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Personal Identity

Thought Experiments

(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)

(For other versions of this Note, see the tables at the end)


In general, I’m in favour of using thought experiments in philosophy. However, I’d like to consider, following Wilkes, whether some thought-experiments in pursuit of clarifying personal identity propose impossible scenarios, or trade on under-specification. Sometimes our intuitions are unreliable as to the truth or possibility of what we intuit. Some doubt the possible consciousness of complex artificial systems, but is this anything other than a fallacious argument from personal incredulity? Descartes argued for the real distinction between mind and body1 by thinking he could imagine their separation, but could he really? Sometimes, our intuitions may give us no clue one way or the other, or only a gentle lead (as Williams seems to be suggesting in "Williams (Bernard) - The Self and the Future"). "Snowdon (Paul) - Personal Identity and Brain Transplants" gives a helpful critique of Wilkes’s and Johnston’s arguments against thought experiments.



Live Version of this Archived Note

Date Length Title
30/11/2019 22:58:05 4058 Thought Experiments


Table of the 5 Later Versions of this Note

Date Length Title
11/05/2018 09:37:26 5643 Thought Experiments
11/03/2018 20:19:41 3329 Thought Experiments
26/03/2014 19:24:58 1688 Thought Experiments
18/12/2010 19:58:05 1020 Thought Experiments
26/11/2007 23:25:26 924 Thought Experiments



This version updated Reading List for this Topic Parent Topic
12/08/2007 10:17:46 Thought Experiments Research - Proposal



Summary of Notes Links from this Page

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Summary of Note Links to this Page

Animalism Fission Four Dimensionalism Fusion Methuselah
Person Physicalism Psychological Continuity - Forward Replication Research - Focus
Research - Proposal, 2 Ship of Theseus Teletransportation Thesis - Outline Thesis - The Form of the Argument

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