In my paper, Response to Bernard Williams in “The Self and the Future” published in the Fall 2017 edition of Aporia, the philosophy journal publication service of Brigham Young University whose issue is archived here, I was nervous about my capabilities writing analytic philosophy, particularly of a metaphysical nature. However, some peer editing, a number of drafts, a humbly honest but rigorously critical take on the work of an esteemed philosopher of personal identity continuity, and my own good fortune allowed me make a modest contribution to the field. Though I do not specialize in philosophy currently, I do treasure its content, methods, and history to this day as a passion.
This paper in particular concerned two very neat thought experiments explored by Williams in his paper for the purpose of demonstrating the methodological weaknesses of philosophical thought experiment methods at times, particularly when they play heavily to our intuitions. Offering a different interpretation of William’s proposed experiments, I believe I successfully argue that one of the thought experiments is, nonetheless, far more successful than the other for its keen methodological characteristics that Williams does not appear to highlight. Ultimately, I use this interpretation to critically reorient Williams’ thought experiments as demonstrating support for a more direct thesis on personal identity itself than he had originally intended in this primarily methodological paper.
I’m grateful to the students and administrators at Aporia to this day for assisting me in making my first academic publication in any field. It did wonders for my confidence as a young researcher.