Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Me and mine

  • Peter M. JaworskiEmail author
  • David Shoemaker


In this paper we articulate and diagnose a previously unrecognized problem for theories of entitlement, what we call the Claims Conundrum. It applies to all entitlements that are originally generated by some claim-generating action, such as laboring, promising, or contract-signing. The Conundrum is spurred by the very plausible thought that a later claim to the object to which one is entitled is a function of whether that original claim-generating action is attributable to one. This is further assumed to depend on one’s being identical to the person who performed the claim-generating action. But the right theory of personal identity for grounding these later claims proves quite elusive. In demonstrating both the Claims Conundrum and diagnosing its source, we begin with its (previously unobserved) instantiation in John Locke’s theories of personal identity and initial acquisition, and then we gradually expand its net to include both Lockean and non-Lockean theories of both, moving ultimately to show that this is a problem for most entitlements generally. We then diagnose the source of the trouble, showing that a basic assumption about the link between attributability and identity that most people take to be obvious is in fact false, clearing a path for future investigation into this overlooked but serious problem’s resolution.


John Locke Personal identity Entitlements Claims Ownership Attributability Moral responsibility 



For helpful discussion and comments on various stages of this long-gestating project, we are grateful to David Faraci, Bill Glod, Fred Miller, Marya Schechtman, Bas Van Der Vossen, Steven Wall, Terrence Watson, attendees at the Institute for Humane Studies' Summer Research Fellowship (SuRF), and commenters at the University of Warwick Social and Political Philosophy conference. We are also in debt to an anonymous referee at Philosophical Studies for some excellent comments on the penultimate draft, someone who demonstrated the kind of outstanding refereeing that is still occasionally, thankfully, done for philosophy journals. Finally, we would like to thank Jennifer Lackey for her support of our endeavors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McDonough School of BusinessGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy & Murphy InstituteTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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