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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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“Person … is a forensic term”

“Person … is a forensic term”

(p.17) Chapter Three “Person … is a forensic term”
Locke on Personal Identity

Galen Strawson

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that John Locke is using the word “person” as a “forensic” term. Udo Thiel notes the sense in which “person” is a property term, a term for a moral quality, in Locke's text. J. L. Mackie suggests that Locke's theory “is...hardly a theory of personal identity at all, but might be better described as a theory of action appropriation.” This is exactly what Locke says himself. In effect, the thing-and-property-blending use of “person” compresses our ordinary notion of a person into the much more specific notion of a person's moral identity, while at the same time insisting on maintaining the idea that the resulting thing is indeed a thing, a person. The chapter explains why “person” “is a forensic term, appropriating actions and their merit.”

Keywords:   person, John Locke, Udo Thiel, property term, J. L. Mackie, personal identity, action appropriation, moral identity, thing, forensic term

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