N-Continuity as a Part of Folk-Psychology. The Link between Personal Identity and the Identities of Persons
The main idea for which I have argued in the foregoing four chapters is the following: The connections between mental states that are constitutive of the kind of psychological continuity that can function as a criterion of personal identity must be conceived—briefly put—in terms of a diachronic holism of mental contents (see Chapter 5, Section 2) rather than in terms of overlapping causal connections between the substrata of qualitatively similar states. Therefore, as far as psychological continuity is concerned, mental states ought to be identified and individuated in terms of their contents rather than their substrata. Only thus can we grant the narrative, process-like succession of mental states and the intimate relation between psychological continuity and embodiment in a physical world the relevance that is their philosophical due.
KeywordsMental State Personal Identity Propositional Content Empirical Adequacy Career Change
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- 1.Of course there is the possibility of contradictory verbal behaviour. But it is quite clear that we cannot—indeed would not know how to—ascribe meaning to a persons utterance “I believe that p and I believe also that -,p.” Google Scholar
- 2.The Humean philosopher of motivation would cast this addition in terms of the strengths of the desires by means of which beliefs are turned into action. I have no serious objections against this view. However, since I do not want to commit myself to a Humean theory of motivation and since a characterisation of the addition at issue in terms of weights better allows me to make the connection between personal identity and the identities of persons later on (Section 5), I shall continue to use the weight-terminology.Google Scholar