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Unformatted text preview: October 23, 2012: Personal Identity (cont.) Focus: Should we care that much about personal identity? What's the relationship between “You on Thursday” and “You now”? Is it one of numerical identity? Or is it something else? Parfit's double target in “Personal Identity”: • The question of personal identity must have an answer. • The question of personal identity needs to have an answer for otherwise we cannot answer certain important questions (such as questions about matters of survival, memory, and responsibility) • Main goal: show that although certain questions do presuppose a question about personal identity, “they can be freed of this presupposition. And when they are, the question about identity has no importance.” (4) Case 1: Extreme cosmetic surgery • Want a slimmer body – take your brain out of your old body and put it in a new body • Parfit's response: “We suppose that my brain is transplanted into someone else's body, and that the resulting person has my character and apparent memories of my life. Most of us would agree, after thought, that the resulting person is me. I shall here assume such agreement” (4-5) • Psychological continuity = personal identity Case 2: Fission • Split your brain into two hemispheres – plant half of the brain in body A and the other half in body B • What happens to you? ◦ You don't survive ◦ You survive as either A or B ◦ You survive as both A and B • Parfit says none of them are sufficient answers ◦ Problems with (1) – You don't survive ▪ If only half of your brain was destroyed and the other half was transplanted into someone else's body, then you would have survived ▪ But how is it possible for you not to survive if both of your hemispheres were successfully transplanted? • Cannot be numerically identical ◦ Problems with (2) – You survive as either A or B ▪ If I survive as A, then why don't I also survive as B? Or if I survive as B, why don't I also survive as A? ◦ Problems with (3) – You survive as both A and B ▪ Initial reaction: Cannot be the case, because if “survival” means “identity”, then I cannot be identical to two persons. • Transitivity issue ▪ Response: A and B are not two people. They are instead one person: two bodies that share a brain. They are something akin to a two-headed monster. ▪ “Suppose that the bridge between my hemispheres is brought under my voluntary control. This would enable me to disconnect my hemispheres as easily as if I were blinking. By doing this I would divide my mind. And we can suppose that when my mind is divided I can, in each half, brig about reunion.” (6) ▪ Can this case provide support for possibility (3)?...
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