Thursday, November 30, 2006

Parfit, Persons and Integrity

And now for a complete change of pace.

Once upon a time I started doing graduate research at Cambridge University in the Philosophy of Mind, and I began by looking at Derek Parfit's book "Reasons and Persons". If you're interested in such things, I have now uploaded an 8,000 word review, which is available here.

I basically argue that he's an unreconstructed Cartesian, so I'm not arguing for anything novel. (It was supposed to be chapter one of the PhD which never materialised).

This is the first paragraph, which will give you a flavour of the essay - both content and style!

In this essay I shall be considering the account of personal identity proposed by Derek Parfit in his work ‘Reasons and Persons’ . I intend to first explore Parfit’s own understanding, place it in the context of contemporary debate, and then show how his approach is conditioned by the framework that he shares with his contemporaries. I shall then show how that framework needs to be rejected, and indicate some possible ways in which the debate might develop as a consequence. The plan of the essay is as follows:

a) overview of Parfit’s argument;
b) initial criticisms of the argument and errors of fact or logic;
c) Parfit’s position in the contemporary debate, and an assessment of the anthropology shared in the debate;
d) the problems with this anthropology;
e) conclusion and consideration of next steps.

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