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The Concept of Personal Identity Author(s): Steven Rieber Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 58, No. 3, (Sep.

, 1998), pp. 581-594 Published by: International Phenomenological Society Stable URL: Accessed: 20/05/2008 18:48
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ratherthan eliminate. On this methodologicalissue. The no-branchingtheory is in effect a second-orderanalysis. if our aim is to explicate the actual concept.Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol.This implies sharpeningor otherwise altering the concept.1Frequentlyleft open. p. i. See e. Its aim is to explicate the concept of personal identity: what it is to believe. It proposes an analysis of the concept of personal identity in terms of a definite description. as Derek Parfit puts it. section 15. a combination of the definite description analysis of personal identity plus a Russellian analysis of the definite description.3However. the indeterminacy in the puzzle cases. No. or conceptual-is at issue.Among the imaginarycases are certain puzzle situationsin which a person divides in two and questions of personal identity seem to have no answer. Faced with such apparentindeterminacy.. LVIII. think.The apparentindeterminacy results from attemptingto apply a definite descriptionto a situation in which more than one object would satisfy the description. 3. September 1998 The Conceptof PersonalIdentity STEVENRIEBER Georgia State University Theories of personal identity try to explain what the identity of a person necessarily consists in. One alternativeis to devise an account that yields a definite verdict even where intuition is indefinite. however. our analysis ought to explain. nomological. but frequently leave open what kind of necessity is at issue. It is widely agreed that a theory of personal identity ought to explain. while avoiding the problems with that view. An explication of the concept ought to cohere with and explain thesejudgments. what the identity of a person necessarily involves or consists in. see Shoemaker1984. That is the route this paper takes. is what type of necessity-metaphysical.g. As in other conceptualinvestigations. or assert that x and y at different times are the same person.The analysis coheres with out judgments about clear cases and explains why cases of division seem indeterminate. 203. Brennan 1988. thus purging the concept of indeterminacy.The definite descriptionanalysis also explains the strengths of the influential no-branchingtheory. the theorist has a choice. and indeed some philosophersexplicitly acknowledgean intentionto modify the concept of personalidentity.2 This essay is concerned with conceptual necessity. THE CONCEPTOF PERSONALIDENTITY 581 .the data are the intuitivejudgments about cases real and hypothetical.e. This paper is concerned with conceptual necessity. Both 1 2 3 Parfit1984.

The definite descripinability to form a determinate tion analysis also explains both the strengths and the weaknesses of the influential no-branching theory of personal identity. My thesis. Consider an analysis of knowledge that combines undefeatedtruejustified belief togetherwith the correspondence theory of truth. (iii) S's justification for believing that P is undefeated. Parfit 1984.The problemsdo not arise for the definitedescriptionanalysis itself.In particular. Similarly. they are complementary. In addition to diagnosing the difficulties for the no-branchingtheory. for example. Every component of the analysis must make independentsense. However. the definite description analysis is not committed to Russellianism. namely. Johnston 1992. in fact. then. Moreover.and (iv) P correspondsto the facts. the no-branchingtheory can avail itself of resources such as conversationalimplicaturethat have been used to defend Russell.projects are of course legitimate.But an analysis of the actual concept is more narrowlyconstrained. (ii) S is justified in believing that P. the definite descriptionanalysis also suggests a strategyby which the no-branching theory might solve these problems. Now this second-orderanalysis of knowledge would face objections having nothing to theory of do with knowledgeper se.The notion of a second-orderanalysis can be illustratedas follows. I will show that the no-branchingtheory is a combination of the definite description analysis of personal identity plus a Russellian analysis of the definite description. In what follows I propose what I shall call the definite description analysis.The no-branchingtheory has a numberof implausible consequences. objectionsto the correspondence truth. Once it is seen that the problems for the no-branching theory are ultimately problems for Russell's theory of descriptions. Any attemptto modify the concept of personalidentityby drawingprecise boundaries ought to begin with an understandingof where the actual (imprecise) boundarieslie and what the source of the indeterminacyis. which explains both our clear intuitions about ordinary cases and our judgmentaboutdivision. while I indicate how such a defense might proceed. shorn of the Russellian addition. it must take seriously the requirementnot to be ad hoc. both projects may help answer the much-discussed question of whether personal identitymatters. The definite descriptionanalysis shows that these theory stem ultimatelyfrom Russell's theory difficulties for the no-branching of descriptions.4 Theories that seek to modify the concept of personal identity have some degree of latitude. is that the definite description analysis provides the correct first-orderanalysis of the On whetherour identity matterssee.for differentmodificationsmay suit differentpurposes. STEVEN RIEBER 582 . Sosa 1990. I argue that the nobranchingtheoryis in effect an attemptat a second-orderanalysis. nothing should be included which serves merely to save the analysis from an objection. Thus S knows that P is analyzed as: (i) S believes that P.

