The Role of Appropriation in Locke's Account of Persons and Personal Identity

Locke Studies 16:3–39 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


According to Locke, appropriation is a precondition for moral responsibility and thus we can expect that it plays a distinctive role in his theory. Yet it is rare to find an interpretation of Locke’s account of appropriation that does not associate it with serious problems. To make room for a more satisfying understanding of Locke’s account of appropriation we have to analyse why it was so widely misunderstood. The aim of this paper is fourfold: First, I will show that Mackie’s and Winkler’s interpretations that have shaped the subsequent discussion contain serious flaws. Second, I will argue that the so-called appropriation interpretation —that is the view that appropriation is meant to provide alternative persistence conditions for persons—lacks support. Third, I will re-examine Locke’s texts and argue that we can come to a better understanding of his notion of appropriation in the Essay if we interpret it in analogy to his account of appropriation in Two Treatises. Fourth, I will offer a more fine-grained interpretation of the role of appropriation in relation to persistence conditions for persons. I conclude by showing that the advantage of this proposal is that it reconciles interpretations that have commonly been thought to be inconsistent.

Author's Profile

Ruth Boeker
University College Dublin


Added to PP

309 (#29,069)

6 months
23 (#46,975)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?