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Where Does Personal Identity Reside? : Tommy Vladek
Personal identity theory is a theory that questions our existence philosophically: it asks who we are and how do we know? In the essay “Will Tommy Vladek Survive?” John Perry described a controversial topic on identity by analyzing an essay called The Meeting by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Konibluth. In the essay there were two boys -Tommy Vladek a destructive boy, who was mentally challenged but healthy-bodied and Sam a normal boy, who had an accident that damaged his body but left his brain healthy. Tommy’s family was facing difficulties because of the special care needed for him. A Dr. Nicholson gave Tommy’s parents the choice of a new brain that will make “upgrade” Tommy and they had eighteen hours to make their choice. In the essay, Perry describes different views on the topic of identity, mainly on who will survive the operation, whether it would be the destructive Tommy or Sam the normal boy. The different views Perry has on identity are shown in the table below.
In the essay Perry identifies concepts that could explain who Harry Vladek is likely to bring home from hospital; identity and similarity, body transfers, brain theory, and memory theory. Throughout the essay Perry hinted that he did not think Tommy will be the one to survive because of the theory which he thinks makes the strongest defense (explained more in later paragraph).
The first concept that Perry discussed is identity and similarity. When Perry uses identity (identical), he means there is just one being (or thing) involved. For example, if you buy two cloud cars that are pink and the same model, they look identical. According to Perry they are not identical because if they were, only one cloud car would exist. Similarity is the state or fact of being the same. So if you bought two cloud cars you would say they are similar not identical. The difference between identical and similarity: Identical means one thing and similarity is the state



Cited: Shoemaker, Sydney, and Richard Swinburne. Personal Identity. Personal Identity. Oxford, England: B. Blackwell, 1984. N. pag. Print. st Miller, Fred D., and Nicholas D. Smith. Thought Probes: Philosophy through Science Fiction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1981. Print..

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