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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 27, 2016

Is Locke’s Account of Personal Identity Really Subjectivist?

Martin Lenz EMAIL logo
From the journal Kant-Studien


The aim of this paper is to challenge the notion of subjectivism involved in Udo Thiel’s and in other reconstructions of Locke’s account of personal identity. Although subjectivism is often taken to be the hallmark of Locke’s position, it is not entirely clear how we should understand this characterization. Thus, I will first address some general worries about this label. In a second step, I will discuss possible ways of construing Locke’s account as subjectivist and show how they rely on objective and intersubjective features. I shall conclude with a plea to drop this label with regard to Locke altogether.


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Mainz Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy. I wish to thank Udo Thiel, Falk Wunderlich and all the participants for lively discussions. I owe special thanks to Ursula Renz and to my student Herman Veluwenkamp, whose acute criticisms convinced me to cut out at least the most futile sections of this paper.

Published Online: 2016-9-27
Published in Print: 2016-9-27

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