Locke on Diachronic Identity‐Judgements

Jonathan Bennett

in Learning from Six Philosophers Volume 2

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780198250920
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597060 | DOI:

Series: Learning from Six Philosophers (2 Volumes)

 Locke on Diachronic Identity‐Judgements

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  • History of Western Philosophy


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Locke's great chapter on identity and diversity starts with an account of what it is for a single atom to last through time, then a single mass of matter, a single organism (including a single man), and finally a single person. The core of personal identity, he says, lies in a connectedness of ‘consciousness’, which seems to consist mainly in memory‐links. His conditions for identity are in one way too strong, in another too weak; but the account is enormously instructive. So is his thesis that person is a forensic concept, and that it would be, though possible, unjust for God to allow one person to be constituted successively out of several substances.

Keywords: forensic; identity; Locke; person; personal identity; personhood; substance

Chapter.  11821 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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