A Mind of One's Own 1
Tweedledum and Tweedledee Agreed to have a battle; For Tweedledum said Tweedledee Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow, As black as a tar-barrel; Which frightened both our heroes so, They quite forgot their quarrel
Whatever good or ill it did to Guy Fawkes, his resuscitation at the hands of Bernard Williams has, by any utilitarian reckoning, been a Good Thing. A casual glance at the literature that has accumulated over the past thirty five years leaves no doubt that the topic has been reduplicated many times over, to the great enjoyment of undergraduates, who have been able to write science fiction under the guise of essays in the Philosophy of Mind, and of dons, who in an age of cvs and Assessments, have been able to notch up page after page of counter-replies to replies to rebuttals of previous papers, not to mention an often welcome tally of references in the citation index. But the actual arguments adduced by Williams can be turned to support a much more traditional view of the self, as a necessarily unique agent whose individuality is established by his capacity for autonomous action.
The original target of the Reduplication Argument was the modified Lockean position which made memory-claims, along with character traits and first-personal avowals, the definitive criteria of personal identity. Such an account seems to fit our actual practices, acknowledges the prime importance of the first-personal standpoint, allows for the intelligibility of Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde and the various Miss Beauchamps, and for the widespread human hopes and fears of a life after death, and all this without being very strongly committed to any particular metaphysical scheme. But it fails, the Reduplication Argument claims, to guarantee uniqueness. The memory claims of Guy Fawkes could be put forward by more than one person, each sincerely believing that he was Guy Fawkes, had attempted Direct Action to rid the realm of its heretical regime, and had suffered an unpleasant fate in consequence. Just as physical appearance and behaviour can be duplicated, so memory claims, character traits, and avowals of identity can, in principle, be duplicated too. If ever we were presented with grounds for identifying someone as Guy Fawkes, it is logically possible that there could be another candidate with exactly the same features, and therefore equally worthy to be identified as Guy Fawkes. Having unreservedly accepted the first as the genuine Guy, we should feel proper Charlies on encountering the second, and either, like Buridan's ass, conclude that since they cannot both be, they neither of them can be, the real Seventeenth-Century assassin, or else seek some further surety for uniqueness.
Williams was led to the view that the one feature that could not be duplicated was bodily continuity, and he, and many others after him, concluded that bodily continuity was the constitutive condition of personal identity. But continuity occupies a curious place in our conceptual structure. It is a constitutive condition of a corpuscle's (or atom's, or material point-particle's) being the same corpuscle, because corpuscles are idealised things, possessing no other essential qualities, necessarily occupying some place or other at any one time, but without there being any place that any necessarily occupies at any given time. Granted then the two further theses that a thing cannot be in two places at the same time, and that two things cannot be in the same place at the same time, spatio-temporal continuity emerges as the only available criterion of identity for corpuscles. But material objects are not idealised things, and animal organisms even less so. It is only a contingent, not a necessary truth that material objects do not divide or join up like rain drops, and it is not even contingently true that organisms do not: witness the amoeba cited by Lord Quinton. 2 Although in point of fact we never have seen anyone getting fatter and fatter, and then after a Siamese phase ending up as two identical twins, such a possibility is no more far-fetched than tele-transportation, or indeed meeting two people (except inside a lunatic asylum) each possessed of all the characteristics and memory-claims of Guy Fawkes. If we adopt a materialist metaphysics, then spatio-temporal continuity is the condition necessarily satisfied by material point-particles that confers necessary uniqueness on them. But human bodies are processes rather than things, processes involving a continual flow of energy and matter, with no particular material particles reliably continuing as permanent constituents of any human body. If, on the other hand, we eschew metaphysics, spatio-temporal continuity is no more available as a bedrock guarantee of uniqueness than the ordinary Lockean criteria.
