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Philosophy Writing Assignemnt About Personal Identity (Essay Sample)


Choose one of the following prompts for your paper.
John Locke's theory of personal identity
First, present John Locke's memory theory of personal identity. This will require that you explain (a) Locke's conception of personhood, (b) his claim that personal identity consists in psychological, rather than bodily, continuity, and (c) his claim that psychological continuity means memory connections between psychological states. Second, explain Thomas Reid's argument against Locke's theory of personal identity (I will post Reid's argument on Blackboard). Third, provide a response to Reid's argument on Locke's behalf. Here, you are providing a response to Reid on Locke's behalf, given your understanding of Locke's theory. In other words, given Locke's memory theory of personal identity, how might Locke respond to Reid's challenge. 
Make sure that your paper includes both an introductory paragraph in which you state explicitly what you are going to argue in your paper, and a conclusion in which you sum up what you've claimed in your paper.
Choose your own topic
If you'd like to write on a topic other than Locke's theory of personal identity, you may do so (if, for instance, you find one of the other topics discussed more interesting).
You could write about
Taylor's cosmological argument for the existence of God
Taylor's design argument for the existence of God
Williams's thought experiment motivating a bodily continuity theory of personal identity
Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment against AI
Something else that you'd like to write about
Should you choose one of these topics (or something else entirely), your paper must conform to the following format:
Present the main argument for the topic you've chosen
Provide an argument against the argument given in (1)
Present an argument against the argument given in (2) from the perspective of the position defended in (1)
Basically, the structure should look like this: A; B rebuts A; A rebuts B. Should you choose to write about a topic other than Locke's memory theory of personal identity, it would be a good idea to discuss it with me prior to writing your paper.
Make sure that your paper includes both an introductory paragraph in which you state explicitly what you are going to argue in your paper, and a conclusion in which you sum up what you've claimed in your paper.


Student’s Name
Professor’s Name
Date of Submission
Personal Identity
The theory of personal identity has been studied by philosophers over time. Questions arise on what makes a person one the same person from one moment to another, and what does being a person necessarily consists of. Many philosophers have tried to explain the existence of personal identity especially in regard to who they are and what happens after death. In trying to explain personal identity, philosophers have come up with necessary and appropriate conditions that pinpoint the identity of a person over time. One philosopher who has extensively explained the concept of personal identity is John Locke. In an essay he authored in 1690, Locke proposes the idea of personal identity. This paper explains Locke’s idea of personal identity based on what is personhood (individual person), personal identity as being a psychological continuity, and continuity based on psychological states. The paper also analyzes Thomas Reid’s argument against Locke’s ideas of personal identity and consciousness, and how Locke would respond to this criticism.
According to Locke’s memory theory of personal identity, personal identity can only be defined in terms of consciousness and not substance. Locke claims a person cannot be defined as a substance because human beings do not experience the substance. To expound, Locke argues that personhood or personal identity is based on consciousness as opposed to the substance of either the soul or the body. This means that a person is the same in as long as or to the extent that the person is conscious or has the memory of the past thoughts and actions in the same way one is conscious of the current thoughts and actions. In this way, consciousness is what creates personal identity. For example, a person is a creature whose identity comprises of its life just like a tree but for a ‘person’ there is a particular form of consciousness that a tree does not have. In this way, a person has the properties of being conscious, self-aware, as well as rational. The consciousness of a person denotes the current mental states, awareness of one’s body, and awareness of the past and these memories lead to personal identity.
In this way, according to Locke, personal identity comprises of psychological continuity and not bodily continuity. For example, if a person can no longer remember the past such as a person with amnesia, he/she is no longer the same person he was before he/she lost the memory. What is important to ensure personal identity is to have the memories or be consciousness of the past thoughts or actions in the same way one is conscious of the present. Further, if consciousness denotes the “thought” that matches the substance (body), which makes the same person, it means that personal identity is based on repeated act of consciousness. Basically, Locke claims that the memories must be continually present without being broken for personal identity to exist. For example, Locke argues any person could claim to be Plato by possessing the sam

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