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Can a person break a world record?


Abstract: Most philosophers in the analytical philosophy answer the question what personal identity is in psychological terms. Arguments for substantiating this view are mainly based on thought experiments of brain transfer cases and the like in which persons change brains. However, in these thought experiments the remaining part of the body plays only a passive part. In this paper I argue that the psychological approach of personal identity cannot be maintained, if the whole body is actively involved in the analysis, and that the body is an intrinsic part of what I am as a person.

Can a person break a world record?

Henk bij de Weg

1. The psychological approach of person and its critics

What makes a human1 person P2 at time t2 the same person as person P1 at time t1? Following Locke (1975), in contemporary analytical philosophy, this question is usually answered in psychological terms, to wit by specifying a psychological criterion that shows, when continuity or connectedness between P1 en P2 exists.2 The method for investigating such a criterion tends to consist in thought experiments in which brain transfer cases, brain state transfer cases, brain fission cases, brain state duplication cases, and the like3 are analysed. Despite the popularity of the psychological approach of personal identity through the years, several authors kept rejecting it. Some of the critics rejected a psychological approach in its entirety in favour of a biological or animalistic approach to the identity of human persons (e.g. Snowdon 1990 en 1991, Olson 1997, Mackie 1999 and van Inwagen 1990). Other philosophers have argued for a mixed physical-psychological or "hybrid" approach of personal identity (e.g. Unger 1990). However, what the critics of the psychological approach of personal identity do not do is asking themselves, whether in case of one or another kind of brain or mind transfer and the like a transfer of the person is possible.4 That after a brain or mind transfer etc. the mental life continues in the new body as if, for example, nothing of what is of importance for the psychology of the personality might have been left behind in the original body is supposed without discussion, just like that a transfer of the brain or mind etc. as such is possible. It is true that Olson, for one, directed himself explicitly against the so-called "Transplant Intuition",5 but he does not argue that in case of a brain6 transplant or a supposed mind transplant, the mental life is not transplanted, but that such a transplant is not different from a transplant of any other organ, like the heart or the liver or whichever you want. Just as we do not think that, when such an organ is transplanted, then also the person is moved to the new body, this does not happen either in the case of a brain or mind transplant (Olson 1997). Snowdon 1990 does mention the possibility that "in brain transplants too much is lost of what the particular person was (lost, because it requires the body which was left behind) to make it acceptable to think that the person (or the same self) remains" (99), but he does not want to press the point, apparently thinking that this claim cannot be supported (ibid.). When Mackie 1999 criticises the view that psychological continuity is necessary for personal identity, he does not discuss brain and mind transfers – not counting an oblique remark –, despite the central place that these transfers occupy in the discussion about personal identity. Van Inwagen 2001 expresses his objection to the possibility of brain (state) transfers, indeed, but he develops his criticism of the psychological continuity theory of personal identity from the idea that such transfers are possible and that the human person coincides with or is identical to the human brain or mind (cf. van Inwagen 1990). On the other hand, in his example of an emperor and a peasant changing bodies, Williams raises the question what this means for bodily characteristics like voice and facial expression. However, Williams does not elaborate the point and he concludes only that his example suggests "that the concept of bodily interchange cannot be taken for granted, and that there are even logical limits to what we should be prepared to say in this direction. What these limits are, cannot be foreseen...".7 Wilkes 1988 does point out the problematic character of brain and mind transfers as thought experiments. In my opinion the analysis is to the point but rather general. Therefore, I think that by and large her conclusion is not true that "we cannot extract philosophically interesting conclusions from fantastical thought experiments" (46). Just because these thought experiments are so fantastical, it is possible to show that the conclusions drawn from them fail, as will become clear in the "fantastical" thought experiment that will be treated in this paper. However, here I do not want to discuss brain transplant thought experiments etc. as such. I want to deal with the question what the meaning of the body and the relation between body and mind for personal identity is. Suppose that I remember having seen Paul Tergat 8 ten years ago participating in a track race and that I remember how impressed I was by his smoothness. Suppose then that I am running in the wood behind my house and that I feel how stiff I am now and that I remember how smooth I was ten years ago. Is there any difference between remembering what another person did in the past and what I myself did in the past, and does the answer on this question have any relation with what I am as a person? I think that we have to answer the first part of this question and therefore also the second part in a positive way.