Although bodily continuity may not be able to make good the inadequacies of the traditional account, the traditional account remains demonstrably inadequate: personal identity is necessarily unique, but every characterization of a person in terms of memory claims about the past or other present mental features, habits, or abilities, can be duplicated. If the one physical condition which can identify material point-particles with absolute reliability is not available for human bodies, it seems as if we must either follow Parfit and dispense with the notion of personal identity altogether, or feel it to be a fortunate but precarious fact that we are not living in a Versailles world, endlessly meeting further Fawkes, and catching glimpses of our own alter egos disappearing through reflecting doors. But this is to despair too soon. We can form a stereoscopic view of personal identity, but to do so, we must be prepared to vary our standpoint, and to conjugate. We need to conjugate over tense and mood, considering not only the actual present and unalterable past, but the possible future; we need to conjugate over voice, considering ourselves not only as the subjects of experience but as the initiators of action; and over person, considering not only third-personal ascriptions of identity, but first-personal avowals, and second-personal discourse.
Locke held `person' to be a forensic term, whereby people were held responsible for what they had done, and blamed for what they had done amiss. But though at this present time I can only remember having done some particular deed in the past, at one time I was deliberating, and was making up my mind whether I should do it or not. At that time it was not a matter of my merely having certain experiences, putative memories of having done it in the past, but of my forming an intention for the future and actually carrying it out. I was an agent, not passively experiencing but actively doing. And until I had carried out my intention, it was an open question whether or not I actually would. Although now that I have done it, the deed is done beyond recall, it was at one time only a possibility, with its being still up to me whether or not it would actually be realised.
The importance of future possibility is shown by an example from Alice Through the Looking Glass. Tweedledum and Tweedledee were more than ordinary identical twins: they shared consciousness and experiences. Each knew what the other was doing, felt the other's pains, and remembered what the other had done. We might be tempted to say that there was only one person, Tweedle, but with two bodies. Bilocation seems perfectly intelligible, and would have advantages for a busy academic, with 2.8 engagements for every available hour. While one of me was dutifully present at a Faculty meeting, my happier half could be reading a good book, or getting on with revising a typescript, only occasionally interrupted by the need to know which proposal my dutiful half was voting against. With four arms and four eyes I could make much better use of my time than I currently do. So long as there were unity of control, and my Faculty half could not vote against the better judgement of my library half, it would be right to regard me as two bodies with but a single mind, and therefore just one person. It would be quite different if there were, or at least potentially could be, some conflict. Then there would be two of us, perhaps in very close telepathic communication, and often of one mind on matters of importance, but not necessarily agreeing on all things. If, as Alice was assured, Tweedledum can quarrel with Tweedledee, then they are indeed two separate centres of decision-making, and not two arms of the one unified Tweedle. Tweedledum has a mind of his own, different from Tweedledee's, since he can make it up differently. Even if they always in fact agree, they could differ, and so are different. Having a mind of one's own is being able to make it up differently.
The future encompasses many possibilities, whereas the present consists of only one actuality, and the past of only one unalterable course of events. In talking about the future, therefore, we have to consider all possibilities: if Tweedledum and Tweedledee can decide to attempt different things, then, whatever the harmony hitherto, there is some future possibility in which one is trying to counter what the other is trying to do; if Tweedledum and Tweedledee cannot decide to attempt different things, then among all the possible future courses of events there is none that represents the one trying to thwart what the other is endeavouring to achieve. And since we are already in the realm of possibility, there is no room for a further appeal to possible duplication to confuse identity. If we are faced with someone plausibly claiming to be Guy Fawkes, it is always possible that there should be someone else, with the same features and same memory claims, also a plausible candidate for being Guy. But then let them meet each other. If each denounces the other as an impostor, then we can be at least sure that they are not both the same person in the way that Tweedle, were it not for the possibility of battle, might be: they are not both Guy Fawkes; one of them at least is an impostor; we may not be able to tell which, and we may have another Tichborne case on our hands. But that will be good news for the lawyers rather than bad news for the philosophers. If on the other hand, each treats the other with fraternal affection, taking him for granted as a fully accredited and completely apprised fellow worker in the Fawkes field of endeavour, we have a bilocated person enjoying two bodies but with only one will. When we survey the future, either there is a possible course of events in which the two putative Fawkes fight, or there is not: if the former, they are different persons, not both Guy Fawkes; if the latter, there is only one person we are dealing with. There is no third alternative: having considered all possibilities already, there are no further ones to generate further putative persons. Moreover, the all-or-none character of all possibilities secures the all-or-none character also of individual identity. When dealing with individuals, there is no room for a nicely calculated less or more: each someone is definitely a one, as well as necessarily not anyone else. By considering all the possible actions of an agent, we secure that each is one and all alone, and ever more shall be so.
