Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy


Parfit’s Metaphysics and What Matters in Survival

Issue: Issue 09 • Author/s: Eric Olson
Topics: Metaphysics

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 things. But the capacious ontology makes trouble for Parfit: it weakens his claim about the unimportance of identity and undermines…

Why Should One Care About One’s Own Future?

Issue: Issue 09 • Author/s: Julien Bugnon, Martine Nida-Rümelin
Topics: Metaphysics

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 of a special kind (de se subject-relative reasons) to avoid having such experiences in the future. Our argument makes crucial…

Survival by Redescription: Parfit on Consolation and Death

Issue: Issue 09 • Author/s: Patrik Hummel
Topics: Metaphysics

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 could thus be bad even if R-relatedness matters and some degree of it is gets preserved. Second, I argue that…

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

Issue: Issue 09 • Author/s: Andrew Ward
Topics: Metaphysics

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.

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

Issue: Issue 09 • Author/s: Chris Lay
Topics: Metaphysics

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 are distinguished from one another by what is acceptable as the cause of continuity on each. However, there appear to…

Choosing Who Lives our Life

Issue: Issue 09 • Author/s: Luca Stroppa
Topics: 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 future people, and Same Number Choices, that affect only future people’s identity. Parfit underlines how, in Different Number Choices, it…