Against the complex versus simple distinction

Patrik Hummel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines three proposals on the difference between complex and simple views about personal identity: Parfit’s original introduction of the distinction, Gasser and Stefan’s definition and Noonan’s recent proposal. I argue that the first two classify the paradigm cases of simplicity as complex, while Noonan’s proposal makes simplicity and complexity turn on features whose relevance for the distinction is questionable. Given these difficulties, I examine why we should be interested in whether a position is complex or simple. I describe two purposes of having a distinction, and show that extant accounts of the complex vs. simple distinction fail to serve these. I argue that unless we find a satisfying account of the difference between complex and simple positions, we should not frame discourses on personal identity in these terms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-378
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


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