Locke on Relations, Identity, Persons, and Personal Identity

In Patrick J. Connolly (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of John Locke. New York: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This essay examines Locke’s chapter “Of Identity and Diversity” (Essay 2.27) in the context of the series of chapters on ideas of relations (Essay 2.25–28) that precede and follow it. I begin by introducing Locke’s account of how we acquire ideas of relations. Next, I consider Locke’s general approach to individuation and identity over time before I show how he applies his general account of identity over time to persons and personal identity. I draw attention to Locke’s claim that “person” is a forensic term and analyse his arguments for why the sameness of a human being and the sameness of a substance or soul are neither necessary nor sufficient for personal identity. Instead, Locke argues that personal identity consists in sameness of consciousness. Locke regards persons as moral agents who are accountable for their actions. If a person now is held accountable for a past action it is important that the person now is the same person as the person who did the action. This means that moral accountability presupposes personal identity. Additionally, it will be important to consider whether the person deserves reward or punishment for the action. Locke’s account of moral relations, which he develops in Essay 2.28, addresses this issue and I show how it supplements his account of persons and personal identity.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Moral Dimension in Locke's Account of Persons and Personal Identity.Ruth Boeker - 2014 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 31 (3):229-247.
Locke on Persons and Personal Identity.Ruth Boeker - 2021 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Locke's psychology of personal identity.Raymond Martin - 2000 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (1):41-61.
John locke on personal identity.N. Nimbalkar - 2011 - Mens Sana Monographs 9 (1):268.
Locke on Persons and Personal Identity.Margaret Atherton - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (1):247-247.
Locke on Education, Persons, and Moral Agency.Ruth Boeker - 2023 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 31 (2):1-9.
John Locke: Identity, Persons, and Personal Identity.Ruth Boeker - 2013 - Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy.
Locke on Personal Identity: A Response to the Problems of His Predecessors.Ruth Boeker - 2017 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (3):407-434.
Relations.[author unknown] - 2014 - In Samuel C. Rickless (ed.), Locke. Oxford, UK: Wiley. pp. 113-132.
Locke on Personal Identity.Jane Lipsky McIntyre - 1977 - Philosophy Research Archives 3:113-144.
Locke on Persons and Personal Identity.David P. Behan - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):53 - 75.


Added to PP

241 (#78,556)

6 months
241 (#8,862)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Ruth Boeker
University College Dublin

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

New Essays on Human Understanding.Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz - 1981 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Peter Remnant & Jonathan Bennett.
Problems from Locke.J. L. Mackie - 1976 - Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press.
Consciousness in Locke.Shelley Weinberg - 2016 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

View all 39 references / Add more references