By saying this, I get already ahead of what follows. As said, despite my criticism, I do not want to deal with the validity of brain transplant thought experiments etc. in the first place. My theme is the relation between mind, body and person. However, both things cannot be kept apart. So, I want to see the example that I am going to analyse as a counterexample in a double sense: as a counterexample against the one-sided 9 psychological approach to personal identity and by this as an example against the psychological continuity thesis and the "transplant intuition"; but also as an example against the rash way that the usual brain transplant thought experiments etc. abstract from the basic condition of the human existence: the body.

Here I do not want to defend an animalistic or a biological approach to personal identity in the sense that I as a person am identical with the animal that I am (Olson 1997; Snowdon 1991) or with my body (Thomson 1997). On the other hand, I direct myself also against the view that my identity is being determined by some form of psychological continuity or connectedness, with the implication that I as a person am not bound to my body and that I can survive without bodily surviving (maybe with the exception of my brain or a part of my brain) (e.g. Shoemaker 1963; Perry 1975b; Nozick 1981; Parfit 1984; Noonan 2003). Against this I want to defend the view that I am inextricably bound up with my body and that this body is inextricably bound up with what I am as a person. This being bound up does not only involve that the particular body that I have since the day that I was born, if not since before, is the carrier of the person that I am but also that my body is an intrinsic part of what I am as a person, just as my mind, my psychological side, is an intrinsic part of what I am as a person. There is no and there cannot be a Cartesian dualism that places the person opposite to the body. The one is integrated into the other. An approach of "person" like mine can be called "hybrid" (like for example Noonan 2003, 198-199 does), but I think that this label suggests too much that a person is made up of parts instead of that it is a (non-Cartesian) unity with aspects. I would rather call my concept of person "unitary". However, in this paper I do not want to take notice of the significance of the person for the body. Here I concentrate on the significance of the body and its characteristics for the person, as opposed to his or her mind and psychological characteristics, in line with the current contrast between, on the one hand, a physical, bodily or biological approach and, on the other hand, a psychological approach to the problem of personal identity in the analytical philosophy.10

2. Some objections to current transplant cases

Thought experiments that are the basis of a discussion about personal identity and related issues usually have the form that the brain of person A is transplanted to the body of person B (Shoemaker 1963, 23-25 is a classic11 example of this). Variations of this standard case are that the brains of A and B are switched (e.g. Perry 1975a), that the halves of A’s brain are transplanted into different bodies (e.g. Parfit 1984), that only the information of A’s brain is brought to B’s brain (after that first the information of B’s brain has been removed) (e.g. Williams 1973b), and so on.12 Parfit 1984 even goes that far that persons are copied and are "teletransported" to another place. Several authors have criticised this kind of thought experiments (e.g. Wilkes 1988, Johnston 1987). I do not want to repeat or summarise their arguments, but I want to restrict myself to a number of points that are immediately relevant to my counterexample. It is the essence of my objections that in the current thought experiments, the body plays only a passive part at most in the analysis of personal identity.

1) Since the publication of Locke’s An essay concerning human understanding in 1689, memory has been important in the argumentation in support of the psychological approach. Although memory is no longer seen as the only criterion of personal identity, it is still considered an important factor that determines our personal identity over time. However, in the examples that are used for the analysis of personal identity, an active physical involvement of the person having the memory in that which is remembered is absent, even if the memory is about activities that the person concerned has done himself or herself. Even more often a reference to concrete cases that are remembered is lacking and these are only implicit.13 Then, and this is the weak point of these examples, perhaps it can be said, after a brain transplant, that I remember that I did this or that, but can I say that it was I who did what I remember, if I had changed bodies and it was not my present body that had been performing the act but if it was explicitly my former body? After the brain transplant, I can say in a non-problematic that I remembered how impressed I had been ten years ago by Paul Tergat’s smooth way of running. However, can I also say that I remember how smooth I was ten years ago, if it was my former body that was so smooth and if my present body never has been smooth and if my present body has no talent for becoming smooth?