5-11. about personal identity. But neitherof these is plausible. The results are B and C. On the distinctionbetween concept and conception (applied to the notion of justice) see Rawls 1971. see Parfit 1984 and Shoemaker 1984. If this disagreementwere about the concept of personal identity. pp. as needed. I leave open the question of what the correct theory of descriptionsis. If this assumptionis wrong.6 The purpose of the no-branchingclause ("no one else is continuouswith y") is to avoid the consequence that in cases of division one person is identical with two distinct persons.concept of personal identity. but conceptual truths. then be supplemented Let's begin by considering: The No-Branching Theory. pp. Each half is then transplantedinto a new (brainless) body which is qualitativelyjust like the original body. each of whom is physically and mentally continuouswith A. The startingpoint for an analysis of personal identity is usually some notion of continuity-mental. See also Unger 1990. it seems that this issue is not about the concept of personal identity but about different concep- tions of the concept.7Suppose thatA's brainis removed from A's body and divided into two. This paper is not concerned with the physical/mental issue. we would have to conclude eitherthat one side is simply confused or that the two sides have differentconcepts. takes a similar position. Indeed. The analysis is expressed in terms of what it is to believe or assert something about personal identity. no one else is continuouswith y.g. which does not appeal to continuitybut does employ a no-branchingclause. then. teletransportation) without mental continuity (e. To believe/assert that person x at one time is identical with person y at an earliertime is to believe/assert that x is continuouswith y and no one else is continuouswith y. But if fusion is conceptuallypossible and if the resultingperson is continuouswith both originals. ratherthan as a simple biconditional. Also. For psychological versions of the no-branching theory.g. and x is continuouswith no one else. THE CONCEPTOF PERSONALIDENTITY 583 . ratherthan thefusion of two persons into one. then I will have given a partial analysis which can with the word 'mental'or 'physical'. then the no-branchingtheory ought to contain another clause: To believe/assert that person x at one time is identical with person y at an earliertime is to believe/assert that x is continuous with y. and hence what the correctsecond-orderanalysis of personalidentity might be. because my goal is to explicate not just necessary truths. But B and C 5 6 Nozick 1981. by "identical"I mean: numerically identical. 33-34. physical or some combinationof the two. Most discussions of puzzle cases concern the division of one person into two. that whether the continuity required for personal identity is physical or mental is not a question about the concept of personalidentity. total amnesia and a new personality).' People who apparentlyfully understandthe issues sincerely disagree aboutwhetherthey could survive withoutphysical continuity or (e. Perhapsthis is because it is not clear that in the case of fusion the resultingperson is continuouswith both of the original persons. I assume. here and throughout the paper.

the no-branching But while the no-branchingtheory preservesthe transitivityof identity. then an analysis of the actual concept of personal identity should explain why this is an empty question. Thus the no-branchingtheory does not explain why none of the answers (includingthis one) seems right.are clearly not identical to each other. the concepts of a person and of being the same person over time may not determinatelyapply in the case. the no-branchingtheory implies that neitherB nor C is identical with A. A does not exist. 136: "it's not (determinately)true that one survives fission. Yet this does not seem correct. so that there may be no simple fact about perThis of course assumes that B and C are not the same continuer. Yet the no-branchingtheory says that there is a determinateanswer. pp. it does not account for the fact that when we think about the question of personal identity in division. When a case necessarily violates some principle relatively central to our conception of persons and their identity over time.since thereis no otherplausiblecandidatefor someone identical to A. shows that there are problems with each of the answers to the question of what happens when a person divides. For one thing. ence between B and C. Lewis 1976." Parfit1984. (ii) is as a result an indeterminatecase." and by Johnston 1992.It also assumes that A's body belonged to only one person prior to division-which has been denied by Perry 1972. As Mark Johnston says. 603: "the fission case (i) violates the ordinary presuppositionof essential unity. and Mills 1993. p. Now.If so. division does not seem to be cessation of existence. or that both are. who claim that there were two people all along.namely that neitherB nor C is identical with A. Mills adds that there were two streamsof consciousness all along. p. It does not seem correct to say either that B or C is identical with A. it is just this apparentlack of a determinate answer that makes the case so puzzling.9 Indeed. there seems to be no right answer. for that would violate the transitivityof identity. to ask Is B identicalwith A? is to ask Is it the case that B is continuouswith A and no one else is continuous with A? to which the answeris determinately And since thereis no relevantdifferno. On the no-branchingtheory. 253-60.' Hence clause. it has other problems as an analysis of the actual concept of personal identity. the no-branching theory implies that after division. Moreover. Thus we do not want to say that both are identical to A. He concludes that the question is "empty". This point is acknowledgedby Unger 1992. or that neitheris. a theory of personalidentity may wish to extend or modify the concept precisely to deal with hard cases such as division. STEVEN RIEBER 584 .

