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Parfit Text Notes
Simple Teletransportation: I go through a teleportation device where I am scanned destroyed at
point A and recreated at point B.
Branch-Line Case: I go through a teleportation device where I am scanned and recreated
somewhere else, but the first me is not destroyed.
Qualitatively identical – exactly alike in appearance and personality
Numerically identical – one and the same.
Three questions to ask:
1What is the nature of a person?
2What makes a person at two different times one and the same person? What is necessarily
involved in the continued existence of a person over time?
3What is in fact involved in the continued existence of each person over time?
Physical Criterion: (1) What is necessary is not the continued existence of the whole body, but the
continued existence of enough of the brain to be the brain of a living person. X today is one and
the same person as Y at some past time if and only if (2) enough of Y's brain continued to exist, and
is now X's brain, and (3) this physical continuity has not taken a “branching” form. (4) Personal
identity over time just consists in the holding of facts like (2) and (3).
Psychological Criterion: (1) There is a psychological continuity if and only if there are
overlapping chains of strong connectedness. X today is one and the same person as Y at some past
time if and only if (2) X is psychologically continuous with Y, (3) this continuity has the right kind
of cause, and (4) it has not taken a “branching” form. (5) Personal identity over time just consists
in the holding of facts like (2) and (4).
Reductionist Criterion: The question “is he the same person” is neither true nor false. Personal
Identity is not what matters. What matters is Relation R: psychological connectedness and/or
continuity, with the right kind of cause. What unites the different experiences that are had by a
single person at the same time is that the subject of the experiences is the same.
In branch-Line case, if personal identity matters, dying would be just as bad as ordinary death. But
if personal identity is not what matters and Relation R is what matters, dying is as good as
EXAMPLE: A club ceased to exist for a few years, then was revived by a few existing members.
Is this the same club that existed from before? The answer is neither yes nor no. It is an empty
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