2) The point just formulated concerning the role of memory in thought experiments is new, as far as I know. However, it has some relation to another point of criticism on thought experiments, which has been formulated by several authors. According to this, as a rule reference is made to only certain events or episodes in the life of the individual concerned. However, as Strout puts it, "episodic memory is only a small part of the memory humans use. There are also a wide variety of implicit memories, i.e., memories of which we have no conscious awareness, but which nonetheless affect our behavior. Examples include motor skills ..., perceptual skills ... , priming effects, and many more. In addition, we all have a set of personality traits, habits, and quirks which make every person different from everyone else. These can change over time ... just as memories do" (Strout 2002. See e.g. also Noonan 2003, 9-11; Johnston 1987, 77). In my opinion, also these personality traits, habits, and quirks are based on a kind of non-experiential memory, and in a certain sense they themselves can also considered to be a kind of non-experiential memory.

3) In examples of brain transplants etc., usually no or only very scant information is given about the persons involved. Information that to my mind is certainly relevant in order to make the transplant successful and in order to be able to make meaningful statements about personal identity and the survival of the persons involved is lacking, both about the owner of the brain and about the receiver. In Shoemaker’s well-known example (1963, 23 ff.), we know only that one person is named Brown and the other one Robinson, and that they are men. In many later elaborations of the Brown-Robinson case by other authors, the sex of the persons is not even mentioned anymore (e.g. Thomson 1997). Or, to take another example, in a brain juvenation case by Perry (2002), we know only that the persons involved are called Brown, Jones and Smith, and nothing more. Even whether they are male or female remains unknown to us. Williams says at least before he treats a case where two persons, A and B, exchange bodies: "There are certain limitations, particularly with regard to character and mannerisms, to our ability to imagine such cases even in the most restricted sense of our being disposed to take the later performances of that body which was previously A’s as expressive of B’s character; if the previous A and B were extremely unlike one another both physically and psychologically, and if, say, in addition, they were of different sex, there might be grave difficulties in reading B’s dispositions in any possible performances of A’s body" (Williams 1973b, 46). Therefore, Williams takes A and B as being "sufficiently alike", when he describes his case (id., 46). However, by so doing, Williams passes over the question whether we need to involve psychological and physical characteristics in the analysis of personal identity instead of presenting them only as background information and keeping them constant as much as possible in order to make the case plausible. The assumption that A and B are sufficiently alike is also for Williams apparently a reason for ignoring the personal differences. But is it right (and now I do not refer only to Williams but also to the analysis of personal identity in general) to let the concrete physical and psychological characteristics of persons play no part in the analysis? For would it really make no difference whether the body of the donor of the brain or mind and the body of the receiver do or do not differ in physical characteristics like race and sex, but also in other characteristics of their physical structures? What if, for example, the donor of the brain is an old white man, who is not a sport and who is not very intelligent, while the receiver is a black woman of just 20 years old, a top-class athlete, who is studying at a university? Williams states, as we have seen, that the donor and the receiver must be sufficiently alike, but perhaps it is so that the analyses of cases with very different persons tell us more about personal identity than case analyses in which big differences are supposed to be absent, if at least these differences are considered in the analysis.

3. A case analysis

Now I want to analyse a brain transplant case, in which my points of criticism are taken into account. First, if memory is at least an important factor of personal identity, then we have to examine what the consequences for personal identity are, if the person in our example is explicitly actively involved in what he or she remembers. Second, memory must not only be understood to mean experiential or episodic memory but also implicit non-conscious forms of memory. Finally, the significance of the body and its characteristics must expressly be examined in the analysis of personal identity; the characteristics of the body must not only be used for merely typifying the person, as happened until now. In my analysis, I argue first that there is a close relation between some psychological memories and physical experiences of the body that "has" these memories and that the physical characteristics of the body are an essential part of what a person is. Then I show that it is not just having certain bodily characteristics that determines a person’s identity but that the body as such is essential to identity.

