The Problem of Personal Identi

Topics: Mind, Psychology, Cognition Pages: 4 (1778 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Problem of Personal Identity

In the essay written by John Perry called “Will Tommy Vladek Survive?” Perry presents a very controversial topic. In this story Tommy Vladek is considered brain dead but his body is still totally functional. There is another child in the story who has had an accident, and his body is completely destroyed. The child’s body that is completely destroyed still has perfect brain function, and the doctors can put his brain into Tommy’s body. Perry presents different views on the topic of who will survive the operation, Tommy who is providing the body, or Sam who is providing the brain? When looking at the main question at hand. Who is Harry Vladek likely to bring home from the hospital? Perry states many times throughout his essay that, Tommy will probably not be the one who survives the operation. Perry is not 100% certain of this, but he states many different concepts of identity and the mind, to help understand who should survive the operation and why. These concepts include identity and similarity, body transfers, brain identity, mind identity and memory theory. The first main concept that Perry states is identity and similarity. He starts by stating the difference between identity and similarity, which most people use to describe the same things. However, when Parry uses the term identity, he means that there is just one thing involved. For example if you have twins, they are not identical twins because if the twins were identical, then only one person would exist. Similarity means two things are the same. So in this case, if you had twins you would say that they are the same. Some philosophers say that we are never identical from moment to moment, because we

are always changing and having new thoughts and memories in our brains every second. Personal identity cannot help with the Tommy Vladek case, because you can say that Tommy’s physical appearance has not changed at all. But...
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