Locke can be fairly charged with having neglected the future in his account of personal identity, but Williams cannot, and in ``The Self and the Future'' argues from the self's future concern for itself: but concern presupposes the possibility of action and thus of intention. I am afraid of being tortured: and therefore I take action to avoid it. If I did not, other things being equal, try to avoid being tortured, I could not be said to be afraid of being tortured. So we can ask at different stages in Williams' account who would try to take avoiding action. Suppose the torturer were to drop his guard, and leave the prison door open: it would be the person who was going to be the inhabitant of A's body at the time of torture who would self-interestedly want to escape. The decision-maker is the person who can try to avoid the threatened evil, and is concerned to do so. Often puzzle cases in the philosophy of mind are constructed in which we are invited to imagine ourselves in some dreadful situation paralysed or completely under the control of a mad scientist. But such situations are, not only fortunately but necessarily, untypical. We are, first and foremost, agents: were we not agents, it is doubtful whether we could be patients either---consciousness is very largely a feedback on endeavour---and we certainly could not have the concept of a person that we do have. Ego, ergo ago. As I contemplate the dreadful things that might happen to someone, I identify with him whose actions then, should circumstances turn out to be less unpropitious than currently portrayed, I can decide upon now.
Two theses underly this account of personal identity: the freedom of the will and the rational autonomy of agents. Because their wills are free, Tweedledum and Tweedledee can decide to do something different; it is up to them what they do, and it is open to them to quarrel. If they were determined by antecedent circumstance, then there would be no range of possibilities open to them, but only one single course of events, and no distinction between the prediction that they would not in fact quarrel and the claim that they could not do so. It would not matter very much whether we regarded them as the same or as different individuals: what really determined the course of events was antecedent circumstance, and the apparent predilections of the people we came across would be at best epiphenomena, not effective causal factors in determining what was going to happen.
But freedom by itself might seem a poor thing, freedom to do differently only by doing wrong. If there is only one correct course, then either we do it or else we do something wrong. Although it is up to me whether or not I toe the line, if the line were laid down quite independently of me, the only question for me would be to decide is whether I should go along with doing the right thing or manifest my freedom by committing some acte gratuit. But although much of moral and other reasoning is black-and-white, with only one course of action being the reasonable and right one to adopt, this is far from being universally the case. Even in mathematics, the concept of truth outruns that of provability: however fully we formalise a mathematical system, it is possible for some mathematical formula to be true, even though it cannot be proved within it. Minds can be individual by being creative, and not merely by straying from the path of the reasonable and right. And not only in mathematics can I be guided to a truth which goes beyond existing canons of proof; in life generally I can be an autonomous agent, making up my mind not only about what I shall do, but about what I should do, in such a way that I can be said to have decided rightly, though someone else might have been right to decide differently. Values are not monolithic, absolutely the same for all, though they are not completely subjective either: not everything I decide that I shall do is something that I should do, and my decisions about what I should do can be wrong; but they are not necessarily wrong just because they do not coincide with what someone else may correctly decide that he should do.
Since each rational agent can make up his mind what he should do, and to a large extent carry his decisions into practice, it matters very much to us with whom we are dealing. We need to be able to distinguish different agents because they have different patterns of behaviour, and these differences may matter to us very much. Individuals signify, not simply as idiosyncratic obstacles we need to learn to manipulate if we are to achieve our ends, but as sources of value, differing from us in some important respects, but none the less valid and worthy of our our own affirmation and respect.
