Responsibility and Personal Identity

  • Ton van den Beld
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 11)


A theory of personal identity over time relevant to questions of responsibility for past actions should be a psychological theory because of the mind impregnated character of human actions. Psychological theories, however, are generally hard-pressed for delivering a strong conception of personal identity. The best they can do is to provide a notion of identity as connectedness and continuity of mental contents over time. This can be accounted for in terms of causal connections in and through the brain. But such connectedness should at least be complemented by narrative connectedness and continuity. The main point of the paper is that a fundamental break in a life’s narrative indicates the birth of a new self — a new person — numerically distinct from the person before the break.

Key Words

conversion Karla Faye Tucker moral and legal responsibility narrative theory personal identity over time psychological theory the bodily criterion 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

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  • Ton van den Beld

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