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Status Reports - Status: Personal Identity (2017 - December)

Rationale for this Project


Summary of Progress during October - December 2017
  1. I spent 308 hours in 4Q17 on my Thesis or Thesis-related work (308 hours YTD, where for “YTD” – Year to Date – I mean the (academic) year that commenced in October 2017). That’s 106% of the planned effort (106% YTD). Overall, 45% of my Project effort in the Quarter was directed towards this project (making 45% YTD) – as against 41% planned (41% YTD).
  2. I’d increased my planned effort by about 50% with respect to the previous quarter, yet managed to exceed this budget. This was again enabled by the amount of time liberated as a result of my abandonment of Bridge. Again, maybe unfortunately, this free time and more besides was spent on the item below.
  3. As during the rest of 2017, a considerable amount of time was spent on papers issued under the aegis of Aeon, including maintaining the filing system and the summary Note. These papers are very interesting, and of wide scope. Not many of them are strictly germane to my research interests, but I continued to read – and where possible remark on – the one or two of interest that appeared daily. I have found this very satisfying and it has raised a lot of issues across a broad range of topics, many relevant to my research. I amended my routines to segregate out in this report (and the Interim Report) those Aeon articles that are really nothing to do with my research.
  4. I revised the Note describing my Current Beliefs on the topic of Personal Identity in the light of Pete’s review. Sophie Botros has agreed to review it as well, when I’ve licked it into shape.
  5. I attempted to read "Botros (Sophie) - Truth, Time and History: A Philosophical Enquiry", but found it tough-going. I tried reading "Dummett (Michael) - Truth and the Past", as an aid to comprehending the first part, but didn’t get very far.
  6. As Sophie had had her book partly reviewed by Simon J. Evnine, I bought his "Evnine (Simon J.) - Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood" and downloaded other papers. I can’t take this any further for now.
  7. Unfortunately, trouble with the trains meant that I couldn’t attend the Salon run by Oliver Black at his house in Spittalfields at which Edmund Fawcett spoke on “the rise of the political right and its threat to liberal democracy”. Sophie tells me that Edmund is Boris Johnson’s uncle, and that Boris wants to make a reply. I’d be surprised if he has the time, but Sophie seems sure it’ll happen.
  8. As David Wiggins attends the Salon, I bought his latest book: "Wiggins (David) - Continuants: Their Activity, Their Being, and Their Identity".
  9. I updated quite a number of my Notes. I’ve decided to change my approach in the short term. Rather than spending ages researching the reading lists, I’ll just list those books / papers on the relevant topic that I’ve actually read, and supply brief text. As a second pass I’ll use what I’ve read to update that text.
  10. Discovered (via Aeon) Kristie Miller who – sometimes with her partner David Braddon-Mitchell – has written a lot about persistence. Purchased "Miller (Kristie) - Issues in Theoretical Diversity: Persistence, Composition, and Time" & downloaded a lot of other stuff.
  11. Discovered (also via Aeon!) "Kazez (Jean) - The Philosophical Parent: Asking the Hard Questions About Having and Raising Children", which is highly relevant as by elder daughter Becky is scheduled to produce our first grandchild (a boy) at the end of January.
  12. Discovered (also via Aeon!!) "Smith (Martin) - Why Throwing 92 Heads in a Row Is Not Surprising" and had a preliminary email discussion with Pete & Mike. Started a Note as a critical review.
  13. Discovered "Silver (David), Etc. - Mastering Chess and Shogi by Self-Play with a General Reinforcement Learning Algorithm" and related papers. Relevant to Transhumanism.
  14. Checked out in detail "Olson (Eric) - Personal Identity - Oxford Bibliographies Online". Comforting to know I’m not missing anything. Need to assimilate Olson’s brief comments.
  15. Completed "Ayer (A.J.) - More of My Life".
  16. Converted my undergraduate paper on "Jackson (Frank) - Grue" to Note format.
  17. Looked back over:-
    → "Todman (Theo) - Birkbeck Philosophy Society - 2001/2002 Programme", and
    → "Todman (Theo) - Birkbeck Philosophy Society - 2002/2003 Programme".
    One day, I hope to write up my notes of the various papers delivered.
  18. Purchased "O'Neill (Cathy) - Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy", required reading for all new King’s Cambridge entrants.
  19. Catalogued a number of the books downloaded from Springer at the end of 2015.
  20. Discovered I have access to Cambridge Core (Link (https://www.cambridge.org/core/)), which allows up-to-date access to 17 philosophy journals, including:-
    Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review (Link (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie))
    Episteme (Link (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/episteme))
    Journal of the American Philosophical Association (Link (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-the-american-philosophical-association))
    Philosophy (Link (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/philosophy))
    Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements (Link (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements))
    Think (Link (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/think))
    There are also a great number of books available for download. I need to avoid distraction, but if there’s a book by CUP I need, and it’s here, then it’s a good place to go!
  21. Progress between reports can be obtained from the relevant section of my Summary Task List. More detail follows:-

