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1 / 3Kayla Aceves 1/23/2018 Shoemaker’s “Parfit on Identity” Shoemaker identifies two of Parfit’s main points in Reasons and Persons, or his paper “Personal Identity,” as the main targets of his paper: (1) the idea that personal identity is determinate and (2) the view that ‘what matters’ in regard to survival is personal identity itself. Parfit claims that we naturally assume a non-reductionist view of personal identity. This implies that we consider our personhood to be a ‘separately existing identity,’ that is all-or-nothing, perfectly determinate, and does not rely on the relations between mental states and bodies.  However, Parfit argues for a reductionist view, which suggests personal identity can be described in ‘impersonal terms,’ we are not separately existing entities, and it emphasizes the importance of psychological continuity and connectedness. According to the reductionist view, personal identity itself is not what matters, rather, psychological C&C. He also mentions that what makes it rational for one to be concerned for one’s future is the fact that one’s present states and future states are in relations that coincide with personal identity. This could further be explained by Parfit’s ‘Combined Spectrum’ argument, which is a response to Williams’ attack on Parfit’s C accounts. Williams, relying on the “fact” personal identity is determinate, and against Parfit’s claim in the psychological spectrum that there all cases on the near side the future person is oneself and vice versa, Williams argues that even at the far end a person is still oneself, therefore, psychological C&C is not needed for personal identity. Parfit then countered Williams with the Physical Spectrum which can be exemplified by the Greta Garbo at age 30 example, where at the far end of the spectrum there is no 2 / 3psychological or physical continuity between ones’ state and the future person’s, and at no point on the spectrum can we agree that on all cases on either side the future person is me, or not me. This argument, according to Parfit, disproves William’s assumption that identity is determinate.  Shoemaker then goes into detail about his “misgivings” about Parfit’s argument, especially with Parfit’s description of the Reductionist view. The author mentions Parfit’s club example and discusses how if he compares persons with clubs and nations, and members of clubs and citizens of nations are the “experiences” of persons, his view ends up being very similar to Hume’s Bundle Theory of the Self, and this is the portion of this reading that I will explore. The ideas we find in Hume’s writing is commonly referred to as the beginning of the concept of type and token identity, which implies that identity is divided into two basic descriptive categories, using this distinction. However, this could be easily explained by Parfit’s distinction between his terms of qualitative and numerical identity. Another parallel between Parfit and Hume’s view can be found in Shoemaker’s account of the reductionist view: facts about personal identity are given in impersonal terms, events or experiences are therefore described without ever referring to a specific person (138). Shoemaker concludes that Parfit must not think of experiences as entities that require subjects, which is similar to Hume’s view which implies we are a bundle of properties with no underlying substance. If you replace Parfit’s key words such as experiences and subjects with Hume’s properties and substance, you have the same theory twice.  

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