Chapter

THE RATIONAL INSIGNIFICANCE OF IDENTITY AND CONTINUITY

Ingmar Persson

in The Retreat of Reason

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780199276905
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603198 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199276900.003.0024
 							THE RATIONAL INSIGNIFICANCE OF IDENTITY AND CONTINUITY

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If we should endorse a factual nihilism to the effect that there is no defensible account of our identity, it follows that we should also endorse an evaluative nihilism to the effect that the bias towards oneself, i.e., the special concern and liking for a being for the reason that it is identical to oneself, is not rationally justifiable. This chapter argues that the bias towards oneself could not be based on the notion of personal identity, even if animalism or psychologism were correct by appealing to thought-experiments in which your body is radically disintegrated but an exactly similar copy of you is created a moment later out of different constituents. The replica would not be you on any plausible theory of personal identity, but it would seem to be rational to be as much concerned about it as about your future self. It has been objected that this could not be rational, since you could not anticipate having the experiences of this replica in the same intimate way as you could anticipate having your own future experiences. This objection is however shown to be unfounded by an analysis of anticipation of experiences as an act of imaginging having the experiences of a subject which could be distinct from yourself.

Keywords: animalism; bias towards oneself; nihilism; personal identity; psychologism; self-concern

Chapter.  8123 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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