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Persons unlocked

Dale, Catherine Rebecca; (2018) Persons unlocked. Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis considers two elements of the contemporary ‘personal identity debate’ that find their origins in Locke. The first part is focussed on reasons for rejecting the ‘personal identity’ framing – I propose that we should instead ask ’What is it for something to be a person?’ The second part of the thesis considers Lockean accounts of personhood. I assess the prospects of accommodating the personhood of infants on these accounts. I consider Locke’s own account, arguing that it has two central requirements on personhood – forming episodic memories, and having a self-conscious, first-person point of view. I use the phenomenon of childhood amnesia to argue that infants will satisfy neither of these criteria. I then consider Neo-Lockean psychological continuity accounts, taking Shoemaker’s functionalist account as my focus. I argue that infants do not satisfy the criteria of personhood that we find in Shoemaker, and that again this is due to a failure to have a self-conscious first-person point of view. I consider the possibility of a ‘bridge principle’ that would allow infants into the account, and reject such a move. In the following chapter, I turn to Rovane’s account, which rejects Locke’s conception of a point of view. Her account explicitly excludes infants, and I consider her account to identify why this is the case. I argue that, as well as having too high a conceptual demand, it implicitly relies on a self-conscious first-person point of view. In the last past of the thesis, I suggest that if a Neo-Lockean account of personhood is to accommodate infants, it will need a far more minimal conception of a point of view. I suggest that perhaps we can rethink Rovane’s notion of ‘mutual recognition’ to aid in this endeavour.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Persons unlocked
Event: UCL
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2018. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10064402
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