Finding ourselves : thought-experiments and personal identity

 

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dc.contributor.author Beck, Simon en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2015-07-14T08:39:51Z
dc.date.available 2015-07-14T08:39:51Z
dc.date.issued 1994 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Beck, S. 1994. Finding ourselves : thought-experiments and personal identity. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/13412
dc.description Summary in English.~Photocopy of typescript.~Bibliography: leaves 202-205. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract The central concern of this thesis is with the role thought-experiments play in the debate about personal identity, especially with the question of what role they should play. The thesis is divided into two parts. The first part is a defence of the use of thought-experiments against a number of influential and potentially damaging indictments of it. Some of the arguments discussed are directed at specific experiments or a specific kind of experiment, but all have implications which extend to the method in general. The thrust of my response to these arguments is that even if some objections to thought-experiments are strong enough to make us more cautious about how we use them, none of them is strong enough to require the general abandonment of the method of thought-experiment in the context of the personal identity debate. The aim of the second part is to find an answer to the question of what it is that thought-experiments can do, given that there is no prior case ruling them out altogether. The strategy is to reach an answer by a close examination of some prominent examples of thought-experiments in the literature. In the nature of my topic, there are two issues here. One is methodological, about what one can expect from a thought-experiment; the other is the substantive one as to what thought-experiments can really establish about the nature of personal identity. With regard to the methodological issue, two basic kinds of potentially informative thought-experiment emerge. There are those which serve to support or undermine a theory by revealing the relative importance of the various principles of classification which are implicit in our use of the concepts of person and personal identity. There are also those which function to show that a theory suffers from internal inconsistencies or that it has unacceptable consequences. In the process of investigating how thought-experiments can work, I argue that one view of personal identity receives stronger support from them than any of its rivals. This is a non-reductionist view which holds that while personal identity can be analysed in terms of psychological continuity, it cannot be reduced in the standardly accepted sense of that term. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other Philosophy en_ZA
dc.title Finding ourselves : thought-experiments and personal identity en_ZA
dc.type Doctoral Thesis
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Humanities en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Department of Philosophy en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral
dc.type.qualificationname PhD en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image
dc.identifier.apacitation Beck, S. (1994). <i>Finding ourselves : thought-experiments and personal identity</i>. (Thesis). University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Department of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11427/13412 en_ZA
dc.identifier.chicagocitation Beck, Simon. <i>"Finding ourselves : thought-experiments and personal identity."</i> Thesis., University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Department of Philosophy, 1994. http://hdl.handle.net/11427/13412 en_ZA
dc.identifier.vancouvercitation Beck S. Finding ourselves : thought-experiments and personal identity. [Thesis]. University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,Department of Philosophy, 1994 [cited yyyy month dd]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/11427/13412 en_ZA
dc.identifier.ris TY - Thesis / Dissertation AU - Beck, Simon AB - The central concern of this thesis is with the role thought-experiments play in the debate about personal identity, especially with the question of what role they should play. The thesis is divided into two parts. The first part is a defence of the use of thought-experiments against a number of influential and potentially damaging indictments of it. Some of the arguments discussed are directed at specific experiments or a specific kind of experiment, but all have implications which extend to the method in general. The thrust of my response to these arguments is that even if some objections to thought-experiments are strong enough to make us more cautious about how we use them, none of them is strong enough to require the general abandonment of the method of thought-experiment in the context of the personal identity debate. The aim of the second part is to find an answer to the question of what it is that thought-experiments can do, given that there is no prior case ruling them out altogether. The strategy is to reach an answer by a close examination of some prominent examples of thought-experiments in the literature. In the nature of my topic, there are two issues here. One is methodological, about what one can expect from a thought-experiment; the other is the substantive one as to what thought-experiments can really establish about the nature of personal identity. With regard to the methodological issue, two basic kinds of potentially informative thought-experiment emerge. There are those which serve to support or undermine a theory by revealing the relative importance of the various principles of classification which are implicit in our use of the concepts of person and personal identity. There are also those which function to show that a theory suffers from internal inconsistencies or that it has unacceptable consequences. In the process of investigating how thought-experiments can work, I argue that one view of personal identity receives stronger support from them than any of its rivals. This is a non-reductionist view which holds that while personal identity can be analysed in terms of psychological continuity, it cannot be reduced in the standardly accepted sense of that term. DA - 1994 DB - OpenUCT DP - University of Cape Town LK - https://open.uct.ac.za PB - University of Cape Town PY - 1994 T1 - Finding ourselves : thought-experiments and personal identity TI - Finding ourselves : thought-experiments and personal identity UR - http://hdl.handle.net/11427/13412 ER - en_ZA


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