Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

John Perry in Issue 9

Time, Fission, and Personal Identity


I argue that the account I gave of Derek Parfit’s dividing self-case in “Can the Self Divide?” does not depend on a dubious four-dimensionalist metaphysics as claimed by Eric Olson (2006). I explain my metaphysics of time, and then re-describe my solution in “Can the Self Divide?” comparing it to treatments of the dividing selves by Parfit and Lewis.

Eric Olson in Issue 9

Parfit’s Metaphysics and What Matters in Survival


Derek Parfit takes the central principle of his discussions of personal identity to be “reductionism”: that our existence and persistence are not basic facts, but consist in something else. A number of striking claims, including the famous unimportance of identity, are supposed to follow from it. But they don’t follow. The main principle in Parfit’s arguments is something far more contentious that is never mentioned: a capacious ontology of material…

Julien Bugnon, Martine Nida-Rümelin in Issue 9

Why Should One Care About One’s Own Future?


Our natural attitude is to care about the fate of a future person in a special manner once we know that this person is none other than ourselves. In the present paper, we defend the rationality of that attitude against Parfit’s famous contrary claim that ‘identity does not matter’. We argue that it is intrinsically bad for a conscious subject to have negative experiences, and that one therefore has reasons…

Patrik Hummel in Issue 9

Survival by Redescription: Parfit on Consolation and Death


Parfit argues that if we come to believe his theory of personal identity, we should care differently about the future. Amongst others, we can redescribe death in ways that make it seem less bad. I consider three challenges to his reasoning. First, according to the Argument from Above, a fact, event, or state of affairs can be good or bad independently of the value or disvalue of its constituents. Death…

Simon Beard, Patrick Kaczmarek in Issue 9

On the Wrongness of Human Extinction


In recent papers, Elizabeth Finneron-Burns and Johann Frick have both argued that it is not a wrong-making feature of human extinction that it would cause many potential people with lives worth living never to be born, and hence that causing human extinction would be, in at least one way, less wrong than many have thought. In making these arguments, both assume that merely possible future people cannot be harmed by…

Michele Di Francesco, Massimo Marraffa, Alfredo Paternoster in Issue 9

From Persons to Selfing: Some Developments of Parfit’s Legacy

Metaphysics, Philosophy of mind

In this paper we shall discuss some aspects of Parfit’s thought in connection with what we regard as a promising, quasi-naturalist approach to the self. The focus is not so much on the concept of person (considered as the starting point of a metaphysics of person), which—for our present purposes—we take essentially to be a forensic notion; our point is, rather, that certain ideas developed by Parfit in Reasons and…

Andrew Ward in Issue 9

The Survival of Persons: A Reply to Parfit’s Psychological Reductionism


The psychological reductionist claims that what is important to our survival just consists in a series of causally related experiences. Our belief in a separately existing subject of experiences is held to be unjustified. In reply, it is contended that we need to distinguish between persons (continuing subjects of experience) and any related series of experiences (their lives). A number of objections to this conception of a person are considered…

Chris Lay in Issue 9

Why Parfit’s Psychological Criterion Does Not Work as a Personal Identity Theory (And How it Could)


On Parfit’s Psychological Criterion of personal identity, I persist as some future subject if we can trace a chain of overlapping mental state connections from me to that future subject. When two subjects are connected in this way, we can say that they are psychologically continuous. Parfit offers up three different versions of the Psychological Criterion in Reasons and Persons, and what he calls the Narrow, Wide, and Widest views…

Luca Stroppa in Issue 9

Choosing Who Lives our Life

Ethics, Metaphysics

The relationship between Parfit’s theory of Personal Identity and his research on Population Ethics is underexplored. In this paper I both examine this relationship and support the principle stating that it is moral to cause the greatest total wellbeing. Once introduced the basic concepts of Population Ethics and Parfit’s theory of Personal Identity, I report Parfit’s distinction between Different Number Choices, that affect both the number and the identity of…