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Simon Beck
University of the Western Cape
  1. The Misunderstandings of the Self-Understanding View.Simon Beck - 2013 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (1):33-42.
    There are two currently popular but quite different ways of answering the question of what constitutes personal identity: the one is usually called the psychological continuity theory (or Psychological View) and the other the narrative theory.1 Despite their differences, they do both claim to be providing an account—the correct account—of what makes someone the same person over time. Marya Schechtman has presented an important argument in this journal (Schechtman 2005) for a version of the narrative view (the ‘Self-Understanding View’) over (...)
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  2. Parfit and the Russians.Simon Beck - 1989 - Analysis 49 (4):205.
    The paper takes a close look at Derek Parfit’s example of the Nineteenth Century Russian in 'Reasons and Persons'. Parfit presents it as an example which illustrates the moral consequences of adopting his reductionist view of personal identity in a positive light. I argue that things turn out to be more complex than he envisages, and that it might be far more difficult to live in his world than he allows.
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  3. Transplant Thought-Experiments: Two Costly Mistakes in Discounting Them.Simon Beck - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):189-199.
    ‘Transplant’ thought-experiments, in which the cerebrum is moved from one body to another, have featured in a number of recent discussions in the personal identity literature. Once taken as offering confirmation of some form of psychological continuity theory of identity, arguments from Marya Schechtman and Kathleen Wilkes have contended that this is not the case. Any such apparent support is due to a lack of detail in their description or a reliance on predictions that we are in no position to (...)
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  4. The Extreme Claim, Psychological Continuity and the Person Life View.Simon Beck - 2015 - South African Journal of Philosophy 34 (3):314-322.
    Marya Schechtman has raised a series of worries for the Psychological Continuity Theory of personal identity (PCT) stemming out of what Derek Parfit called the ‘Extreme Claim’. This is roughly the claim that theories like it are unable to explain the importance we attach to personal identity. In her recent Staying Alive (2014), she presents further arguments related to this and sets out a new narrative theory, the Person Life View (PLV), which she sees as solving the problems as well (...)
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  5. A Sporting Dilemma and its Jurisprudence.Patrick Lenta & Simon Beck - 2006 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 33 (2):125-143.
    Our purpose in this article is to draw attention to a connection that obtains between two dilemmas from two separate spheres: sports and the law. It is our contention that umpires in the game of cricket may face a dilemma that is similar to a dilemma confronted by legal decision makers and that comparing the nature of the dilemmas, and the arguments advanced to solve them, will serve to advance our understanding of both the law and games.
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  6. Causal Copersonality: In Defence of the Psychological Continuity Theory.Simon Beck - 2011 - South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (2):244-255.
    The view that an account of personal identity can be provided in terms of psychological continuity has come under fire from an interesting new angle in recent years. Critics from a variety of rival positions have argued that it cannot adequately explain what makes psychological states co-personal (i.e. the states of a single person). The suggestion is that there will inevitably be examples of states that it wrongly ascribes using only the causal connections available to it. In this paper, I (...)
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  7. Our Identity, Responsibility and Biology.Simon Beck - 2004 - Philosophical Papers:3-14.
    Eric Olson argues in The Human Animal that thought-experiments involving body-swapping do not in the end offer any support to psychological continuity theories, nor do they pose any threat to his Biological View. I argue that he is mistaken in at least the second claim.
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  8.  46
    Who Gets a Place in Person-Space?Simon Beck & Oritsegbubemi Oyowe - 2018 - Philosophical Papers 47 (2):183-198.
    We notice a number of interesting overlaps between the views on personhood of Ifeanyi Menkiti and Marya Schechtman. Both philosophers distance their views from the individualistic ones standard in western thought and foreground the importance of extrinsic or relational features to personhood. For Menkiti, it is ‘the community which defines the person as person’; for Schechtman, being a person is to have a place in person-space, which involves being seen as a person by others. But there are also striking differences. (...)
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  9. Going Narrative: Schechtman and the Russians.Simon Beck - 2008 - South African Journal of Philosophy 27 (2):69-79.
    Marya Schechtman's The Constitution of Selves presented an impressive attempt to persuade those working on personal identity to give up mainstream positions and take on a narrative view instead. More recently, she has presented new arguments with a closely related aim. She attempts to convince us to give up the view of identity as a matter of psychological continuity, using Derek Parfit's story of the “Nineteenth Century Russian” as a central example in making the case against Parfit's own view, and (...)
