issues and ideas inherent in the concept of personal identity


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[a] Guidance for your essays is contained in Nick Smith’s, Writing, Rewriting, and Grading Philosophy Papers. [Link posted in Blackboard.] Your essays are to be no less than 4½ pages nor longer than 5½ pages. These page limits do not include your Works Cited page or your cover page. Your papers must adhere to the requirements contained in your text by Lewis Vaughn, Writing Philosophy: A Student’s Guide to Writing Philosophy Essays.

[b] You will require at least one (1) citation or footnote, which must be written in correct MLA style. (See the link at:

[c] Please note: Your cover page should be placed at the back (last page) and facing outward. The instructor does not want to be able to see the name of the essay’s author while  grading the paper.

[d] Do not put your name on the internal pages of your essay. Single-digit page numbers should be placed in the lower right-hand corner.

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Essay Prompt [address all five parts]

Wolverine, in Amnesia, Personal Identity, and the Many Lives of Wolverine by Jason Southworth, demonstrates many of the issues and ideas inherent in the concept of personal identity. Use this reading to:

[a] Clearly state the main the thesis of Southworth’s essay. What is Southworth trying to illustrate to the reader? What are his major premises?

[b] Explain the “powers” exemplified by Wolverine. What capabilities does Wolverine have, which ordinary people do not possess? Or rather, what makes Wolverine unique?

[c] Southworth says “moral culpability” depends on how one understands personal identity. Likewise, John Locke tells us the idea of “justice” depends ultimately on how one understand personal identity. What do Southworth and Locke mean by their respective statements?

[d] Explain fully John Locke’s understanding of personal identity. How does Wolverine exemplify Locke’s notions of identity? Is Wolverine, per Southworth’s concept of “moral culpability” and Locke’s concept of “justice,” responsible for his actions prior to his many “reprogrammings?” If so, in what way is he responsible? Does your answer change when you consider Wolverine after he has regained all of his memories?

[e] Fully explicate how Locke’s concepts of personal identity might relate to Jamie Madrox (Multipleman). Is Derek Parfit’s conception of personal identity adequate to explain the identities of Wolverine or Madrox?

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