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Locke on Personal IdentityConsciousness and Concernment$
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Galen Strawson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161006

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161006.001.0001

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(p.5) Chapter Two “Person”
Locke on Personal Identity

Galen Strawson

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines John Locke's use of the word “person” as the root cause of the misunderstanding about his theory of personal identity. Most of Locke's readers tend to take the term “person” as if it were only a sortal term of a standard kind, that is, a term for a standard temporal continuant, like “human being” or “thinking thing.” However, they fail to take into account the fact that Locke is using “person” as a “forensic” term, that is, a term that finds its principal use in contexts in which questions about the attribution of responsibility (praise and blame, punishment and reward) are foremost. The chapter explains how a Lockean person, or more specifically Person [P], differs from the standard person and describes the three components of [P]: a whole human material body, an immaterial soul, and a set of actions both present and past.

Keywords:   person, John Locke, forensic term, personal identity, human being, responsibility, human material body, immaterial soul, action

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