Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

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

Topics: Metaphysics
Keywords: Personal identity, Psychological reductionism, Scepticism


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 and rejected.

According to a contemporary theory of personal identity known as ‘psychological reductionism’, the belief that we are each a separately existing self or subject of experiences, something that exists over and above any bodily continuity and/or series of experiences, is held to be unjustified, and we are recommended to reduce the conception of our identity over time by jettisoning this belief.


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