Introducing Personal Identity

Teaching Philosophy 24 (1):19-27 (2001)
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This paper presents a story that introduces the philosophical problem of personal identity in a way that students find clear and compelling. While the story neither offers a solution to the paradox it raises nor fully explores the relation of personal identity and “what matters” for prudence and responsibility, the story can be used to clear up initial confusions about personal identity and thereby provide a framework for organizing further reading and discussion. Besides presenting this story, the paper provides a discussion of the pedagogical benefit of the use of paradox, offers a schematic account of the argument of the story, and addresses common student responses.



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Eugene Mills
Virginia Commonwealth University

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