Self-made People

Mind 125 (500):1071-1099 (2016)
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The Problem of Overlappers is a puzzle about what makes it the case, and how we can know, that we have the parts we intuitively think we have. In this paper, I develop and motivate an overlooked solution to this puzzle. According to what I call the self-making view it is within our power to decide what we refer to with the personal pronoun ā€˜Iā€™, so the truth of most of our beliefs about our parts is ensured by the very mechanism of self-reference. Other than providing an elegant solution to the Problem of Overlappers, the view can be motivated on independent grounds. It also has wide-ranging consequences for how we should be thinking about persons. Among other things, it can help undermine an influential line of argument against the permissibility of elective amputation. After a detailed discussion and defence of the self-making view, I consider some objections to it. I conclude that none of these objections is persuasive and we should at the very least take seriously the idea that we are to some extent self-made.
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