I said above that it would be useful for the analysis of personal identity to give the donor and the receiver of the brain or mind in a transplant case extremely different characteristics. However, I think that I can defend my point that the body and its characteristics are an integral part of the person by keeping the number of differences between donor and receiver small, on condition that they are extreme enough. Therefore, I want to suppose that the donor and the receiver are of the same age, sex and race, and that they are different in a few relevant aspects only. This is sufficient for making clear that the present analyses of brain transplant cases etc. fail. Introducing more variables with a different value for the donor and the receiver would make my point even stronger, but it would make the description and the analysis of the case more complex than would be necessary.

Let me take the case of long-distance runner John Brown whose brain has been transplanted into the head of Neil Robinson. John Brown is the winner of one of the 10,000m races for the World Cup. Moreover, he has won this race in a world record time. So John Brown is an extremely good long-distance runner. Or must I say he was? For when John Brown went back to his hotel after the race, his car was involved in an accident and John Brown died seriously wounded in a hospital in the operation room. The surgeon, a certain dr. Frankenstein, who is an expert in transplants and who now wanted to experiment with brain transplants, decides to put John Brown’s brain into the head of Neil Robinson, who is waiting for such an operation in another operation room in the same hospital, and who just died of a cerebral haemorrhage. Though Neil Robinson is of the same age as John Brown, in certain respects he is quite his opposite. He has never been interested in doing sports himself and he has never been a member of a sports club. The only sport he found interesting was chess.

Dr. Frankenstein is an ardent advocate of the psychological approach of personal identity, and he thinks that by transplanting the brain of John Brown into another body he can save a great sportsman for the world, because by so doing the person of John Brown will continue to exist, albeit not as John Brown but as John Brownson, the fusion of the brain of Brown and the body of Robinson. Then, Brownson will be the world record holder for the 10,000m. Anyway, that is what dr. Frankenstein thinks: for Brownson is the continuation of the person of Brown, even though he has the body of Robinson, and even though, for the reason that he has the body of Robinson, it will be difficult for some people to recognise him as being the person who became the new world record holder for the 10,000m in one of the races for the World Cup, because John Brownson does not look like John Brown. For is it not so, as dr. Frankenstein explains to his assistants, that you go where your mind goes and your mind goes with your brain? Or, in terms of the psychological approach: "P2 at t2 is the same person as P1 at t1 if and only if P2 at t2 is psychologically continuous with P1 at t1" (Noonan 2003, 11).14 Brownson is psychologically continuous with Brown and therefore Brownson is the world record holder for the 10,000m. And really, when Brownson wakes up after the operation, he replies "John Brown", when asked for his name. "He recognizes Brown’s wife and family (whom Robinson had never met), and is able to describe in detail events in Brown’s life, always describing them as events in his own life" (Shoemaker 1963, 24), like Brown’s winning his last race for the World Cup, a race that Robinson hadn’t seen, since he was in coma. "Of Robinson’s past life he evidences no knowledge at all" (ibid.).

Brownson recovers well from the operation. However, soon dr. Frankenstein gets the impression that something must have gone wrong. Of course, Brownson does not have Brown’s appearance, and therefore it takes sometimes much effort to convince other people that he really is the same person as the world record holder John Brown and not Neil Robinson, but usually dr. Frankenstein succeeds. Nevertheless, it seems that Brownson himself does not feel like being the world record holder for the 10,000m at all, although he feels being John Brown. Brownson remembers John Brown’s past experiences, feels sincerely being married to John Brown’s wife and so on; but although he remembers having participated in the World Cup race in which he has broken the world record, he does not feel that it was he himself who has run this race. Rationally Brownson knew that he always remembered during some time after the race how he felt during the race: the feeling that it went easy or just not. Or he still felt the final tempo increase by which he left the other runners behind; or that his legs were like lead, when he had trained too hard before the race. Moreover, often during the first days after a hard race he was quite stiff, especially after a 10,000m race. It should have been so that also now he would have had such pleasant and not so pleasant feelings, such experiences of running as such. However, he could not bring back anything like that. For him, it was like seeing the pictures of a race in which he did not take part, and it was as if not this body of him that had taken part in the race. This was the more so, because he had not been stiff at all.