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  10.  53
    Reconsidering a Transplant: A Response to Wagner.Simon Beck - 2016 - South African Journal of Philosophy 35 (2):132-140.
    Nils-Frederic Wagner takes issue with my argument that influential critics of “transplant” thought experiments make two cardinal mistakes. He responds that the mistakes I identify are not mistakes at all. The mistakes are rather on my part, in that I have not taken into account the conceptual genesis of personhood, that my view of thought experiments is idiosyncratic and possibly self-defeating, and in that I have ignored important empirical evidence about the relationship between brains and minds. I argue that my (...)
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  11. Martha Nussbaum and the Foundations of Ethics: Identity, Morality and Thought-Experiments.Simon Beck - 2009 - South African Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):261-270.
    Martha Nussbaum has argued in support of the view (supposedly that of Aristotle) that we can, through thought-experiments involving personal identity, find an objective foundation for moral thought without having to appeal to any authority independent of morality. I compare the thought-experiment from Plato’s Philebus that she presents as an example to other thought-experiments involving identity in the literature and argue that this reveals a tension between the sources of authority which Nussbaum invokes for her thought-experiment. I also argue that (...)
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  12. Morals, Metaphysics and the Method of Cases.Simon Beck - 2010 - South African Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):332-342.
    In this paper I discuss a set of problems concerning the method of cases as it is used in applied ethics and in the metaphysical debate about personal identity. These problems stem from research in social psychology concerning our access to the data with which the method operates. I argue that the issues facing ethics are more worrying than those facing metaphysics.
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  13. Can Parables Work?Simon Beck - 2011 - Philosophy and Theology 23 (1):149-165.
    While theories about interpreting biblical and other parables have long realised the importance of readers’ responses to the topic, recent results in social psychology concerning systematic self-deception raise unforeseen problems. In this paper I first set out some of the problems these results pose for the authority of fictional thought-experiments in moral philosophy. I then consider the suggestion that biblical parables face the same problems and as a result cannot work as devices for moral or religious instruction in the way (...)
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  14. Let's Exist Again (Like We Did Last Summer).Simon Beck - 2001 - South African Journal of Philosophy 20 (2):159-170.
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  15. Counterfactuals and the Law.Simon Beck - 1993 - South African Journal of Philosophy 12 (3).
    This article is concerned with the place counterfactual reasoning occupies in South African law, and how philosophy might be able to help the law. I point out some of the more important and unavoidable uses of counterfactual reasoning in our law. Following this I make some suggestions as to how philosophy, and especially informal logic, can be of help to the law. Finally, I make some suggestions as to how the law in turn can help philosophy.
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  16. Fiction and Fictions: On Ricoeur on the Route to the Self.Simon Beck - 2006 - South African Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):329-335.
    In reaching his narrative view of the self in Oneself as Another, Paul Ricoeur argues that, while literature offers revealing insights into the nature of the self, the sort of fictions involving brain transplants, fission, and so on, that philosophers often take seriously do not (and cannot). My paper is a response to Ricoeur's charge, contending that the arguments Ricoeur rejects are not flawed in the way he suggests, and that his own arguments are sometimes guilty of the very charges (...)
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  17. Understanding Ourselves Better.Simon Beck - 2013 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (1):51-55.
    Marya Schechtman and Grant Gillett acknowledge that my case in ‘The misunderstandings of the Self-Understanding View’ (2013) has some merits, but neither is moved to change their position and accept that the Psychological View has more going for it (and the Self-Understanding View less) than Schechtman originally contended. Schechtman thinks her case could be better expressed, and then the deficiencies of the Psychological View will be manifest. That view is committed to Locke’s insight about the importance of phenomenological connections to (...)
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  18. Cognition, Persons, Identity.Simon Beck - 2003 - Alternation 10 (1):195-215.
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  19. Points of Concern.Simon Beck - 2000 - Theoria 47 (96):121-130.
    This is a critical review of Raymond Martin's 'Self-Concern'(1998).
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  20.  27
    Points of Concern.Simon Beck - 2000 - Theoria 47:121-130.
    This is a critical review of Raymond Martin's 'Self-Concern' (1998), focusing especially on his criticism of Parfit's use of fission thought-experiments and his own 'fission rejuvenation' thought-experiment.
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