Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Professor Rob Rupert

Second Advisor

Professor Dominic Bailey

Third Advisor

Professor Yuko Munakata


In this thesis, I explore questions related to the unity of the conscious self over time. To start, I provide philosophical background to the mind in the British empiricist tradition and outline Hume's various arguments against the continuous self. As a potential response to Hume, I offer David Woodruff-Smith's account of the modality of self-consciousness and then draw a parallel to Joseph Levine's conscious experience "E". Differing from these authors, I explore Sven Bernecker's account of first-person extroversive memories and the reidentification question relevant to personal identity. Here, I defend John Locke's answer that the same consciousness constitutes the same person over time. In order to do this, I distinguish between my ongoing conscious state EV and my memory report EVχ. I analyze EVχ through an internalist perspective by subjecting it to Bernecker's five conditions for a first-person extroversive memory. I claim that I avoid the circularity objection plaguing Locke's account only if this internalist reflection results in the designation of EVχ as a genuine memory report. The origins of my memory EVχ lies in the external world impressions that my same, continuing conscious state EV received at the time of memory formation. Taking Locke's account further, I claim if EV is conscious and in reception of impressions that comprise potential memories, there are a substantial number of these potential memories that could later become actualized. Genuine or actual memories of the past, such as report EVχ, are clear references to my same consciousness EV. To illustrate my claims, I provide an analogy and respond to objections. I argue that if my internalist attempts succeed, then I have defended Locke's answer to the reidentification question.