We can look at this in a Leibnizian way. Underlying the Reduplication Argument is the tension between the necessary uniqueness of the self and the possibility of multiple instantiation of any set of qualities. So long as we are dealing with only a finite set of qualities, they specify some infima species, which only contingently and not necessarily has only a sole specimen. If, however, we move into the infinite realm of possible courses of events, we can hope to specify an individual uniquely by an infinite specification characterizing every response he might make under every set of conditions. If two putative persons would respond to every situation in the same way, then they are one and the same person, numerically identical: if there could be some discordant response, they are to that extent qualitatively as well as numerically distinct. Instead of needing the bodily continuity of the corpuscularians to guarantee the separate individuality of each entity necessarily located in space, each monad differs from every other one by virtue of the way it actualises the infinite potentiality open to it as an agent.
The Leibnizian picture of individuals as infinitely complicated monads, each qualitatively different from all others is important as a prophylactic against a scepticism that has prevented many philosophers from conjugating over persons. They have been confined to the third person by qualms about the first-personal approach. Ghosts of Ryle challenge us to be men and complete the systematic elimination of `I'; the more fastidious feel queasy at the prospect of the beetle getting out of the bottle. But while we should sympathize with those who are in the grip of a theory of meaning, we need not share their affliction. We have experience, most notably of other people but also of concepts, which because they go beyond anything that could be programmed or specified from outside, seem to us to be indubitably real. People have style. Not only men of letters in their literary output, but all of us in our ordinary activities, do things in our own characteristic and inimitable way. Although a well-trained classicist can produce a passable parody of ancient authors, extended imitation is soon distinguished from the real thing, because the real is original, with unanticipated features which ex post facto are recognised as being absolutely right, but which did not conform to any antecedently specified rule. At a much lower level it is often the mark of someone's having understood a concept that he is able to apply it in new cases that lie altogether outside the existing rules, and, at a slightly higher level, of his having got inside a poem or play that he can make critical comments that go beyond the most that the most assiduous student could have mugged up. In the non-denumerably infinite welter of possible performances of possible monads we can distinguish the rational from the irrational even though we do not have any explicitly formulated rule to tell us how to do it. In mathematical terms people are capable of non-algorithmic reasoning which is right without being rule-bound, and individual without being random. Hence it is that we are, most of us, robustly immune to doubts whether we can meaningfully ascribe to another person a first-personal standpoint and private experiences all of his own: we have on occasion felt the force of a individual personality, different from anything we could have thought up for ourselves, yet rational none the less, and that gives us confidence to believe that we are dealing with something real, an entity that is the same on different occasions of encountering it, an entity such as we hold ourselves to be.
So we can conjugate. And we need to. An entirely third-personal account leaves out the essential point, that I am the King of Denmark. If I recognise something as a person, I recognise that he has his own first-personal standpoint, and can use the word `I' to express it in the same way as I do to express mine: and if I re-identify him as a particular person, I ascribe to him the same coherent identity as I assume for myself in my view of my own affairs. Were it not for this, I should not be interested in the identity of individuals, but should be content to identify species, as I am with flowers. Although in each case I may turn out to be wrong in my identification of a person, the point of the claim is to establish him as an alter ego, a particular alter ego with whom I have had dealings in time past, or may have dealings in time to come. If I come to the conclusion that you are the real Guy Fawkes, I am not primarily interested in the corporeal continuity of your body, nor your physical resemblance to him, but in the account you can give of your doings, why you wanted to blow up Parliament, who put you up to it, where you bought the gunpowder, whom you suspect of having leaked your plans to the authorities, what your view of Vatican II is, or whether you still prefer the Tridentine Mass. Having identified you as Guy Fawkes third-personally, I am able to address you in the second person to ask you to give your own account, in the first person, of what you did and why you did it, the view you now take of your misdeeds, your opinions about current affairs, and your plans for the future. Personal identification is important because it opens up the possibility of dialogue in which the person concerned can give a first-hand account, and when he uses the first-person singular, we shall know to which person the word `I' in his mouth refers.
