Elijah Millgram

Copyright © 2017 Elijah Millgram.
All Rights Reserved.

Personal Identity
PHIL 5400/6400

Required textbooks:

Electronic devices are not permitted in the classroom, and you will be required to bring the textbooks to class; this means you need to have physical copies of these books. However, the first four on the list (and also the optional textbook) have been in print for quite a while; if you start looking early, you're likely to find inexpensive used copies.

Optional textbook:

Additional readings will be made available through the Marriott Library reserve desk. (See Marriott's Course Reserve How to Guide for an intro to using the library reserves.) For best results with JSTOR, either click on a JSTOR link while you're on-campus or click through to the journal from the Marriott catalog, log in, and search JSTOR for the item.

Reading Assignments:

  1. Aug. 24: Introduction to IDology:

    Optional prereading: Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, sec. 6. Peter Strawson, Individuals, ch. 3 ("Persons").

    Further reading: Don Garrett, "Hume's Self-Doubts about Personal Identity". Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained.

  2. Aug. 31: Being John Malkovich.

    Reading: Bernard Williams, "The Self and the Future" (ch. 4 in Problems of the Self); Bernard Williams, "Imagination and the Self" (ch. 3 in Problems of the Self; online reserve); David Velleman, "Self to Self".

    Optional reading: Avner Baz. "Whose Dream Is It Anyway?" International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 4.3-4 (2014): 263-287; Nichols, S. and Bruno, M. 2010. Intuitions about Personal Identity: An Empirical Study. Philosophical Psychology, 23, 293-312 (online resource available through the Marriott catalog).

    Further reading: Jenann Ismael, The Situated Self.

  3. Happy Labor Day: Take Reasons and Persons to the beach!

  4. Sept. 7: Monty Python Presents, Medical Experiments.

    Reading: Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons, pp. 199-347; Williams, "Persons, Character and Morality," from the last para. on p. 6 through the first para. on p. 8 (online reserve).

    Optional reading: Bernard Williams, "Personal Identity and Individuation" (ch. 1 in Problems of the Self); Jennifer Whiting, "Friends and Future Selves"; Christine M. Korsgaard, "Personal Identity and the Unity of Agency: A Kantian Response to Parfit"; Schechtman, Staying Alive, ch. 2 (but you can skip secs. 2.2 and 2.3.2).

  5. Sept. 14: Failures of Imagination and Two-Front Arguments Against Self-Interest Theory.

    Reading: Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons, pp. 3-4, 17-195; review Williams, "Imagination and the Self," near the top of Problems of the Self, p. 40, from "Schlick famously claimed..." to the end of the paragraph.

    Optional reading: Carol Rovane, "Branching Self-Consciousness"; Tamar Gendler, "Personal Identity and Thought-Experiments".

    Further reading: George Ainslie, Picoeconomics.

  6. Sept. 21: Persimmons and Pencil Sharpeners.

    Reading: Thomas Nagel, The Possibility of Altruism, pp. 3-76. (I recommend you read it like so: start on p. 27, you can skim ch. 7 [pp. 46-56], and then wrap around and read pp. 3-23 last.)

    Optional reading: Luca Ferrero, "Decisions, Diachronic Autonomy and the Division of Deliberative Labor"; Cei Maslen, "A Defense of Humeanism from Nagel's Persimmon".

    Further reading: David Velleman, "Well-Being and Time," Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72(1), 1991: 48-77.

  7. Sept. 28: Bodies and Sounds.

    Reading: Review Nagel; Peter Strawson, Individuals, Introduction, ch. 1.

    Optional reading: Ross Harrison, On What There Must Be, ch. 4 (= "Time"; online reserve); Bernard Williams, "Strawson on Individuals" (ch. 7 in Problems of the Self), through sec. 3.

    Further reading: Guy Rohrbaugh, "Artworks as Historical Individuals"; Barry Stroud, "Transcendental Arguments".

  8. Oct. 5: Persons and Psychological States.

    Reading: Peter Strawson, Individuals, chs. 2-3.

    Optional reading: Strawson, Individuals, ch. 4; Bernard Williams, "Are Persons Bodies?" (ch. 5 in Problems of the Self); "Strawson on Individuals" (ch. 7 in Problems of the Self), sec. 4.

