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Philosophy 2073F/G
Chris Sheriff

September 25, 2012 Perry and Davis: Personal Identity and Survival - The story so far: o Plato argued that death is not bad, and that philosophy prepares us for death - From Plato to Perry: o If “we” are going to survive death/be immortal/etc. it had better be us t hat survives o If it isn’t me floating around then Plato’s arguments do not apply0 - Perry: o Three arguments in the dialogue:  1. Identity of souls is not sufficient  A) First suggestion from Miller: The mind/soul survives death o What we are, fundamentally, is a soul o It is possible that the soul survives death and exists in some heavenly realm after death o Since the soul is you, you survive death  B) Rejection of this possibility o We don’t see souls; we see bodies o We have no way to know that the body we see contains the same soul that it did the last time we saw it o In that case, we wouldn’t know who the people we encounter actually were, since their souls may have been swapped o But this is absurd. We clearly are able to recognize people around us and judge that they are the same person o If we can know this, identity must consist in something more than identity of souls  2. Apparent continuity of memory is not sufficient  Miller’s second attempt: Identity consists in the continuity of memory/consciousness  We are the same person we were in the past because we have the same memories you can recall  This results in  Memory and Survival: o Someone in heaven after you die who has your memories o This person would be you o Therefore, it is possible that you survive death o Two-stage rejection  First, need to distinguish between apparent and actual memory  Someone who appears to remember the things I have done but has not actually done them is not identical to me  If the heavenly person only appears to have my memories, that person is not me. Must actually have my memories o The problem  Must say, then, that the heavenly person has to also be the same person who actually experience the memory  Circular  1. The person in heaven has my memories because they are me  2. The person in heaven is me because they have my memories  If I have any doubts about whether or not I will survive death, I will have the same doubts about whether or not the thing that exists after death actually has my memories, and thus is actually me o Miller’s third attempt: What’s you is a thing that shares your memories and has its memories caused the appropriate way (bear an appropriate causal relation to your actual memories/are caused by your actual memories)  God creates the heavenly being with your memories because they were your memories at death  This preserves the proper causal relationship, and so the person is you o The Problem: Competition  If God could create one being with my memories, he could surely create two  If there are two, and they are both identical with me (in proper way)  But this would mean that they are identical to each other  So these two people would be one person  The only way out of this problem would be to insist that identity is only preserved
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