Lecturer on Personal Identity Denied Honorarium
The importance of being identical
The members of the philosophy department were so convinced by the lecturer's case against diachronic personal identity that they refused to pay him his honorarium on the ground that the potential recipient could not be the same person as the actual lecturer. This from a piece by Stanley Hauerwas:
It is by no means clear to me that I am the same person who wrote Hannah's Child. Although philosophically I have a stronger sense of personal identity than Daniel Dennett, who after having given a lecture to a department of philosophy on personal identity, was not given his honorarium. The department refused to give him his honorarium because, given Dennett's arguments about personal identity, or lack thereof, the department was not confident that the person who had delivered the lecture would be the same person who would receive the honorarium.
That has to be a joke, right? It sounds like the sort of tall tale that Dennett would tell.
My understanding of character, which at least promises more continuity in our lives than Dennett thinks he can claim, does not let me assume that I am the same person who wrote Hannah's Child. I cannot be confident I am the same person because the person who wrote Hannah's Child no doubt was changed by having done so. While I'm unable to state what I learned by writing the book, I can at least acknowledge that I must have been changed by having done so.
Hauerwas is confusing numerical and qualitative identity. Yes, you have been changed by writing your book. No doubt about it. Does it follow that you are a numerically different person than the one who wrote the book? Of course not. What follows is merely that you are qualitatively different, different in respect of some properties or qualities.
Perhaps there is no strict diachronic personal identity. This cannot be demonstrated, however, from the trivial observation that people change property-wise over time. For that is consistent with strict diachronic identity.