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Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology$
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Tamar Szabó Gendler

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199589760

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199589760.001.0001

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Personal Identity and Thought Experiments

Personal Identity and Thought Experiments

Chapter:
(p.74) 4 Personal Identity and Thought Experiments
Source:
Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology
Author(s):

Tamar Szabó Gendler (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199589760.003.0005

This chapter argues that judgments about far‐fetched thought experiments are not helpful in illuminating the concept of personal identity. This is because certain patterns of features that coincide only fortuitously may nonetheless play a central role in the organization of our concepts, and to the extent that imaginary scenarios involve disruptions of these patterns, our first‐order judgments about them may be distorted or even inverted. The core of the essay consists of a detailed assessment and critique of Derek Parfit's widely discussed contention that fission cases reveal that “personal identity is not what matters.” It suggests that Parfit's argument rests on a subtle misapplication of Mill's Method of Agreement.

Keywords:   imaginary case, philosophical thought experiment, personal identity, concept, Derek Parfit, fission, Method of Agreement, philosophical methodology

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