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*?
