Professor Rob Rupert (University of Colorado and University of Edinburgh) speaks at “Exploring the Undermind”, a one-day research event at the University of Edinburgh, 15th July 2016.
Abstract: If the bodily criterion of personal identity were paramount, ridiculous results would seem to follow. One could be Socrates by day and Plato by night, psychologically speaking, yet still be the same person (as Locke suggests), simply in virtue of being the same organism over time. In this talk, I argue to the contrary, that the only reasonable response to the frequent, significant (but nonclinical) differences in cognitive profiles attached to the same organism is to endorse a bodily criterion of personal identity over time. I argue as follows: (1) that the central theoretical construct of cognitive science is the cognitive system, (2) that the cognitive system is the best cognitive-science approved candidate for a psychological self, (3) that cognitive systems are best characterized in broadly functionalist terms, (4) that partly as a result of our interaction with the environment, our bodies house many different cognitive systems – and thus many different psychological selves – at different times, and thus (5) that unless we accept a bodily criterion for personal identity, we are faced with an unacceptable proliferation of selves.