Mind and Reality

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A course at the University of Warwick.

Lecture 14

Date given: Wednesday 25th November 2020

This is the youtube page for Lecture 14. In case you prefer, I have also put a page with the videos on microsoft stream here. Or, if you prefer, you can see the slides with no audio or video here.

Biological Continuity

According to biological continuity views of personal identity, necessarily, a person existing at one time is a thing existing at another time if and only if the first mentioned person’s biological organism is continuous with the second thing’s biological organism.

Reading (optional): Olson, E. T. (1997). The human animal: Personal identity without psychology. Oxford Uni- versity Press, Oxford.

--- do 2 micro tasks for this unit

Does Identity Matter?

If ‘the relations of practical concerns that typically go along with our identity through time are closely connected with psychological continuity [...], then the Biological Approach does have an interesting ethical consequence, namely that those practical relations are not necessarily connected with numerical identity’ (Olson, 1997 p. 70).

Reading (optional): Olson, E. T. (1997). The human animal: Personal identity without psychology. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Psychological Continuity and Fission

If you could be psychologically continuous with two distinct future individuals (that is, if fission is possible), then psychological continuity views of personal identity cannot be correct.

Reading (optional): Shoemaker, D. (2019). Personal Identity and Ethics. In Zalta, E. N., editor, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, winter 2019 edition.


Lewis was right, ‘Identity is utterly simple and unproblematic’. Or so I claim. But maybe you can show this is wrong.

Reading (optional): (hard) Sider, T. (2001). Criteria of Personal Identity and the Limits of Conceptual Analysis. Nouˆs, 35(s15):189–209