Concept

The current debate on personal identity is mainly dominated by three different approaches:

(1) Ontological approaches that focus on the complex substantial condition of persons and their spatio-temporal structure.

(2) Mentalistic or psychological approaches that focus on the structure of a person’s subjectivity and the continuity of memory.

(3) Agent-oriented approaches that take into account the practical identity of persons in moral actions, narrativity, and biographic life forms.

Whereas ontological approaches tend to ignore questions concerning the practical life form of persons and their normative status, practical approaches, by contrast, tend to ignore their ontological status. Likewise, mentalistic approaches often exclude ontological questions or tend to endorse a reductionist view that cannot do justice to the practical and normative existence of persons. However, an elaborated concept of personal identity demands taking into account both ontological and practical dimensions. For that purpose, the scientific network aims at making explicit the implicit ontology of prominent contemporary conceptions of personal identity in order to connect the different approaches. Thereby the relationship between underlying ontology and specific forms of personal existence such as self-consciousness, structure of the will, and normativity shall be analyzed. Of special importance will be the ontological commitments of current practical and narrative approaches, as well as the practical implications of current ontological theories. Thus, the aim of the scientific network consists in identifying the systematic coordinates of the current debate on personal identity and to define an ontological map within which the different practical and mentalistic approaches can be situated. Finally, a non-reductive concept of personal identity shall be developed that equally considers the above-mentioned approaches.