Essay Personal Identity

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The two positions of personal identity over-time consider whether we are ‘tracking persons’ or ‘human beings’. Through analysing Locke’s account of personal identity and his definition of a ‘person’, the first side of this argument will be explained. However in opposition to Locke’s theory, the second position that considers us as ‘human beings’ will also be assessed, as advocated by animalists such as Olson. In response to this examples of cases such as amnesia will also be taken into consideration and how Parfait’s psychological continuity theory resolves prior objections to Locke’s argument made by Butler and Reid. The conclusion reached will show support towards this new Lockean theory of personal identity due to psychological…show more content…
The first objection by Reid, is known as The Gallant Officer, and gives the story of a boy (or X) who stole apples from an orchard and later became a “brave ensign” (or Y), winning a major battle. In his later years, this same man became a general or (Z). The brave ensign remembers stealing the apples as a boy and yet the general does not. However in accord with Locke’s theory, this would mean that the general is not the same person as the boy. If X = Y and Y = Z, it is assumed that X must = Z although Locke’s theory has denied this. In discussions about personal identity it is also important to mention amnesia cases. Locke’s theory does not account for those who may have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or even fetuses, children or the severely mentally disabled . According to Locke, these human beings do not fit the criteria for a person. Derik Parfit corrected this error in Locke’s theory by creating psychological continuity theory. With this improved theory on the original memory criterion , as stated by Parfit: “We shall then claim, what Locke denied, that a person continues to exist even if he suffers from complete amnesia” Parfit’s theory insists that a human being is one and the same person at T1 as at T2, iff their memories overlap with those from T1. Using Reid’s example again, the boy’s memories
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