Nils-Frederic Wagner
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Thought experiments that concoct bizarre possible world modalities are standard fare in debates on personal identity. Appealing to intuitions raised by such evocations is often taken to settle differences between conflicting theoretical views that, albeit, have practical implications for ethical controversies of personal identity in health care. Employing thought experiments that way is inadequate, I argue, since personhood is intrinsically linked to constraining facts about the actual world. I defend a moderate modal skepticism according to which intuiting across conceptually incongruent worlds constitutes ‘invalid intuition-inferences’—i.e., carrying over intuitions gathered from facts about possible worlds that are at odds with facts about the actual world, for the purpose of making claims about real-life persons and their identity, leads to conceptual incongruences. Such a methodological fallout precludes accurate, informative judgments about personal identity in the actual world, calling into question the adequacy of thought experimental considerations for potential real-world applications in medical ethics.
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-022-10089-w
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