Thesis (Total Hours = 174.25)
  1. Thesis - Reading / Writing (Total Hours = 154.5)
  2. Thesis - Discussions (Total Hours = 3)
  3. Thesis - Research Repositioning (Total Hours = 10)
  4. Thesis - Seminars (Attendance) (Total Hours = 4.25)
    • Oliver's Salon - Abortive Trip (1.25 hours)
    • Sophie's Book Launch - Discussion (3 hours)
  5. Thesis - Seminars (Reading)
    • Sophie's Book Launch - Journey + Planning (2.25 hours)
  6. Thesis - Seminars (Writing)

Thesis Background (Total Hours = 69)
  1. Thesis Background - Reading / Writing (Total Hours = 51.5)
  2. Thesis Background - Books Admin (Total Hours = 11.5)
    • Admin - Catalogue Papers and Books - Invesigate Cambridge Core (0.5 hours)
    • "Admin - Catalogue Papers and Books (including Abstract improvements)" (1.25 hours)
    • Admin - Catalogue Papers and Books (including Abstract improvements) - John Earman (1.5 hours)
    • Admin - Catalogue Papers and Books (including Abstract improvements) - Springer Downloads (3.75 hours)
    • Admin - Sort out - New Chest of Drawers & Filing Cabinet (4.5 hours)
  3. Thesis Background - Status (Total Hours = 6)

Thesis (Aeon) (Total Hours = 64.5)
Plans for the Near Future – Top Priority Tasks
Summary of Progress to Date

This was hived off to a separate Note back in 2010, and hasn’t changed much since.


In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 11:
  • Hopefully, I may complete, or get stuck, earlier.
  • By “current academic year”, I mean the period ending on my 65th birthday – ie. 13/11/2018. This is not to slip!
  • On the plus side, I’m already much further advanced than would be expected of someone commencing a PhD.
  • On the minus side, I want to go into much greater depth, and have other projects on the go – most notably Music, Philosophy of Religion and my Web-tools project.
  • The reason for deferring to my 65th birthday is that this is when I get my State Pension. This may not be much, but it’ll make a significant contribution towards the fees and expenses, which I can’t currently afford.
Footnote 12:
  • This used to say “complete a thesis …”, which is obviously impossible, given that my idea of a thesis is way in excess of what is required.
Footnote 24:
  • Try to keep up to date, but only read those that are strictly relevant – ignore the rest!
  • At present I have a relatively small reading-backlog, and a much larger reviewing-backlog.
  • Try to add a brief comment for each paper – maybe at the expense of reading the full text!


Note last updated: 05/01/2018 00:11:31



Text Colour Conventions

  1. Black: Printable Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018


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Timestamp: 02/02/2018 00:10:53. Comments to theo@theotodman.com.