Fission Examples in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century Personal Identity Debate

Raymond Martin, John Barresi, and Alessandro Giovannelli
History of Philosophy Quarterly (Jl 98) 15(3), 323-348

Fission examples in the contemporary personal identity debate have raised the seemingly new question of whether personal identity is what primarily matters in survival. Yet eighteenth-century personal identity theorists were already aware of fission examples. By the end of the century, they had recognized the relevance of those examples to the question of what matters in survival and even suggested that what matters is not personal identity. Then, surprisingly, that whole discussion fell completely out of sight. First, we recount this forgotten debate. Then, we suggest a three-part answer to the puzzle of how it could have been forgotten.