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Staying AlivePersonal Identity, Practical Concerns, and the Unity of a Life$
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Marya Schechtman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199684878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684878.001.0001

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Locke and the Psychological Continuity Theorists

Locke and the Psychological Continuity Theorists

(p.10) 1 Locke and the Psychological Continuity Theorists
Staying Alive

Marya Schechtman

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses a discussion of John Locke and of present-day psychological continuity theories to introduce a new way of understanding the relation between personal identity and practical concerns. Locke offers one of the most famous and influential accounts of personhood and personal identity, defining “person” as a “forensic term.” He is usually taken to hold the view that judgments of identity should directly coincide with forensic judgments. This chapter argues that he can be read as employing a more complicated understanding of the connection between these two types of judgments. The significance of this feature of Locke’s account is demonstrated by looking at present-day psychological continuity theories which lose sight of his sophisticated picture of the relation between personal identity and the practical, making them vulnerable to a serious objection, “the argument from the extreme claim.”

Keywords:   extreme claim, Locke, personhood, personal identity, psychological continuity theory

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