Personal Identity, Numerical and Qualitative

Black, Oliver (2002) Personal Identity, Numerical and Qualitative. In: UNSPECIFIED Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, pp. 31-32.


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In the analytic tradition, "the problem of personal identity" is usually taken to mean a question of numerical identity over time: what makes X at one time the same person as Y at another? But the title also fits a set of questions - at least as interesting - which concern what may be called qualitative identity. A person"s qualitative identity comprises his defining properties (DPs): these are properties that he must mention in a full answer to the question "Who am I?", taken in a special sense which can be discerned by contrast with the ordinary sense of the third-person "Who is X?" If you and I are watching a ceremony and I, pointing to one of the participants, ask "Who is she?", my purpose is likely to be to find out that person"s role in the ceremony: the question and the appropriate answer are relative to my purpose, which is set by the context. In the sense relevant to DPs, "Who am I?" is not thus relative to context and purpose: rather, in answering the question I identify properties of mine that determine my purposes. There is, however, no simple asymmetry between the first-person and the third-person questions; the third-person question can, although it rarely does, take this sense, and conversely the first-person question can be relative to purpose and context, as for example where roles in a game are being assigned and one of the players is unsure of his role. Nevertheless the special sense is more prominent in the first-person case.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Identity; numerical identity; definig properties; Mackie,J.
Subjects: Philosophie > Philosophische Disziplinen > Logik, analytische Philosophie
Philosophie > Philosophische Journale, Kongresse, Vereinigungen > Wittgenstein Symposium Kirchberg, Pre-Proceedings > Kirchberg 2002
Philosophie > Philosophische Disziplinen > Allgemeine Ethik
Depositing User: Stefan Köstenbauer
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2006
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2011 18:51

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