Trivial Personal Differences

  • Tove Finnestad

Abstract

In Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit argues that personal identity is indeterminate and that identity is not what matters in personal survival. Parfit argues that traditional views of personal identity have counterintuitive consequences and that they violate a plausible requirement, suggested by Bernard Williams, that must be met by any acceptable criterion of identity. Parfit argues that, unlike traditional determinate views of personal identity, his view succeeds in accommodating intuitions and in meeting (an analogue to) Williams' requirement. I argue that Parfit's view has more counterintuitive consequences than do the traditional views of identity. Though the traditional views do seem to violate Williams' requirement, Parfit's view fares no better. In fact, it seems that any theory of personal survival that appeals to connections that may hold to a greater or lesser extent will fail to meet the relevant requirement. This is an important general point, since the requirement is a plausible one.
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eISSN: 0556-8641