Synopses & Reviews
brings together the most important readings on personal identity theory in a collection ideal for students, philosophers, and all other interested readers. The volume begins with a detailed introductory historical essay by the editors, which traces the evolution of personal identity theory in the West from classical Greece to the twentieth century. It also describes how, in the early 1970s, philosophers shifted their attention from the 'internal relations' view of personal identity to an 'external relations' view that explores, among other considerations, what matters in survival.
The essays that follow are delineated by this twentieth-century philosophical shift. The first section features seminal papers by such luminaries as Bernard Williams, Derek Parfit, Robert Nozick, and David Lewis. These are the very scholars that were involved in initiating the revolution in personal identity theory. The second section features papers by Christine Korsgaard, Peter Unger, Ernest Sosa, Raymond Martin, Marya Schechtman, Mark Johnston, and Derek Parfit that focus primarily on the new question of survival. Finally, a recent paper on animalism by Eric Olson and one on the self by Galen Strawson indicate new directions in which further discussion might continue.
‘This volume gathers together important essays from two generations of debate concerning the problem of personal identity. Does identity matter as much as survival? Is survival based on psychological continuity or on the animal body? Does the self last through a lifetime, or for much shorter periods of time? Should ethical issues about personhood constrain our metaphysical conceptions of the person? The editors provide a historical framework that places all of these questions in clear perspective.’ Shaun Gallagher, Canisius College, Buffalo, New York
‘A balanced and stimulating anthology, capped by a valuable historical survey of the issues. It's a natural for either primary or secondary class readings.’ Stephen Braude, University of Maryland Baltimore County
‘This volume is a balanced collection of important contemporary essays on personal identity. The editors’ detailed historical overview provides a useful context for the essays. Overall, the book will be an excellent text for graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses, as well as a convenient resource for professional philosophers.’ Lynne Rudder Baker, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
brings together the most important readings on personal identity theory.
- Brings together 13 of the most important readings on personal identity theory.
- Includes a detailed introductory historical essay, tracing the origins of personal identity theory.
- Features essays by David Lewis, Bernard Williams, Derek Parfit, and Robert Nozick.
- Describes the revolutionary shift from the -internal relations- view of personal identity to the -external relations- view.
- Includes a discussion on the controversial topic of animalism.
- Collectively offers a comprehensive introduction to the field.
Personal Identity brings together the most important readings on personal identity theory.
About the Author
is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Union College. He previously taught at the University of Maryland, College Park where he is now Emeritus Professor. His books include The Past Within Us
(1989) and Self-Concern: An Experiential Approach to What Matters in Survival
John Barresi is Professor of Psychology at Dalhousie University. In collaboration with Raymond Martin, he has co-authored Naturalization of the Soul: Self and Personal Identity in the Eighteenth Century (2000).
Table of Contents
Introduction: Personal Identity & What Matters in Survival: A Historical Overview: Raymond Martin (University of Maryland at College Park) and John Barresi (Dalhousie University).
1. The Self and the Future: Bernard Williams (All Souls, Oxford University).
2. Personal Identity through Time: Robert Nozick (Harvard University).
3. Why Our Identity is Not What Matters: Derek Parfit (All Souls, Oxford University).
4. Survival and Identity and Postscripts: David Lewis (Princeton University).
5. Personal Identity and the Unity of Agency: A Kantian Response to Parfit: Christine Korsgaard (Harvard University).
6. Fission and the Focus of One's Life: Peter Unger (New York University).
7. Surviving Matters: Ernest Sosa (Brown University).
8. Fission Rejuvenation: Raymond Martin (University of Maryland, College Park).
9. Empathic Access: The Missing Ingredient in Personal Identity: Marya Schechtman (University of Illinois at Chicago).
10. Human Concerns Without Superlative Selves: Mark Johnston (Princeton University).
11. The Unimportance of Identity: Derek Parfit (All Souls, Oxford University).
12. An Argument for Animalism: Eric Olson (Churchill College, Cambridge University).
13. The Self: Galen Strawson (Jesus College, Oxford University).
Books on Personal Identity since 1970.