• Laurance J. Splitter


Identity in its proper home and place (specifically mathematics and logic, with some conceptual extensions), is one of those juicy concepts ripe for philosophical reflection and deliberation. This is because it satisfies what I term the “3Cs”: identity is central to ways in which we understand and experience the world (5 year olds learn about the “=” sign, largely because not much mathematics can proceed without it; and we often need to know when objects are identical or the same, particularly when perceived at different times); sufficiently common (familiar) to have generated a broad consensus concerning its ordinary linguistic use (i.e. we know how to use the term “identity” or “=”); yet contestable just because its meaning is not clear, and its various interpretations have been the subject of ongoing dispute among scholars for whom conceptual clarity is a matter of considerable importance (chiefly, philosophers). This introductory chapter lays down the path I intend to tread as I seek to provide such clarification and, along the way, expose some woolly thinking about how “identity” is interpreted in the social sciences.


Personal Identity Natural Kind Moral Status Individual Person Actual Identity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Davidson, D. (2001a). Essays on actions and events (2nd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Davidson, D. (2001b). Subjective, intersubjective, objective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hansen, D. (2010). Cosmopolitanism and education: A view from the ground. Teachers College Record, 112(1), 1–30.Google Scholar
  4. Hayes, C. (2012). Identity politics. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved from
  5. Noonan, H., & Curtis, B. (2014). Identity. In E. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved from
  6. Olson, E. (1997). The human animal: Personal identity without psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Olson, E. (2007). What are we?: A study in personal ontology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Splitter, L. (1982). Natural kinds and biological species (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Oxford, Oxford.Google Scholar
  9. Splitter, L. (2000). Concepts, communities and the tools of good thinking. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines, 19(2), 11–26.Google Scholar
  10. Splitter, L. (2003). Transforming how teachers teach and how children learn. Critical and Creative Thinking: The Australasian Journal of Philosophy for Children, 11(2), 40–56.Google Scholar
  11. Strawson, P. (1959). Individuals: An essay in descriptive metaphysics. London: University Paperbacks.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wiggins, D. (2001). Sameness and substance renewed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurance J. Splitter
    • 1
  1. 1.Hong Kong Institute of EducationNew TerritoriesHong Kong SAR

Personalised recommendations