Philosophy Colloquium: Rebecca Chan (San José State University)


Location: Zoom

Prof. Rebecca Chan will present: "Metaphysics and Law--WTF is sameness?" on Thursday, November 4, from 5:00-7:00 Eastern Standard Time via Zoom.  All are welcome to attend.

Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 983 5069 5634
Passcode: metameta

In this paper, I offer a Neo-Lockean argument for why we ought not to punish those who have undergone significant mental transformation as a result of conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. While there are those who defend this position on the basis of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, I argue that we ought not to punish in these cases because the person being punished is not the same person as the one who committed the crime. On my account, the relevant sense of “sameness” is not “metaphysical”—rather, it looks at whether the past and present persons are the same practical agents. This account also enjoys some support in the legal context and can be found in laws about corporations, juvenile records, and treatment of dementia patients. Finally, focusing on sameness of persons rather than Eighth Amendment grounds has interesting implications for other policies regarding punishment.