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Volume 47 • Number 4

October 2010



Psychological Continuity and the
Necessity of Identity

by Robert Francescotti

In attempting to understand personal identity, it is common practice to imagine a person existing at some time t (x at t) and a person existing at a time t* (y at t*), and then to ask,

What does it take for person x at t to be the same person as person y at t*?

The Psychological Continuity Approach (hereafter PCA) answers:

there is a relation, R, of psychological continuity such that person x at t is the same person as person y at t* if and only if x at t bears R to y at t*.

But maybe the question above is not the right one to ask when trying to understand personal identity. Olson (1997, p. 25) calls this the narrow question of personal identity, which he distinguishes from the broad question:

What does it take for person x at t to be the same individual as y at t*?

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ISSN: 2152-1123