Re: Personal Identity and Ethics

From: Stephen Paul King <>
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2009 16:38:23 -0500

Hi Stathis,

    A question : Is is incorrect of me to infer that the psychological
criterion of personal identity discussed in Shoemaker's book and, by your
statement below, used by a predominance of members of this list is one that
treats conscious self-awareness as an epiphenomena arrising from a Classical
system and that it is, at least tacitly, assumed that quantum effects have
no supervenience upon any notion of Consciousness?
    While I welcome the rejection of notion of "Souls" which are in
principle non-verifiable, could we be endulging in meaningless chatter about
computerizing consciousness if we do not first determen that consciousness
is a purely classical epiphenomena? After all we are repeatedly told that it
is the classical view of the Universe and all within it is a theory long ago

Kindest regards,


----- Original Message -----
From: "Stathis Papaioannou" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 8:01 AM
Subject: Re: [Fwd: NDPR David Shoemaker, Personal Identity and Ethics: A
Brief Introduction]

> 2009/2/20 Brent Meeker <> wrote:
>> Review of a book that may be of interest to the list.
>> Brent Meeker
>> -------- Original Message --------
>> Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
>> 2009-02-26 : View this Review Online
>> <> : View Other NDPR Reviews
>> <>
>> David Shoemaker, /Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction/,
>> Broadview Press, 2009, 296pp., $26.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781551118826.
>> *Reviewed by Amy Kind, Claremont McKenna College*
> Thank-you for alerting us to this book. I'll pick out just one passage
> from the review for comment:
>> Though Shoemaker argues that the last three views suffer from serious
>> problems that prevent them from being plausible accounts of our identity
>> over time, he offers a different sort of argument against the Soul
>> Criterion: There are good practical reasons to "insist on a tight
>> connection between the nature of personal identity and our practical
>> concerns, and thus reject any theory of personal identity -- like the
>> Soul Criterion -- that denies this connection." (33) Even if souls
>> exist, we lack any kind of epistemic access to them; rather, we
>> reidentify individuals in terms of their bodies and/or their
>> psychologies. Thus, souls are irrelevant to the practical issues under
>> consideration, and this irrelevance is taken to justify the rejection of
>> the Soul Criterion.
> Predominantly on this list we use the psychological criterion of
> personal identity, originated by Locke and developed using various SF
> thought experiments by Derek Parfit. This criterion is assumed true if
> you are to agree to teleportation or replacement of your brain with a
> functionally equivalent electronic analogue, and is contrasted with
> non-reductionist theories involving the existence of a soul. If I have
> a soul, it might not be transferred in the copying process even though
> the copy acts the same as the original. I can understand this if the
> copy is a philosophical zombie for lack of a soul, but it seems that
> according to Shoemaker's usage the soul is not identical with the mind
> or consciousness. This leaves open the possibility that my copy might
> both behave *and* think the same way I do but still not be the same
> person. But if that is so, then as Shoemaker says, that would make the
> soul irrelevant.
> --
> Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Fri Feb 20 2009 - 16:38:21 PST

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