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Persons, Selves and Identities

Abstract: The concepts of personhood, the self and what individuates persons and selves form an incompletely-overlapping Venn diagram  showing that they are paraconsistent - we use these concepts for a variety of purposes which, although appropriate in context, are frequently inconsistent with their uses in other contexts and with each other; the analysis shows that none of the concepts refers securely to an underlying ontology, but are reactive constructs, forged to help navigation of the social universe. This has implications for the extension of the concept of identity into political arenas. I identify the only securely-identifiable underlying ontology to which these concepts can be indexed, and argue that it has important implications in ethics and law.

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