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Locke posed the problem of personal identity in one brief question, “What makes the same person?” This formulation is deceptively simple. My aim is to offer a new interpretation of the problem and to suggest a method for finding a solution.
Investigations of personal identity are usually cast in terms of finding the criterion for personal identity. Yet talk of criteria is ambiguous. In one sense of the term, the criterion of personal identity would be special evidence for personal identity. According to the second usage, the criterion of personal identity would be that state of affairs for which evidence for personal identity is evidence. We will not be concerned with the first construal. On that reading, the problem of personal identity would be an epistemological issue. But the basic question concerning personal identity, “What is one person?” does not appear to be an epistemological question.
Patricia Kitcher considers Kant’s notion of freedom, its relationship to the formula of humanity, and the relationship of the formula of humanity to the highest good. Although Kitcher thinks freedom and the formula of humanity do serve to demonstrate the moral law’s bindingness, she rejects the idea that freedom can be defined in terms of the capacity to set ends, or that freedom itself is an end that Kant’s moral philosophy enjoins us to pursue. Instead, she advances a novel interpretation of Kant’s claim that "we must necessarily lend to every rational being that has a will also the idea of freedom" (GMS 4:448) by looking at Kant’s remarks about how it is that we can regard others as rational thinkers in the first Critique. Ultimately, Kitcher argues, this interpretation explains the bindingness of the moral law and, by extension, provides an argument for the duty to promote the happiness of others that does not depend upon thinking of happiness as intrinsically valuable.
This commentary offers two criticisms of Block's account of phenomenal consciousness and a brief sketch of a rival account. The negative points are that monitoring consciousness also involves the possession of certain states and that phenomenal consciousness inevitably involves some sort of monitoring. My positive suggestion is that “phenomenal consciousness” may refer to our ability to monitor the rich but preconceptual states that retain perceptual information for complex processing.
Kant's contributions to our understanding of the mind came largely in the course of pursuing other projects. The Critique of Pure Reason was intended to determine what we can know. In trying to answer that question Kant was led to consider what minds must be like to be capable of knowledge. His search for a sound basis for ethics included an investigation of the nature of a being who could be a morally responsible agent. He offered hypotheses about how observers appreciate beauty and sublimity in order to clarify the significance of the aesthetic appreciation of art and nature. By investigating what we could do or what he thought we could do, he developed theories about who or what we are.
The task of integrating the aspects of mind that Kant believed are required for knowledge, morality, and aesthetic sensibility in a consistent portrait of a subject has yet to be carried out. In this chapter, I focus exclusively on his depictions of the mind as a subject of knowledge in the Critique of Pure Reason. His theory of the active cognizer stands behind his most arresting philosophical doctrine, namely, the thesis that “we ourselves bring into the appearances that order and regularity in them that we call nature, and moreover we would not be able to find it there if we, or the nature of our mind, had not originally put it there” (Pure Reason, A 125).
David Marr's theory of vision has been widely cited by philosophers and psychologists. I have three projects in this paper. First, I try to offer a perspicuous characterization of Marr's theory. Next, I consider the implications of Marr's work for some currently popular philosophies of psychology, specifically, the “hegemony of neurophysiology view”, the theories of Jerry Fodor, Daniel Dennett, and Stephen Stich, and the view that perception is permeated by belief. In the last section, I consider what the phenomenon of vision must be like for Marr's project to succeed.
Three recent, influential critiques (Stich 1978; Fodor 1981c; Block 1980) have argued that various tasks on the agenda for computational psychology put conflicting pressures on its theoretical constructs. Unless something is done, the inevitable result will be confusion or outright incoherence. Stich, Fodor, and Block present different versions of this worry and each proposes a different remedy. Stich wants the central notion of belief to be jettisoned if it cannot be shown to be sound. Fodor tries to reduce confusion in computational psychology by dismissing some putative tasks as impossible. Block argues that the widespread faith in functionalism is just not warranted. I argue that all these critiques are misguided because they depend on holding cognitive psychology to taxonomic standards that other sciences routinely rise above.
Most people believe that extraterrestrial beings or porpoises or computers could someday be recognized as persons. Given the significant constitutional differences between these entities and ourselves, the general assumption appears to be that ‘person’ is not a natural kind term. David Wiggins offers an illuminating challenge to this popular dogma in ‘Locke, Butler and the Stream of Consciousness: and Men as a Natural Kind’. Wiggins does not claim that ‘person’ actually is a natural kind term; but he argues hard for the advantages of regarding it as something like a natural kind classification. The problem is that, whatever its merits, there are obvious and fatal objections to the view that person is a natural kind. My aim is to present a modification of the natural kind thesis which avoids these objections and retains the attractions of the basic position.
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