" he is apparently recommendingan extension of the concept of personalidentity. of course. 182. but Heckmann 1994 shows that Garrett'sargument does not adequately answer the objection from intrinsicness of existence.13 12 13 Johnston1992. 58. Garrett1990 tries to defuse the intrinsicness objection in both forms. 152-57. Cf. The ad hoc objectionhas force only against the claim that the no-branchingtheory explicates the concept as it actually is.12 The nobranching clause preserves the transitivity of identity. It has also been claimed that the no-branching theory contradicts the Intrinsicness of identity: If 'x' and 'y' are rigid designators. the variety of philosophical accounts of who is who in the fission case are best seen as proposals about how to extend our practice to a case where it presently gives no answer. pp.10 Thus when Parfitwrites. Shoemaker 1984 has shown that the no-branching theory does not in fact violate the intrinsicnessof identity. THE CONCEPTOF PERSONALIDENTITY 585 . Andrew Brennancalls this process 'conceptual development'. Finally. pp. if our goal is not to modify the concept of personal identity. If x and y are distinct. p." However. Thatis. we can best describe the case by saying neitherof these people will be me. Thus. but to explicate it as it actuallyis. then our analysis should not include a no-branching clause. then whether x is identical to y cannot depend on anything but x and y. Noonan 1989. if the aim of the analysis is to extend the concept to deal with difficult cases. 345-48. p. 138. Thus a violation of the intrinsicnessof identity would be more serious than a violation of the intrinsicness of existence. but it has no other independent motivation. Garrett1991 accepts this claim of Parfit'sand argues that it implies that persons cannot be ontologically reduced to bodies and experiences. "Since I cannot be identical with two differentpeople. p. Another problem is that the no-branchingtheory seems ad hoc. Cases of division are. and it would be arbitraryto call one of these people me. then whether x exists cannotconceptuallydependon what happensto y. However. then "x is identical to y" expresses a proposition that is necessarily true or false. This objection is made by Brody 1980. p. 299. 603. Garrett1990. but should instead explain why division is intuitively a difficult case. See also Noonan 1989. It is difficult to see why the concept of personal identity should have a componentspecifically to issue a verdict about such reconditecases. as far as we know. 262. the theory violates the Intrinsicness of existence. and Sosa 1990. This is how it is in the fission case. There is no problem with ad hocness. The intrinsicness of identity (also known as the 'only x and y' principle) is a consequence of the Necessity of identity:If x and y are rigid designators. p.sonal identity in that case. 233-37. Parfit 1984. p. 6264. purely imaginaryand are rarely even entertainedoutside of philosophy and science fiction. see Brennan 1988. one much-discussed difficulty is that the no-branching theory implies that the existence of a person can conceptuallydepend on what happens to another person.