Once we recognise the point of personal identification, we are in a better position to delineate the concept, and, pace Wiggins, 3 to distinguish constitutive conditions of personal identity from criteria. The criteria are features which serve as handy indicators; they are subject to constraints of practicality: they need to be accessible, easy to apply, and reasonably reliable under commonly prevailing conditions, but do not need to exhaust the whole content of the concept, nor to be infallible, nor even reliable under conditions which seldom, if ever, obtain. Faces are nearly always accessible, on account of the inconvenience of covering them up, and we have come to be extraordinarily sensitive to facial features---when postage stamps were first invented, one of the arguments for depicting the Queen's head on them was that it would make forgery much more difficult: with any other design a small error in a copy would escape detection by everyone except an expert, but with a face the smallest variation would be apparent to anyone. Yet in spite of our great sensitivity to faces, every Gaudy brings its crop of embarrassing incidents in which former pupils are obliged to identify themselves after all our covert efforts at third-personal identification have failed. And Gaudies also remind us that often it is habits and characters that preserve important samenesses over long stretches of time. ``He hasn't changed a bit,'' we say of the bald-headed corpulent business man who unloads the same witticisms as the scruffy adolescent in jeans produced at the Freshmen's Welcome, the Second-year Get-together, and the Finalists' Farewell Dinner. So too with literary, musical and artistic style. We can recognise a few sentences of an author, a Mozartian passage, the master's hand in the brushwork on the sleeves, and the imprint of someone's personality in many other diverse and much more general ways.
The fact that we often have to ask people their names has not been sufficiently attended to. It proves the prime importance of the first person even where mere criteria are concerned, and is becoming increasingly important as other ways cease to be available in consequence of the meagre information provided by electronic means of communication. We can parallel the purely auditory world of Strawsonian individuals with an E-mail community in which we never met or heard those we had converse with, but knew them only by the different addresses at the head of messages that flashed up on our VDUs. McTaggart would have found such a world intelligible, and answering, though perhaps a trifle austerely, to his ideal. In spite of difficulties over our initiation into such a community of souls, learning their language and, more particularly, establishing intersubjective referents for common nouns, we could have meaningful dialogues about mathematics, not only elementary number theory, but analysis, the theory of groups, and perhaps even analytic geometry. I myself am inclined to go further, and think I could establish a common concept of a three-dimensional spatial continuum, and even the Lorentz transformation as the proper way of correlating different observers' observations of a common observed world, if there were one. Maybe this is too ambitious, and not even Leibniz could re-establish a harmony of windowed monads communicating with one another but not defined as incorporate in a common material world. But such a picture presupposes that each communicating entity is an individual, and reliably the same individual, who alone knows his own identification number, so that there is no danger of messages to or from JRLucas @ UK.AC.OXFORD.VAX going to, or being attributed to, the wrong person.
The prime importance of the first-personal approach should guide us when we come to consider Derek Parfit's difficult cases. It is the point of ascribing an identity, not the criteria which have served us well in more mundane circumstances, that should carry the most weight with us. In so far as we can make sense of fission and fusion thought experiments, we need to ask how the story is to be told from the inside before attempting to say how we, on the outside, would respond. Let us deal with fusion first. There is an obvious difficulty, analogous to that in spare-part surgery. Transplants are commonly rejected, just because, as we have seen, human bodies are not material objects but processes, more like flames or eddies than pieces of furniture or wooden ships, and what counts is not the material particles composing a body at any one time, but the metabolic flow of matter and energy, and the information implicit in the organization of the organism. In the same way any hypothetical experiment involving the fusion of two personalities would have comparable difficulties in integrating disparate memories into one coherent and plausible history of the putative person. Of course, a story can be told of a mad scientist getting hold of me, and implanting some of the memories of Jane, and of my waking up with apparent memories of my first pony, Queen Charlotte's Ball, a London season, triumph at Badminton, and my marriage at St George's, Hanover Square, to a sprig of aristocracy. But apparent memories are not, contrary to the opinion of many philosophers, accepted always without question. In the quiet watches of the night I vividly remember many exploits, sometimes as Napoleon, sometimes as Pericles, sometimes, less properly, as the Sublime Porte, surrounded by eunuchs and concubines, all eager to gratify my merest whim, but these impressions, however vivid, are rejected because they do not fit in with the rest of my remembered experience; and, though less spectacularly, some waking memory-impressions are likewise subject to critical scrutiny, and in spite of the fact that I could have sworn that I posted the cheque, I ruefully concede that I must have misremembered it as I find the cheque in its envelope still nestling among the other papers on my desk. Memory, though generally reliable, is not of its nature infallible, and we only accept those memories which do not run counter to the rest of what we know and understand. One look in the mirror will convince me that I was never the deb of the year, half a minute on a horse that I could never have gained even a rosette at a pony club rally. Just as the the body rejects intruded cells, so each man's autobiography rejects intrusive matter which cannot be accommodated within what is already known and understood; and although immune system of the body can, at great cost and risk, be sufficiently suppressed to allow transplants to be made, the suppression of the critical faculties required before I could be content to accept Jane's memories as my own would be so great as to leave me a completely irrational, and barely self-conscious, being. No first-personal account of fusion is coherent: although I may by my own free decision share the rest of my life with another, merging my individual will in our joint choices, and coming to know all her memories as she recounts them, neither of us can know the other's early memories first-hand, and our sharing could never conceivably become a complete coalescence.
