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If You Know You Have Alzheimer's, How Do You Regard The Person Who Will Inherit Your Body? Is That Person You? How Is This Case Connected With Philosophical Theories Of Personal Identity?

769 words - 3 pages

I discover that I have Alzheimer's and that within the space of a year I will lose all my memories and all my character traits. I regard the person who will inherit my body during this time as one and the same person, numerically identical to the person who has been present in my body for my whole life previous to Alzheimer's, but with a high level of qualitative identity. I believe that it is not my memories that make me myself nor is it my character traits, but rather, it is the fact that there is bodily continuity between me without Alzheimer's and me without any of my memories. The case of whether one holds this view or holds a different view is very closely connected with the various philosophical theories of personal identity. These theories are namely the psychological continuity view held by Parfit, the bodily continuity view, and the view that a persisting person is marked out by their memories, held by Locke.Locke believed that for a person, Y, at T2 to be one and the same person as X at T1 he must remember doing what X did at T1. He holds the view that a persisting person is marked out by their memories. This view though can be easily argued against, for example according to Locke's theory a human being suffering from total amnesia ceases to exist as that person and a new person is created. I believe that this is a definite weakness in Locke's theory. I would suggest that if one remembers ones actions and then forgets them, it does not indicate the end of a person's existence and the 'birth' or creation of a new person. It indicates, rather, the need for Locke's theory to be revised and updated for it to uphold relevance in the argument of personal identity.Locke's theory can also be seen as offering incoherent statements about personal identity, as seen by the argument that the philosopher Thomas Reid raises about the gallant officer. Reid's example is as follows: Reid gives us the example of a 'boy [who] steals apples from a tree, then he grows into a gallant officer who wins a battle, and then he grows into an old man.' (Lecture Notes) Reid then states that if we go by Locke's theory and the officer...

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