    Further reading: Bernard Williams, "What Was Wrong with Minos?" (available shortly).

  9. Have a great Fall Break!

  10. Oct. 19: How Do Selves Happen?

    Reading: Jonathan Lear, Love and Its Place in Nature, chs. 1-3; review Parfit, Reasons and Persons, sec. 95.

    Optional reading: Model papers: Matthew Fee, "Friends, Future Selves, and Frenemies" (on reserve in the Philosophy Department reception area); Andrew Hayes, "Unmediated Access, Mediated Interest: A Response to Velleman" (on reserve in the Philosophy Department reception area).

    Further reading: Jonathan Lear, Freud; Patricia Kitcher, Freud's Dream.

  11. Oct. 26: Transcendental Deductions Meet Developmental Psychology.

    Reading: Jonathan Lear, Love and Its Place in Nature, chs. 4-6.

    Optional reading: J. J. C. Smart, "Philosophical Problems of Cosmology"; Sherri Roush, "Copernicus, Kant, and the Anthropic Cosmological Principles"; Ian Stewart, "The Anthropomurphic Principle".

    Further reading: Jonathan Lear, Open Minded; Barrow and Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (excerpt; online reserve); Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, pp. 164-181 (online reserve).

  12. Nov. 2: Person-Constituting Narratives.

    Reading: Marya Schechtman, The Constitution of Selves, ch. 5-6 (ch. 5, "The Narrative Self-Constitution View," online reserve; ch. 6, "Characterization and the Four Features," on reserve in the Philosophy Department reception area); Schechtman, Staying Alive, sec. 4.2.

    Optional reading: Schechtman, Staying Alive, 39 (from the second full para., "Parfit seems to assume...") to 42; Martha Nussbaum, "Narrative Emotions" (online reserve); David Velleman, How We Get Along, ch. 7 ("Meaning," online reserve).

    Further reading: Schechtman, Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot. And on reidentification: Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (there's also a movie version)

  13. Nov. 9: Psychic Stew, and When Life Narratives and Folk-Psychological Intelligibility Come Apart.

    Reading: Williams, "The Makropulos Case" (Problems of the Self, ch. 6); Schechtman, Staying Alive, pp. 1-29 (thru the first para., "...as identity is concerned"); ch. 3; pp. 95-96 (from "One natural reading..." to "...one of the variations").

    Optional reading: Schechtman, Staying Alive, pp. 29-39; 62 (from "In fact, Olson expresses...") to 63, end of first para. ("...comes to pass?"); Connie Rosati, "The Makropulos Case Revisited".

    Further reading: Schechtman, Staying Alive, sec. 4.1; Capek, "The Makropulos Case".

  14. Nov. 16: Person-Lives and Plans.

    Reading: Schechtman, Staying Alive, chs. 5-6; pp. 184-185 (from "The content and importance of this..." to "...what we are most fundamentally"); Conclusion (pp. 200-204); Michael Bratman, "Taking Plans Seriously".

    Optional reading: Model paper: "An Objection to Strawson's Spatio-Temporal Grid" (on reserve in the Philosophy Department). Richard Boyd, "Realism, Approximate Truth, and Philosophical Method", sec. 2.5 ("Homeostatic Property-Cluster Definitions...", pp. 372-376); Bratman, "Planning and the Stability of Intention".

    Further reading: Adam Morton, "Moments in Good Lives" (online reserve); Galen Strawson, "Against Narrativity," Ratio, n.s., 17(4) Dec 2004: 428-452 (available through the Marriott catalog).


  16. Nov. 30: When Agency Is Wider than Persons.

    Reading: Michael Bratman, Shared Agency, chs. 1-4.

    Optional reading: Bratman, Faces of Intention.

    Further reading: Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac.

  17. Dec. 7: What's the Difference Between a Person and a Cooperative Activity?

    Reading: Remainder of Bratman, Shared Agency.

    Optional reading: Read or review Korsgaard, "Personal Identity and the Unity of Agency: A Kantian Response to Parfit".

    Further reading: Bratman, Structures of Agency.