But okay, Brownson has recovered from the operation, he feels healthy and there seems to be no reason why he might not run a good race again. So, some time after the operation, Brownson decides to resume his training. Why not? Psychologically he feels like taking up the training again and also physically he feels fit. Moreover, in the past, he had seen that many top-class sportsmen rather soon regained a high level, even after a serious accident, and that was also his experience in the past after an injury. However, not now, as soon turns out. In spite of intensive training, progress is not as was to be expected. He cannot do his workouts according to the standards used before after an injury. He simply cannot run his intervals with the required pace. Even more, it seems that his body does not remember anymore the patterns of the movements of all sorts of exercises. He had never experienced anything like that before after an injury. Was it not so that the body never forgot the patterns of movements once it had learned them? Before he switched to running, he had been a member of a skating club. Then he had not skated anymore for ten years, until he tried it again last year, when he had been injured, as an alternative kind of training, in order to keep fit a little bit. Well, his skating technique was not perfect but still good. Why then was it now so difficult for him to do even the simplest exercises in a technically perfect way after not having trained for only a few months? Even the way he ran was all but smooth but just very clumsy, as if his body had yet to learn how to run. Therefore, Brown decides to go to a sports doctor for a medical examination. A first examination shows that Brownson has no physical defects, that he is in good health and that he is again in relatively good condition. However, a follow-up examination shows that he has definitively not the body of a long-distance runner. Especially, the fibre type of his muscles is unsuitable and his bones are too heavy. The results of this examination are very different from an examination on John Brown some time ago. In brief, Brownson’s body resembles in no respect the body of a world record holder for the 10,000m! With this body it is impossible to run an in any way appealing time on the 10,000m, how much he would train. It is only now that Brownson is fully aware of having the body of another man. He studies Robinson’s past and it becomes clear to him why his movements are going so bad from a technical viewpoint: Robinson does not have any experience in sports at all. The body had never learned before the movements that went so clumsy, and therefore it could not "remember" them, and it did them for the first time. Then Brownson wonders whether he still can call himself the world record holder for the 10,000m: "Isn’t it so that the world record holder has died because the body that broke the world record has died?", he thinks. "For it was the time of the body that had been measured and not the time of my mind that guided the body when it passed the finishing line. If I had simply become older, then it would at least have been my body that had broken the world record, although it would not have been able to do it again. For this body has a historical continuity with the body that was once so fast. However, if my body had still been alive but if my brain had died, would my body then have remained the holder of the world record?" That is what Brown is thinking.

If the case just described is right, the conclusion seems to follow that not the person but only the body can break a world record. Breaking a world record is a physical performance in the first place, in spite of the psychological qualities that are also required for it. It is just that Brownson lacks the physical qualities required. Physically, Brownson is not the world record holder for the 10,000m and moreover he cannot be. However, as just said, psychological qualities are also required for breaking a world record. I think that nobody will deny that. Is it then so that we must conclude that the person of Brownson is the world record holder in psychological respect and that the dead body of John Brown is the world record holder in physical respect? However, suppose that a brain change had taken place between Brown and Robinson and suppose that Neil Brown (= Brown’s body with Robinson’s brain) was still alive, then we would have the absurd situation that Neil Brown was the physical world record holder, while John Brownson was the psychological world record holder. Who is then the continuation of John Brown?

