Fission May Kill You

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):565-582 (2015)
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If a person, A, branches into B and C, then it is widely held that B and C are not identical to one another. Many think that this is because B and C have contradictory properties at the same time. In this paper, I show why this explanation cannot be right. I argue that contradictory properties at times are not necessary for non-identity between descendants, and that contradictory properties at times are not sufficient for non-identity. I also argue that the standard explanation cannot be salvaged by a shift to personal time. Appeals to a lack of continuity, or to the absence of unity of consciousness likewise fail. Rather, B and C are non-identical simply because A branched into B and C. Why branching should be problematic for personal identity remains a deep puzzle though I offer some tentative suggestions.



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Heather Demarest
University of Colorado, Boulder

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
The Constitution of Selves.Marya Schechtman (ed.) - 1996 - Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
The Paradoxes of Time Travel.David K. Lewis - 1976 - American Philosophical Quarterly 13 (2):145-152.
Sameness and substance.David Wiggins - 1980 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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