Is Personal Identity in the Mind of the Beholder? Essay

Is Personal Identity in the Mind of the Beholder? Essay

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Personal identity is a very controversial aspect of life. Who are we? What defines us? According to John Locke, psychological continuity is what defines our personal identity. Locke discusses the case of the prince and the cobbler to help shape his theory. However, I absolutely disagree with Locke’s theory. Locke’s theory of personal identity creates many problems, such as the duplication problem. By reformulating Locke’s theory of personal identity, we still come across these problems that prove Locke’s theory false.
Locke’s argument for the memory criterion of personal identity, is that psychological continuity (the consciousness of past experiences) is the aspect that preservers our personal identity. Locke states, “For, since consciousness always accompanies thinking, and it is that which makes everyone to be what he calls self, and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, and this alone consists personal identity”(pg.374, 14th ed.). Locke views a distinction between a man (the body) and a person (the mind); therefore, if you are conscious of your past memories, your consciousness can be transferred from one body to another and personal identity follows. Locke creates the case in which the soul of the prince (with all prince consciousness) is transferred to the body of the cobbler (cobbler’s soul has departed). The prince still considers himself a prince, even though he is in the cobbler’s body. Lock’s theory states that the person in the cobbler’s body is the prince; therefore, the cobbler is guilty of all princes’ crimes. The cobbler is psychologically continuous with the prince, which is essential to the punishment of a wrongdoer. Locke formally states his theory: P1 and P2 a...

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...into body A and B…) will still face the duplication problem, because A and B can never be the same person as the officer (5th premise). A and B will always be two numerically different people. Parfit’s alternative fails, another alternative we can consider is the duplication problem “assumes” personal identity holds between person A (original person), B, and C. In this alternative, we will still have B is numerically identical to C. This assumption is still unsuccessful. The only way to prove Locke’s theory is correct is iff, personal identity is said to never be numerically identical. Thus, the duplication problem never destroys personal identity. But if this were the case of personal identity, then this means my baby pictures are numerically distinct from me. This is obviously false; therefore, there are no alternatives to Locke’s theory and it is proven false.

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