Personal identity and human animals : a new history and theory
The contemporary personal identity debate has divided into two entrenched positions. One supports the supposedly naive and unpopular Bodily Criterion (the view that personal identity requires physical continuity). The other school is the Psychological Criterion (the view that personal identity requires psychological continuity). This has acquired the status of virtual orthodoxy. The British Empiricists, John Locke and David Hume, are both supposed to give historical weight to this orthodoxy. This thesis argues this is a dramatic misrepresentation of history. Locke is supposed to found the personal identity debate in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, arguing that personal identity is sameness of consciousness. It is argued that Locke in fact responds to a prevalent Cartesian View, called here the Compositional Account. The Compositional Account is the belief that a Human Being is composed of a Mind and a Body. Hume, in responding to Locke, is also responding to the Compositional Account. In opposition to widely established readings both philosophers are argued to be highly sympathetic to the Compositional Account. Chapter 1 establishes Descartes' version of the Compositional Account and explains why Descartes needs no philosophical treatment of personal identity. These problems emerge only for the Empiricists, Locke and Hume. Locke's sympathies for the Compositional Account are established in Chapter 2, drawing on material prior to the Essay and normally uncited passages in the Essay. Chapter 3 argues that Hume presumed the Compositional Account in his Treatise Concerning Human Nature. This is argued to explain Hume's famous later recantation of his theory. The thesis concludes by sketching a role for the Compositional Account in contemporary debate. The Compositional Account is argued to give strong support to a recently developed position known as Animalism. This provides the conceptual materials to move beyond the orthodox dichotomy between the Bodily Criterion and the Psychological Criterion.