II I shall argue that the correct analysis of personal identity is in terms of a definite description.see Sosa 1990.15 It might be objected that the analysis is circular.The no-branchingtheoryimplies that. if fusion is a conceptual possibility and if the resulting person is continuous with both originals. the theory thus violates the intrinsicnessof existheorymight claim that divitence.Whetherthe no-branching is correctas a second-orderanalysisthus dependson whetherRussell's theory can solve these problems-which is a questionI shall leave open. a second-order analysis: the definite descriptionanalysis of personalidentity combined with a Russellian analysis of the definite description.when A divides into B and C. the following two statementsare both true: A does not exist. Again.The no-branchingtheory is. on the no-branchingtheory. To be sure. let's define a continuer as follows: To say that x is a continuerof y is to say that x is continuouswith y.It implies that thereis a determinateanswerto personalidentityin division and that a person who divides does not survive. p. defendersof the no-branching to sion is a counterexample the intrinsicnessof existence. then the definite description analysis ought to contain another clause: To believe/assert that person x at one time is identical with person y at an earlier time is to believe/assert that x is the continuerof y and y is the predecessor of x. the person with B's body would have been identical to A. The no-branchingtheory thus faces a numberof problems. A ceases to exist. Since on the no-branching theory A and C are distinct. But it also implies that if the operationon C had not succeeded.A would have existed. 165. this principlehas some intuitive support. That is to say. and it violates the intrinsicnessof existence.14 Nevertheless. STEVEN RIEBER 586 . 304. If the operationon C had not succeeded. It is true that the 14 15 For other counterexamples. To believe/assertthat person x at one time is identical with person y at an earlier time is to believe/assertthat x is the continuerof y. I propose the following first-orderanalysis: The Definite DescriptionAnalysis. p. it appears to be ad hoc. for the firsttheory orderanalysis is immuneto these problems. First.The difficulties for the nobranchingtheory are ultimately problems for Russell's theory. if anything. and hence A would have existed.for in saying "x is the continuer of y" we are presumablyusing the 'is' of identity. So A's existence depends on what happens to C. and Unger 1990.there is a cost to abandoningit.

THE CONCEPTOF PERSONALIDENTITY 587 . as before. "If one is analysing any concept in giving an account of personal identity. if there is no contextual reason to favor one of the objects over the other as the denotation. The definite description analysis can explain this. Hence this question contains an improper definite description. such a question will seem intuitively to have no determinateanswer. In division. p. Thus. there are two continuers of A. For example. i. a description of the form 'the F' where there is more than one object that is F. and considerthe question: Is B identicalwith A? Accordingto the Shoemakerwrites. Russell's theory of definite descriptionsclaims that a sentence of the form "A is the F" means: 16 Shoemaker 1984."'16Thus the definite description analysis is not viciously circular. Bolivia has two capitals:Sucre and La Paz. The first problem for the no-branchingtheory was that it did not explain why there seems to be no right answerto the question of personalidentity in division. That is because an analysis of personal identity is not primarilyan analysis of identity. 122. Rather. Similarly. the definite descriptionanalysis explains why there seems to be no answerto Is B identicalwith A? The definite descriptionanalysis by itself is thus consistent with the intuitive judgments aboutdivision. this question asks the same as Is B the continuerof A? Now. it is the concept of a person. The no-branching theory runs into trouble because it in effect gives a Russellian analysis of the definite descriptionthe continuer. Suppose. thatA divides into B and C. Considerthe question: Is La Paz the capitalof Bolivia? Neither 'yes' nor 'no' seems right. and is thus subject to all the difficulties facing Russell's theory.e.definite description analysis leaves the notion of identity itself unanalyzed. Is B the continuerof A? seems not to have an answer. since it is not intendedto explicate the concept of identityitself.

Exactly one entity is F. implies that the answer to "Is B identical with A?" is determinatelyno. "Is La Paz the capitalof Bolivia?"means Is it the case that Bolivia has exactly one capital and everythingthat is a capital of Bolivia is La Paz? The answerto this questionis determinately no-which does not accord with ourjudgments about "Is La Paz the capital of Bolivia?"As we will see in the next section. Notice. As Neale 1990. however. "x is the continuerof y" means. that there is no problem at all for the definitedescriptionanalysis by itself. 4447. Russell's theory of descriptionsis not committedto this particular formalism. What about the definite description analysis: does it imply that A does not exist after division? To ask this is to ask whether The continuerof A does not exist 17 Formally:(3x)(Fx & ((Vy)(Fy D y=x) & x=a)). in other words. See Russell 1905. as we saw. x is continuouswith y and no one else is continuouswith y -which is the no-branching theory. For on Russell's theory.On Russell's theory. shows. When we combine the two. It is only when the definite description analysis is combined with Russell's theory of descriptionsthat trouble arises. a defenderof Russell and the no-branching theoryis not without responses to these difficulties. we get the no-branchingtheory. this question means the same as Is it the case that B is continuouswith A and no one else is continuous with A? The answer to this question is definitely no. The no-branchingtheory implied that to divide is to cease to exist. which. accordingto Russell: Exactly one entity is continuouswith y. and that entity is x or.In short: The definite description analysis of personal identity + Russell's analysis of descriptions= The no-branching theory of personalidentity."7 Thus. In general. STEVEN RIEBER 588 . Russell's theory has trouble with improperdefinite descriptions. and that entity is A. pp.

