[ExI] agency-based personal identity

gts gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 26 15:46:35 UTC 2007

Stathis wrote to me in another thread:

> The only bulletproof philosophical theory of personal identity (which
> perhaps you have hinted at in an earlier post) is the minimal theory
> that you are who you are *for that moment*, with all the rest being
> tacked on and contingent on the particular way our psychology has
> evolved.

Yes, that is close to my meaning.

I start with a very basic and minimalist observation: that one's will at  
any given moment is unique in the universe. From there I take it that  
where there is a unique will, there is a unique agent to execute that  
will. Agency serves the will.

The identity of an agent is preserved even when the agent is obedient to  
the will of another, or to the corporate will of the community or of the  
"hive". To will to do the will of another is only to do one's own will.

Will also defines identity in a social or legal context: love and  
friendship arise from compatible wills, while crimes and torts occur when  
one agent forces its will on another agent innocent of having done the  

Wherever we find a unique will, there also we find a unique legal and  
social person.


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