Julia North Thought Experiment

Topics: Psychology, Mind, Ontology Pages: 3 (1287 words) Published: November 4, 2009
In the Julia North thought experiment, Julia North’s brain is transplanted into a different body. The underlying question arising from this case is does Julia North continue to exist after the operation? In this paper I will explore how the same-brain view, the bodily view, and the psychological linkage view would answer this question and provide evidence as to why I believe that the psychological linkage view in general and the indirect memory view in particular provide the most compelling answer. A view obviously related to this case is the same-brain view in which Julia’s continued existence and personal identity is determined by the survival of her living brain. According to such a view, Julia remains alive after the operation because of the continued existence of her brain, albeit within a different physical body. Julia North’s survival was determined by the fact that after the brain transplant operation her original physical brain was preserved and with it all of the memories and thoughts that had previously constituted Julia North. While this view may seem initially reasonable, I find it to be deficient when parameters of the case are modified. For example, consider an alternative situation in which Julia’s brain was preserved and kept alive but her thoughts and memories were completely erased before transplanting her brain into a new body. The resultant person would have no recollection of Julia’s past thoughts or actions or even the slightest idea of who Julia North was. Certainly this new person would not be considered the same as the previous Julia North. Instead of Julia continuing to exist, people would say that Julia had died and with her physical brain a new person had been created, thus discrediting the value of the same-brain account of personal identity. Another major account of personal identity is the bodily view. According to the bodily view, existence and personal identity are based on the continued existence of the same living body....
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