"Personhood and Personal Identity" Discussion Questions

Marya Schechtman
  1. Describe Parfit’s psychological continuity view of personal identity. What problem does this view traditionally face, and how does Parfit try to solve this problem? Given the kind of theory Parfit is trying to create, why is it important that he solve this problem? Are you convinced that such a reductionist project is a good one?
  2. Describe the difference between the traditional circularity problem and Schechtman’s version of this problem. Be sure to describe the relevant features of Parfit’s view, to make sense of these problems. Are you convinced by Schechtman? Why or why not?
  3. What does Edward Casey’s description of remembering seeing Small Change show, according to Schechtman? Why does this pose a problem for psychological continuity views of personal identity? Do you think this is a convincing line of argument? Why or why not?
  4. In section IV, Schechtman explains why she thinks psychological continuity views have gone wrong. What is her explanation? Does this seem right? Why or why not? Given this diagnosis, how does Schechtman suggest we move forward in discussion personal identity? What sorts of considerations become more important?
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