ratherthan 'a capital'. it does not seem that The capitalof Bolivia does not exist is true. Russell's analysis implies that there is a scope ambiguity in "The capital of Bolivia does not exist". the no-branching theory) implies that "Thecontinuerof A does not exist" says It is not the case thatA has exactly one continuer which is true.Indeed. it does not seem that this statementis true.18 Thus the definite description analysis explains both the intuitive judgments about division and why the no-branchingtheory seems to go wrong. The first step is to point out that as a matter of empiricalfact we implicitly assume that each of us has and can have at most one continuer. This combination (i. Intuitively.because we assume that each of us can have only one continuer. it is because we assume this that we are surprisedand puzzled when we first confronta hypotheticalcase like division in which this assumptionis false.e. Analogously. THE CONCEPTOF PERSONALIDENTITY 589 .it is unlikely to be meant and can be ignored here. Even if we knew virtuallynothing about Nigeria. the difficulty is a general problem for Russell's theory.we find ourselves thinking. And again. we naturallyspeak and think of 'the capital'. it is natural for our thoughts about continuity of persons to contain a definite description. 18 Actually. since-despite a few counterexamples like Bolivia and South Africa-most of us typically assume that a country has only one capital. Again. Can the definite descriptionanalysis be shown not to be ad hoc? Is there an explanationof why the concept of personalidentity should contain a definite description?I think there is."Is the continuer of ?" rather than "Is a continuer of ?" That is to say. it is only when we combine the definite description analysis with Russell's theory that we get into trouble. Thus the definite descriptionanalysis explains why it does not seem correct to say that after division A does not exist. For instance. we would say or think. Thus it is not surprisingthat a definite descriptionshould occur in the analysis of the concept of personalidentity. and every capital of Bolivia does not exist") is self-contradictory. But since the wide-scope reading ("Bolivia has exactly one capital. The second step is to notice that it is naturalto use 'the F' when it is assumedthat there is only one F. "Is Lagos the capital of Nigeria?"ratherthan "Is Lagos a capitalof Nigeria?" true after division. which also implies that "Thecapitalof Bolivia does not exist" says It is not the case thatBolivia has exactly one capital which of course is true.

The theory of descriptions is a large issue which cannot be fully 19 Strawson 1950. If the operationon C had not succeeded. and it avoids the problemsfacing the no-branchingtheory. Although the second of these is true. respectively: The continuerof A does not exist. as we have seen. Still the question remains:What is the truthabout division? The definite description analysis explains why "B is identical with A" seems neither determinately true nor determinatelyfalse. 590 STEVEN RIEBER . we need to know what the correct theory of descriptions would violate this principle. We can conclude that it is the correct first-orderanalysis of personal identity. seems to presuppose-rather than to assert-uniqueness. Were it combined with Russell's analysis of the definite description. and thus the definite descriptionanalysis can explain why the concept of personalidentity seems to do so as well. which as Strawson points out. Another benefit of the definite descriptionanalysis is to explain why the concept of personalidentity seems to presuppose uniqueness. it is far from clear. If the operationon C had not succeeded. But what in fact is its truth value? To answer this question. That is to say.Ourjudgments about personal identity seem to presupposea single continuerbecause these judgments involve a definite description.A would have existed. the continuerof A would have existed. III The definite descriptionanalysis explains our intuitivejudgments. The definite descriptionanalysis by itself does not have this problem. But that combination is not mandatory.How does the definite descriptionanalysis stand in relation to the intrinsicness of existence? Recall thatthe no-branching theoryimplied that the following are trueafterdivision: A does not exist. it is not ad hoc. that the first is true." This is not to say that Strawson is correct in claiming that definite descriptionsmake this presupposition. The point is simply that they seem to do so. It implies that to make the above two statementsis to say. we need to know the correctsecond-orderanalysis of personal identity. So the definite description analysis does not by itself violate the intrisicness of existence. This violates the intrinsicnessof existence.