Much the same is true of fission, though not so absolutely. Each one of us needs to be able to make sense of his future as well as of his past. A person, as Lockwood maintains, arguing from a very different starting point, is essentially a diachronic concept: 4 Augustine once defined time as a distentio animi, but, as Kirwan points out, 5 it will not do as a definition of time, and it is more illuminating to take it as definitive of mind that it encompasses its own past actions and reaches out towards what is to happen. As Glover emphasizes, our identities are very largely what we ourselves create. 6 If I could not form a coherent view of my own future, I should not have a coherent concept of myself. I find no difficulty in envisaging a future in which I am bilocated, but formidable difficulties in making sense of the prospect of my being two mes, not of one mind with each other. I should not want my Abel-self to be slain by my Cain-self, undeterred by Swinburne 7 and anxious to secure his sole claim to be me. So I decide now not in either of my successor selves to slay my other self. But will this decision stick? After all, it is always possible to change one's mind. I might, I suppose, make sure by deciding now to separate, like Abraham and Lot, but our experience with actual identical twins makes this seem unnatural, and in the face of such a prospect I am much more likely to resolve very firmly not to change my mind. If that possibility is excluded, or if intentions do not survive the process of fission, then I am already no longer a person, and nobody can be identified with me. In order for there to be any question of my continuing to exist, I must be able to form intentions and stick to them. In that case, I shall resolve not only that we shall, neither of us, hurt or thwart the other, but that we shall stick together through thick and thin. Tweedle will rule out the possibility of a battle, and will remain, so much as in them lies, still just Tweedle, though bilocated Dumly and Deely. So, too, the tribe of Lucas clones will stick together, like a pack of wolves, each abiding by the decision made in the original position, each identifying himself as part of the pack, quite possibly using only the first person plural; and should any have the misfortune to be separated from the pack, likely to fade away and die through inanition and loss of identity.
Difficulties remain. The two most notable are the division of consciousness and the unforeseen fission. It could be the case that Dum and Dee did not know, until told, what the other was doing. But this often happens in ordinary life, where I do not know what I am doing until I tell myself and consciously recognise it. More pertinently, in the real-life split brain cases there is some division of consciousness between, as it were, two centres of consciousness. But we should note our response: a few philosophers excepted, we continue to regard the patient as a single person, because for the most part he is able to make over-all decisions and integrate his behaviour into a coherent pattern. This no accident. Consciousness is not entirely separable from decision-making, but is, very largely, a feed-back on action. 8 If we are of one mind what to do, we shall be mutually aware of how we fare in consequence.
