the organism, with clear spatio-temporal boundaries. My standard example is of CHILD, which is a (vaguely-boundaried) biological phase of the substance sortal HUMAN BEING.

An example of a possible human phase sortal that is a non-person is INFANT. This example might be especially relevant to the topic, because “infant” is derived from the Latin in-fans “without speech”, and the capacity for speech is often claimed to be an essential prerequisite for being a person.

Any suggestion that the concept PERSON is “no more than” a phase sortal of an umbrella concept isn’t intended to imply unimportance. Rather, simply that persons might not belong to kinds3 (and in particular natural4 kinds), nor be substances5, but that personhood might be a property of substances (of animals6, for instance).

What about “periodic” phase sortals such as STUDENT? A human being can “pop in and out of” studenthood by registering or deregistering, but he can’t do this with childhood. Which model suits personhood? See the discussion of intermittent7 objects. However, if the above suggestion that the concept PHASE SORTAL is biologically motivated is correct, a purely social concept such as STUDENT is not a phase sortal in this sense, and PERSON might not be either. I could, of course, invent a new term of art.

All roads seem to lead to Wiggins (Snowdon refers to him a lot in the context of Animalism, though I seem to remember that Olson thinks Wiggins isn’t a true Animalist, but a supporter of the psychological view). I need to read "Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance" and "Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance Renewed" with some urgency; also, maybe, "Wiggins (David) - Metaphysics: Substance" in "Grayling (Anthony), Ed. - Philosophy 1 - A Guide Through the Subject".

This is mostly a place-holder8. Currently, just see the categorised reading-list (if any).



Printable Versions:



Table of the Previous 2 Versions of this Note:

Date Length Title
26/11/2007 23:25:26 2287 Phase Sortals
12/08/2007 10:17:46 1421 Phase Sortals



Note last updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
18/12/2010 19:58:05 Phase Sortals Sortals

Summary of Note Links from this Page

Animals Awaiting Attention (Personal Identity) Intermittent Objects Kinds Metamorphosis
Natural Kinds Sortals Substance    

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.




Summary of Note Links to this Page

Clinical Observations Daniel Dennett – Conditions of Personhood Human Beings Intermittent Objects, 2 Kinds
Metamorphosis Personal Identity and Moral Action. T1 Psychological Continuity Reductionism Research - Proposal
Sortals Substance Thesis - Chapter 03 (What is a Person?) Thesis - Chapter 04 (Basic Metaphysical Issues) Thesis - Current Stance
Unity of the Person Wiggins      

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.




Authors, Books & Papers Citing this Note

Author Title Medium Extra Links Read?
Baker (Lynne Rudder) When Do Persons Begin and End? Paper High Quality Abstract   Yes
Campbell (Scott) Persons and Substances Paper Medium Quality Abstract    
Hershenov (David) Review of Nancy Murphy's 'Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?' Paper High Quality Abstract   Yes
Olson (Eric) Persistence Paper High Quality Abstract 2 Yes
Olson (Eric) Psychology and Personal Identity Paper High Quality Abstract 2, 3 Yes
Price (Marjorie) Identity Through Time Paper Medium Quality Abstract    
Shoemaker (David) Personal Identity, Rational Anticipation, and Self-Concern Paper High Quality Abstract   Yes
Smart (Brian) How can Persons be Ascribed M-Predicates? Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Snowdon (Paul) The Self and Personal Identity Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Clinical Observations Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Current Position Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Human Beings Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Intermittent Objects Paper Medium Quality Abstract 2 Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Kinds Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Metamorphosis Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Phase Sortals Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Psychological Continuity Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Reductionism Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Sortals Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Substance Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Unity of the Person Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Wiggins Paper Medium Quality Abstract   Yes



References & Reading List

Author Title Medium Source Read?
Grayling (Anthony), Ed. Philosophy 1 - A Guide Through the Subject Book - Cited (via Paper Cited) Bibliographical details to be supplied 27%
Lockwood (Michael) When Does a Life Begin? Paper - By Subtopic High Quality Abstract Lockwood - Moral Dilemmas in Modern Medicine, 1987 Yes
Lockwood (Michael), Ed. Moral Dilemmas in Modern Medicine Book - By Subtopic (via Paper By Subtopic) Low Quality Abstract Lockwood (Michael), Ed. - Moral Dilemmas in Modern Medicine 43%
Marquis (Don) Why Abortion is Immoral Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 86, No. 4, Apr., 1989, pp. 183-202 No
Todman (Theo) Thesis - Phase Sortals Paper - By Subtopic Medium Quality Abstract   Yes
Wiggins (David) Metaphysics: Substance Paper - Cited Grayling - Philosophy 1 - A Guide Through the Subject, 1998, Chapter 4 (part) No
Wiggins (David) Sameness and Substance Book - Cited Medium Quality Abstract Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance 11%



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