Functionalism and Personal Identity

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (4):781-804 (1998)
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Sydney Shoemaker has claimed that functionalism, a theory about mental states, implies a certain theory about the identity over time of persons, the entities that have mental states. He also claims that persons can survive a “Brain-State-Transfer” procedure.My examination of these claims includes description and analysis of imaginary cases, but-notably-not appeals to our “intuitions” concerning them.It turns out that Shoemaker’s basic insight is correct: there is a connection between the two theories. Specifically, functionalism implies that “non-branching functional continuity” is sufficient for personal identity. But there is no implication that it is necessary. And the “BST” procedure may not preserve functional continuity. I consider several possibilities. On what may be the most attractive, the survivor of this---or any similar---procedure is not identical with the original person, but related to him or her as are the survivors in a case of fission.



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Functionalism, the Brain, and Personal Identity.Lawrence H. Davis - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 102 (3):259-279.

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