Fission is not altogether symmetrical with fusion. With fusion, whatever memories may have been implanted in me, I shall have to decide whether to own them as memories of my own actions, or disown them as fantasies that can have played no part in my real life. In the case of fission that I have considered, I was able to decide antecedently what I should subsequently do, and impose on my future an orderly theme. But what if an individual is divided unawares? If I did not know I was fissile, and it just happened to me? I meet someone who looks like me, behaves like me, has all my memories, aspirations and ambitions, and who says he is me? Do I regard him as an impostor to be killed, or an alter ego, to be cherished and cooperated with? Answers give out: but perhaps the questions have run out too. I share Dr Wilkes' scepticism both as regards the feasibility of surgical Parfitry, and the extent to which counter-factual hypothetical experiments ought to weigh with us. 9 The very fact that our actual concepts have been developed against a particular background of fact means that our criteria are likely to pick on contingent rather than necessary features as reliably characteristic of what it is to be a person, or to be the same person as one previously identified. Habeas corpus makes sense in humdrum England, but would have been of no avail to Ariel seeking his liberty from Prospero's spell-enforced servitude. If the transmigration of souls were an established fact, if we lived in one of Shorter's imaginary societies, 10 if most of our pupils behaved, and avowed having experiences, like Miss Sally Beauchamp, if our colleague Dr Jekyll alternated in behaviour with the altogether unelectable Mr Hyde, our concepts and forensic practices would be very different. So too with other, non-personal concepts. If the world were very different, our concepts would be different too. We should not have the concept of a material object if we lived in an aqueous medium, in which beneficial and noxious chemicals were diffused, but with no definite sources or boundaries: we might then have a purely olfactory experience, in which we could distinguish various sorts of ``good---here---now'' and ``bad---here---now'', but no numerically distinct objects we could re-identify and manipulate. Hence it is reasonable to meet difficult fission possibilities by pointing out that we should not have the concept of a person, if agents did not continue over extended periods of time, pursuing long-term plans, remembering what they had done, and what they had decided to do. I should not be conscious of myself as a self if I could not decide what I was going to do, and always forgot what I had done and what I had been going to do. Not that I have to have complete plans for all my future life or complete memory of all my past doings: I can tolerate a large measure of present indecision and forgetfulness. But once I am not totally undecided and amnesiac, I can take steps to transcend my limited abilities. I can write memos to myself, to remind myself of what decisions I either have made or need to make, and I can keep a diary. Thus, granted only the minimal capacities required of our being agents at all, we can extend our effective forward planning and backward memories to connect our present selves with our future concerns and previous deeds. It is only if we are hopelessly restricted to the present that we cannot get a grip on the future and past, and then we should no longer be agents at all, and should not know ourselves as such.
So, if we cannot rule out puzzle cases absolutely, we can at least marginalise them, either by reckoning them so bizarre that they altogether undercut the notion of one's having a first-personal view of oneself as a person, or, if any reasonable power of decision-taking is left, by extending it to cover the difficult cases, and taking them into account as we envisage possibilities and form life projects, and discounting awkward possibilities by definite decisions. If we are to have a concept of an agent, he must be able, at least to some limited extent, to extend himself towards the future and to own his deeds done in time past, and any such extension is itself extensible. I can make up my own mind what I shall do, and it is the mark of its being my mind that I can make it up for myself, differently from you. We do not know---are not told---what decisions the two putative Guy Fawkes would have made, either after they met Williams, or at some earlier time when at least one, and perhaps both, were the self-same individual who tried to blow up Parliament. But those decisions, past and future, are determinative of personal identity and constitute the grounds on which we can decide whether either or both of the present candidates are incorporations of the one, though conceivably bilocated, true and original Guy Fawkes. Locke recognised the importance of my past actions, but forgot the future: Williams remembers the future, but regards persons too passively, as beings who can feel and be tortured, but not as agents who can act and form intentions about what they are going to do. Once I have an idea of what it is for me to have a mind of my own, I see the point of your having one of your own too---though too many modern philosophers have been reluctant to acknowledge that the reason why we are interested in identifying persons is because we think of them as being like us, and having each his own first-personal view of things. To get a full, rounded concept of a person, we need to extend Locke's tenses to include the future, Williams' voices to include the active, and the third person to include also the first and the second. We must conjugate.
J.R. Lucas1. A paper given to the Oxford Philosophical Society, February 20th, 1992.
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