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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.131) Chapter Seventeen Circularity?
Locke on Personal Identity

Galen Strawson

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the charge of circularity or question-begging that has been leveled against John Locke's notion of personal identity. It first considers Locke's assumption, in raising the question of personal identity, that there exists a diachronically continuous subject of experience that qualifies as a person by virtue of possessing the capacities characteristic of personhood. It then discusses the concept of a person (Person), described as something that has a certain personality or moral-characteral coherence in addition to being a cognitively sophisticated “sensible creature.” It also suggests that Locke never endorsed the radical theory of personal identity and concludes by interpreting the claim that “consciousness makes personal identity” as simply the claim that “the actions that you'll be responsible for on the Day of Judgment, as a human subject of experience, will be all.”

Keywords:   circularity, John Locke, personal identity, experience, person, personhood, radical theory, consciousness, Day of Judgment

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