Emergence and the Problem of Personal Identity

Dissertation, San Diego State University (2013)

David Neuburger
San Diego State University
Philosophical theories of personal identity often tacitly assume that either the properties which make us Persons are easily divorced from our bodies, or, that our being Persons is one-and-the-same with our being human beings. While there is broad support both scientifically and philosophically for the contention that our being Persons is at least in part contingent on the proper development and functioning of our brains, the lack of consensus as to the manner in which the brain and mind relate to engender a Person has made the question of personal identity particularly intractable. One theory, called Emergence, posits the mind is engendered by, but not reducible to, the actions of the brain. In this thesis, the consequences for our conception of personal identity are explored given an Emergentist conception of the mind/body relationship. Mainline psychological and bodily continuity theories are rejected in favor of the Systemic Approach, which contends there must exist both psychological and bodily continuity for a Person to remain the same Person over time.
Keywords emergence, personal identity, personhood, Conway's Game of Life, cellular automata
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