Many of our common sense ideas of what people deserve (e.g., rewards and punishments, etc.) rely on the concept of “personal identity.” When philosophers talk about “personal identity” they mean the idea that, over time, each of us as individuals is one and the same person. I am, in some sense, the very same person as I was last week and you are, in some sense, the very same person as you were last week. This is why we think, for instance, it is fair for me to give you a grade for an assignment that you turned in, say, a week ago. If you, today, were not the very same person as the one who turned the assignment in, it would be unjustifiable for me to reward or punish you for what was done on that assignment. Given that, what do you think personal identity consists in? What, exactly, is it that makes me the very same person that I was last week, last month, last year, or even a decade ago? Give examples if necessary. (Hint: be careful here. It can’t be simply because I have the very same biological construction. After all, very few of the cells that made up my body even a handful of years ago are still alive.)
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