Did Locke Defend the Memory Continuity Criterion of Personal Identity?

Locke Studies 10:113-129 (2010)
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Abstract

John Locke’s account of personal identity is usually thought to have been proved false by Thomas Reid’s simple ‘Gallant Officer’ argument. Locke is traditionally interpreted as holding that your having memories of a past person’s thoughts or actions is necessary and sufficient for your being identical to that person. This paper argues that the traditional memory interpretation of Locke’s account is mistaken and defends a memory continuity view according to which a sequence of overlapping memories is necessary and sufficient for personal identity. On this view Locke is not vulnerable to the Gallant Officer argument.

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Johan E. Gustafsson
University of Texas at Austin

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