Nowadays, the Simple View is disparaged as a theory only maintained by thinkers whose religious or spiritual commitments outweigh the reasons that speak against their views on personal identity. This is due to the fact that it is assumed that a theory of personal identity cannot be weakly reductive without involving appeal to discredited spiritual substances or committing itself either to the acknowledgment of yet unrecognized physical entities or to an Identity Mysticism on the level of persons. As a consequence, many philosophers think that the problems that infiltrate dualism and Cartesian theories of the soul, such as the alleged impossibilities to circumscribe the ontological status of souls and to explain how a soul can interact with a body, render the Simple View equally problematic. Although the options mentioned are exceedingly difficult to defend, why should they have to be regarded as the only options available to the Simple Theorist? Arguably, many respectable philosophical ideologies, such as conceptualism or Neo-Kantianism, may issue in theories of personal identity along Simple lines without appeal to Cartesian Egos. (Note, however, that these ideologies, with regards to the problem of the persistence of people, may also be, and in fact have been, construed along physiological or psychological lines). This suggests that we do not only need a better understanding, and above all more promising articulations, of the Simple View, but also a new taxonomy of theories of personal identity: the traditional division of theories into Simple, Psychological and Physical, even if maintained here by the author of this entry, may not be the best way of viewing the matter.
Archives and past articles from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and .
The direction of time is crucial in assigning possibilities to people or other individuals. Distinct possible lives of a single person can diverge from a common beginning, but they cannot converge to a common conclusion from diverse beginnings. (The latter would represent not a set of different possible lives of one individual, but a set of distinct possible individuals, whose lives have identical conclusions.) Given an identifiable individual, countless possibilities for his continued existence are imaginable, and we can clearly conceive of what it would be for him to go on existing indefinitely. However inevitable it is that this will not come about, its possibility is still that of the continuation of a good for him, if life is the good, we take it to be. 3