Discovering Identity

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There is no single problem of personal identity, but rather a wide range of loosely connected questions. Here are the most familiar ones:

Who am I? We often speak of one's “personal identity” as what makes one the person one is. Your identity in this sense consists roughly of what makes you unique as an individual and different from others. Or it is the way you see or define yourself, or the network of values and convictions that structure your life. This individual identity is a property (or set of properties). Presumably it is one you have only contingently: you might have had a different identity from the one you in fact have. It is also a property that you may have only temporarily: you could swap your current individual identity for a new one, or perhaps even get by without any. (Ludwig 1997 is a typical discussion of this topic.)

Personhood. What is it to be a person? What is necessary, and what suffices, for something to count as a person, as opposed to a non-person? What have people got that non-people haven't got? This amounts more or less to asking for the definition of the word person. An answer would take the form “Necessarily, x is a person if and only if … x …”, with the blanks appropriately filled in. More specifically, we can ask at what point in one's development from a fertilized egg there comes to be a person, or what it would take for a chimpanzee or a Martian or an electronic computer to be a person, if they could ever be. (See e.g. Chisholm 1976: 136f., Baker 2000: ch. 3.)

Persistence. What does it take for a person to persist from one time to another—that is, for the same person to exist at different times? What sorts of adventures could you possibly survive, in the broadest sense of the word ‘possible’, and what sort of event would necessarily bring your existence to an end? What determines which past or future being is you? Suppose you point to a child in an old class photograph and say, “That's me.” What makes you that one, rather

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