In the light of this absurd consequence, can we still maintain that a person can break a world record in a race for runners? For we do not say that the one whose brain or mind first passes the finishing line is the winner, and the finishing time is not measured when the person, brain or mind crosses the line, but it is the crossing of the line by the front of the chest that counts. Paraphrasing the psychological approach, we can say that the person goes where the mind goes, and that the mind goes where the brain goes (cf. above). However, as said, it is not the head with the brain but the chest that counts in order to determine who is the winner. Now suppose that in a certain race Paul Tergat crosses the finishing line first with his head, while Haile Gebrselassie crosses the line first with the front of his chest, then it is Haile Gebrselassie who counts as the winner. So, if a person is a psychological entity, then it is the body of Haile Gebrselassie that wins the race and not the person of Paul Tergat, although it is the latter that passes the finish first!15 Not a person but only a body can break a world record, if the psychological approach is right.

I think that the result that a person cannot break a world record is odd to say the least. I think that my case analysis shows that the psychological approach of personal identity and personal continuity is not tenable. In a certain sense, this brings me to the same conclusion as Williams in his "The Self and the Future" (Williams 1973b): it is the body that counts in personal identity. However, there is an important difference: while Williams thinks that psychological continuity is not necessary for personal identity, I have argued that psychological continuity is not sufficient for it. For I do not want to conclude that a person is purely a physical or bodily entity. I think that there are good arguments for defending the view that a person has both physical and psychological aspects, and that these together make what a person is. If the body dies or if the psychological aspects of the person are separated from the original body (supposing that this is possible; for example in a brain transplant) the person dies as well.

Here I do not want to argue for this "hybrid" or "unitary" approach of personal identity, but I want to limit myself to criticising the psychological approach. To that end, I have drawn attention to the significance of the body and its characteristics for the person, and I have shown that they are an essential part of the person.

Now a reaction to the Brown-Robinson case might be that Brownson would still be the world record holder for the 10,000m, if Robinson would have the same relevant physical characteristics as Brown. However, what the Tergat-Gebrselassie case shows is that not just the characteristics of the body are essential to identity: it is the passing of the finishing line by your body in first that makes you the winner of a race, not the passing of the line by the characteristics of the body in first. In the same way, it is because your body, not the characteristics of your body, passed the finish in a world record time that you have become a world record holder. Therefore, for being the same person it is not enough to be only the same person in the sense defended by the advocates of the psychological approach, nor is it then enough to have also the right bodily characteristics, but essential to personal identity is having the very same body (in addition to being the same person in psychological respect).

I think that my analysis is sufficient in itself for undermining the psychological approach of personal identity. However, my analysis can suggest that the person is merely an addition of body and mind. What I have not taken notice of and what I only want to mention here is that the relation between them is much closer, for body and mind often interact. Physical training as a sprinter makes an athlete also psychological sharp and reactive ("spritzig", as they call it in German); physical training as a long-distance runner stimulates also the psychological endurance and staying power. On the other hand, these psychological characteristics make someone also fitter as a sprinter or long-distance runner, as the case may be. What will happen then, if the brain of a typical long-distance runner is transplanted into the body of a typical sprinter, or the other way round? Then the person (as conceived in the psychological approach) and the body no longer match, and person (so the psychological characteristics) and body are no longer in harmony, with the result that the body will perform worse. Therefore, also because of the relation and interaction between body and mind, it is very unlikely that brain transplants are possible without any consequences for the person. Not only the advocates of the psychological approach but also many of its critics ignore this problem (cf. section 1).

