Advertisement

Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 309–328 | Cite as

Personal Identity Online

  • Raffaele RodognoEmail author
Special Issue

Abstract

Philosophers concerned with the question of personal identity have typically been asking the so-called re-identification question: what are the conditions under which a person at one point in time is properly re-identified at another point in time? This is a rather technical question. In our everyday interactions, however, we do raise a number of personal identity questions that are quite distinct from it. In order to explore the variety of ways in which the Internet may affect personal identity, I propose in this study to broaden the typical philosophical horizon to other more mundane senses of the question. In Section 2, I describe a number of possible meanings of personal identity observed in everyday contexts and more philosophical ones. With some caveats, I argue that it is the specific context in which the question arises that disambiguates the meaning of the question. Online contexts are novel and peculiar insofar as they afford prolonged disembodied and anonymous interaction with others. In line with our previous conclusion, then, there is reason to suspect that such contexts generate new and sui generis answers to the personal identity question. In Section 3, I examine this question and, contrary to expectations, largely dispel this suspicion. Finally, in Section 4, I discuss the often-heard claim to the effect that disembodiment and anonymity foster the creation of distinct and incompatible online and offline identities.

Keywords

Personal identity online Internet Facebook Problems of personal identity Attachment identity Social identity Attribution identity Numerical identity Multiple identities 

References

  1. DeGrazia, D. (2005). Human Identity and Bioethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Frankfurt, H. (1988). The Importance of What We Care About. Cambridge: Cambridge University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Goldie, P. (2007). Dramatic irony, narrative and the external perspective. In D. Hutto (Ed.), Narrative and Understanding Persons Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  4. Hutto, D. (2007). Narrative and understanding persons. In D. Hutto (Ed.), Narrative and Understanding Persons Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lewis, D. (1976). ‘Survival and Identity’, The Identities of Persons, In: Rorty A. (Ed.), Berkeley: California, and reprinted in his Philosophical Papers vol. I, Oxford University Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  6. Mackenzie, C. (2008). Practical identity and narrative agency. In K. Atkins & F. Mackenzie (Eds.), Practical Identity and Narrative Agency. New York & London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. MacIntyre, A. (1984). After Virtue. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame.Google Scholar
  8. Noonan, H. (2003). Personal Identity (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Olson, E. T. (1997). The Human Animal: Personal Identity Without Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  10. Olson, Eric T., “Personal Identity”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (Ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2010/entries/identity-personal/>.
  11. Parfit, D. (1984). Reasons and Persons. Oxford: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  12. Perry, J. (1972). Can the Self Divide? Journal of Philosophy, 69, 463–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ricoeur, P. (1983). Temps et récit. Tome I: L’intrigue et le récit historique. Paris: Le Seuil.Google Scholar
  14. Schechtman, M. (1996). The Constitution of Selves. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.Google Scholar
  15. Schechtman, M. (2007). Stories, lives, and basic survival: A refinement and defense of the narrative view. In D. Hutto (Ed.), Narrative and Understanding Persons Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  16. Shoemaker, D. (2008). Personal Identity and Ethics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (Ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/identity-ethics/>.
  17. Taylor, C. (1985). Self-Intepreting Animals. Human Agency and Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  18. Taylor, C. (1989). Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.Google Scholar
  19. Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the Screen. Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York, NY: Touchstone.Google Scholar
  20. Wolfendale, J. (2007). My avatar, My Self: Virtual Harm and Attachment. Ethics and Information Technology, 9, 111–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and History of IdeasAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

Personalised recommendations