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Was I ever a fetus?

Olson, E.T. (1997) Was I ever a fetus? Philosophy and Phenomenological Society, 57 (1). pp. 95-110. ISSN 0031-8205


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The Standard View of personal identity says that someone who exists now can exist at another time only if there is continuity of her mental contents or capacities. But no person is psychologically continuous with a fetus, for a fetus, at least early in its career, has no mental features at all. So the Standard View entails that no person was ever a fetus--contrary to the popular assumption that an unthinking fetus is a potential person. It is also mysterious what does ordinarily happen to a human fetus, if it does not come to be a person. Although an extremely complex variant of the Standard View may allow one to persist without psychological continuity before one becomes a person but not afterwards, a far simpler solution is to accept a radically non-psychological account of our identity.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Reprinted with permission from the International Phenomenological Society.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Department of Philosophy (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Sherpa Assistant
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2005
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2014 18:15
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/772

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