4. Person, body and thought experiments

What my case analysis has shown is that the mind, i.e. the psychological aspects or what is called "person" in the psychological approach, cannot be detached from the body. There is no tenable separation between them, no Cartesian dualism: The person is an integrated psychological and physical whole.16 This became clear, as it turned out, by choosing my thought experiment that way that it took into account three factors, to wit: 1) there is an active involvement of the person in what he or she remembers; 2) not only episodic memory but also other forms of memory must play a role in the case analysis; 3) the characteristics of the person have not only a descriptive function but also an analytic function. That is why I introduced John Brown not as an abstract human being but as a practising athlete (1). He had learned certain physical skills in the past, which he normally could have applied later (non-episodic memory) (2). Moreover, the characteristics of John Brown could not have been omitted without altering the case (3). Now it is so that thought experiments are meant to test the plausibility of certain theoretical claims (cf. Wilkes 1988, 2). If one wants to substantiate by means of a thought experiment that the person is a psychological entity, then one must be able to make this plausible, even in the case that the psychological characteristics of the person have relations with and interact with the body, as in a realistic instance of a person who has broken a world record. Then it must also be possible to show that there is no fundamental difference between my remembering what I did in the past (remembering how smooth I was) and my remembering what another person did in the past (remembering having seen how smooth Paul Tergat was), or otherwise that such a difference does not lead to a unitary idea of a person. However, in thought experiments like Shoemaker’s Brown-Robinson case the body is simply being ignored. No wonder that then the conclusion follows that the psychological approach is right, because the assumption that the body of the person is not important and that the person is not connected with his or her body in fact has already been built in. However, what has to be done is to show that the psychological approach is tenable despite the relations and interactions that exist between psychological and physical factors. For a right theory must also hold in difficult, unlikely cases. However, brain transplant thought experiments etc. in favour of the psychological approach that try to test the approach in this way are lacking. That is why I made my remark above about the rash way that these "experiments" are employed.


1 In this paper, I discuss only the problem of the identity of human persons.

2 See e.g. Lewis 1976, Noonan 2003, Nozick 1981, Parfit 1984, Perry 1975b, Shoemaker 1984.

3 Hereafter referred to as "brain transfer cases etc.", or "brain transfer thought experiments etc.", and so on, as the case may be. For an overview see Gendler 1999, 454-457.

4 Cf. Guttenplan 2000, 128; Wilkes 1988.

5 "The Transplant Intuition is the hunch or feeling, the pull towards saying, that one survives in the transplant story as the offshoot who gets one’s cerebrum" (and I – HbdW – would like to add "or one’s brain or mind") (Olson 1997, 43; italics Olson. See also Noonan 2003, 199). Olson talks about cerebrum transplant, because the cerebrum is the seat of a person’s mental capacities, while the lower parts of the brain sustain the vegetative functions of the body. In my paper, the distinction between cerebrum and whole brain is not important and I prefer to follow the prevailing custom to talk about transplant of the brain, even when referring to Olson.

6 See the second part of note .

7 Williams 1973a, 11-13; quotation on p. 12. Note that Williams is not dealing here with a brain or mind transfer but with a "bodily interchange" performed by a magician. Also Snowdon 1990, 99 thinks that Williams’s example does not criticise brain transplant thought experiments in a satisfactory way. In his "The Self and the Future" (Williams 1973b, 46-63), Williams avoids the problem of what Snowdon 1991, n.9 calls ‘bodily discontinuities’ " (ibid., 46-47).

8 At the moment that I write this, Paul Tergat is the world record holder for the marathon, and he is an outstanding long-distance runner since already many years.

9 One-sided insofar as the psychological approach currently is the mainstream approach to personal identity.

10 See e.g. Noonan 2003. Cf. also Strawson’s distinction between M-predicates and P-predicates in Strawson 1959, 104.

11 Of course, "really" classic is Locke’s thought experiment (Locke 1975, Book II, chap. XXVII), in which the soul of a prince has entered the body of a cobbler.

12 See Gendler 1999.

13 See e.g. Lewis 1976, Perry 2002, Quinton 1975, Thomson 1997.

14 Since I defend the view that the person is bound to his or her body, I think that I do not need to take notice of the objections to this criterion as discussed next by Noonan. These objections all stay within the psychological approach and the essence of the psychological approach as formulated in the version of the criterion just quoted by me is not affected by these objections.

15 Assuming that the front of Tergat’s chest passes the line after Gebrselassie’s.

16 Cf. McDowell 1997.



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