Later theorists have understoodthis special type of implying as a presupposition. first. I will briefly consider. On Strawson's view. however. p. Alternatively. Again. Since this implication is false in division. So if Strawson is right there is in fact no answer to the question.adjudicatedhere. a definite description 'the F' does not assert that there is exactly one F. despite appearances. what Strawson's theory would say and. This considerationis mentionedby Grice 1989. Strawsonwould say that the sentence expresses no propositionand thus has no truth value. on the definitedescriptionanalysis. see Neale 1990. THE CONCEPTOF PERSONALIDENTITY 591 .21 20 21 Strawson 1950. the sentence containing the definite descriptionassertsno propositionand thus has no truthvalue. Hence to say that B is not identical with A is to say that B is not the continuerof A.Considerthe sentence B is identicalwith A which. is analyzedas B is the continuerof A.2"When this implication is false. On Strawson's theory. Strawson's has been much criticized. 270. In this section.we could use the definite descriptionanalysis as a basis for defending the no-branchingtheory as a second-orderanalysis.this last statement is in fact true in the case of division. how Russell's theory might be defendedagainstsome of the objectionswe have raised. we are assumingthe definitedescriptionanalysis. implies or signals this. Now it might be argued that. this last sentence implies (but does not assert) that there is exactly one continuer of A. Let's assume that the definite description analysis is the correct (firstorder) analysis of personal identity. One relevantconsiderationhere is that statements like the following seem quite acceptable: B is not the continuer of A because there is more than one continuer. for it holds that this judgment is correct. according to Strawson. Like other theories of descriptions. "Whathappens when a person divides?" Thus Strawson's theory together with the definite descriptionanalysis can explain the intuitivejudgment that the question of personal identity in division has no answer. For a good overview. Rather.

Here we can draw on Grice's defense of Russell's theory of descriptions. Again. that A has exactly one continuer. then. these sentences express no propositionand hence have no truthvalue. recall that the main motivation for the no-branchingtheory was to preservethe transitivityof identity. "B is not the continuerof A" in the context of division. the same goes for "B is not identicalwith A. the answer depends on the theory of descriptions. 269-77. This is obvious in the case of Russell.Is the definitedescriptionanalysis consistent with the transitivity of identity? Again. So we only have to consider Strawson's theory. If. is the truthabout division? According to the definite description analysis. pp. namely. both of the following were true: 22 23 Conversationalimplicaturesare meant by the speakerbut are not part of the conventional meaning of the sentence. since we are assuming the definite description analysis.B is not the continuerof A. while the definite description analysis is consistent with such a defense of Russell. it is not committed to Russell's theory any more than it is committedto Strawson's. See Grice 1989. since the definite descriptionanalysis and Russell's theory together constitute the nobranchinganalysis. namely. Finally. then the answer is yes.If Russell is right. See Grice 1989. a sentence of the form " is not the F" conversationally implicates (but does not actually state) that there is exactly one F.Grice arguesthat Russell's theory is correctand that some of its counterintuitive consequences can be explained away as the result of a conversational implicature. after division. it is also incumbenton the defenderof the no-branchingtheory to explain why "B is not the continuer of A" uttered by itself with no stress does not seem true. STEVEN RIEBER 592 .23Hence. So if Grice is right. Strawson is right. both "B is identical with A" and "C is identical with A" are determinately false. will not seem acceptable since it conversationally implicates something that is false. hence to divide is to go out of existence. However. What. by employing arguments(such as Grice's) which have been used to defend Russell. But if either Russell or Strawsonis right. Hence. while true. Transitivity of identity would be violated only if. the answer depends on how definite descriptionsare analyzed. and so there is no answer to the question of personal identity in division. while in fact true.the definitedescriptionanalysis thus shows how the no-branching theory might be defended. 2.22 According to Grice. conversationallyimplicates something that is false. ch. if it is not the case that there is exactly one F.Thus "B is not the continuerof A" is not heard as true even though it is. the sentence " is not the F". on the other hand." By showing that the problems for the no-branchingtheory result from problemsfor Russell's theory of descriptions.

George Rainbolt. But it does tell us where the answer is to be found. Anne Bezuidenhout.these are analyzedas: B is the continuerof A C is the continuerof A. The definite descriptionanalysis offers a simple and non-ad hoc explication of the actualconcept of personalidentity. and Greg Ray for discussion and criticism. Mark Daley.24 24 Many thanks to Robert Almeder. namely. and it shows how thattheorymight be defended. ChristianPerring. Eugene Mills. Now. THE CONCEPTOF PERSONALIDENTITY 593 .By itself it does not answer the question of what happenswhen a persondivides. A version of this paperwas presentedat a colloquium of the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division meeting in April 1996. in the theory of descriptions. James Humber.B is identicalwith A C is identical with A Accordingto the definitedescriptionanalysis. these sentences have no truthvalue. Thus there is no violation of the transitivityof identity.It also explains both the advantages and the drawbacks of the no-branchingtheory. if Strawson is right.

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