Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 345–361

Horizons, PIOs, and Bad Faith

Special Issue


I begin by comparing the question of what constitutes continuity of Personal Identity Online (PIO), to the traditional question of whether personal identity is constituted by psychological or physical continuity, bringing out the compelling but, I aim to show, ultimately misleading reasons for thinking only psychological continuity has application to PIO. After introducing and defending J.J. Valberg’s horizonal conception of consciousness, I show how it deepens our understanding of psychological and physical continuity accounts of personal identity, while revealing their shortcomings. I then argue that PIO must also be understood against the backdrop of the horizonal conception, that this undermines sharp dichotomies between online and offline identity, and that although online psychological continuity might become necessary for the preservation of our personal identities, we cannot become our PIOs. Finally, I argue that if PIO is understood solely in terms of psychological continuity, any increasing identification with our PIOs assumes the form of a paradigmatic project of bad faith: a technological reduction of our self-consciousness, rather than the enhancement it should be.


Personal Identity Online (PIO) Personal identity Consciousness Valberg Horizons Bad faith 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy Programme, SPIREKeele UniversityStaffordshireUK

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