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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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The Expanded Practical and the Problem of Multiplicity

The Expanded Practical and the Problem of Multiplicity

(p.68) 3 The Expanded Practical and the Problem of Multiplicity
Staying Alive

Marya Schechtman

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the question of which practical considerations we should include in our investigation of the conditions of personal identity. Using the work of Hilde Lindemann I argue for the need to expand our conception of the practical importance of personal identity beyond the forensic concerns we inherit from Locke. The notion of persons as forensic units is thus transformed into a conception of persons as individual loci of practical interaction to which the whole set of practical interests and concerns associated with personhood are appropriately directed, or “basic practical units.” Given the wide range of practical interests we have in persons, however, it is not immediately evident how to define a single locus that is an inherently appropriate target of all of these interests, at least if the designation “appropriate” is to have any bite. The chapter concludes by describing this challenge, which I call the “problem of multiplicity.”

Keywords:   basic practical unit, forensic unit, Lindemann, personhood, personal identity, problem of multiplicity

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