The identity of experiences and the identity of the subject

  • Donnchadh O’ConaillEmail author


Barry Dainton has developed a sophisticated version of the bundle theory of the subject of experiences. I shall focus on three claims Dainton makes: the identity-conditions of subjects can be specified in terms of capacities to produce experiences; the identity-conditions of token capacities are not determined by their subjects; and a subject is nothing over and above a bundle of such capacities. I shall argue that Dainton’s key notion of co-consciousness, a primitive relation of experienced togetherness, presupposes a subject common to each of the experiences which are experienced together. Therefore, co-consciousness cannot be used to state the identity-conditions of subjects in a non-circular manner. I shall also argue that none of the different options Dainton offers for specifying the identity-conditions of token experiential capacities independently of their subjects are successful. I shall then outline a way in which this can be done, but argue that it undermines the claim that a subject is nothing over and above a bundle of such capacities.


Experience Subject C-system Experiential capacity Identity-conditions Co–consciousness 



Thanks to Martine Nida-Rümelin, Helen Steward, Tom McClelland, Jiri Benovsky and an anonymous referee for their comments on this paper. Thanks also to the audience at the EXRE colloquium in Fribourg.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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