Friday, December 14, 2012


One thought chaces another, and draws after it a third, by which it is expell'd in its turn. In this respect, I cannot compare the soul more properly to any thing than to a republic or commonwealth, in which the several members are united by the reciprocal ties of government and subordination, and give rise to other persons, who propagate the same republic in the incessant changes of its parts. And as the same individual republic may not only change its members, but also its laws and constitutions; in like manner the same person may vary his character and disposition, as well as his impressions and ideas, without losing his identity.

Hume, Treatise on Human Nature (1739), Section VI: Of Personal Identity
This skepticism about the existence of a single autonomous agent, a concept that is extremely important to the conservative concept of a person, has found empirical support from psychology over the last 40 years, beginning with the work of Kahnemann & Tversky. I've been looking into the problems with the classical economic view of human agency and I've found that there are severe difficulties with this concept of a person, both formal and empirical.

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