2.62 Personal Identity

Category: Metaphysics

Keywords: sortal, identity, wiggins, identities, identification, persistence, identical, survive, stages, continuity, parfit, sameness, personal, shoemaker, individuation

Number of Articles: 296
Percentage of Total: 0.9%
Rank: 53rd

Weighted Number of Articles: 277.3
Percentage of Total: 0.9%
Rank: 58th

Mean Publication Year: 1986
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1979.8
Median Publication Year: 1988
Modal Publication Year: 1988

Topic with Most Overlap: Ordinary Language (0.0543)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Origins and Purposes (0.0444)
Topic with Least Overlap: Liberal Democracy (0.00066)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Game Theory (0.00087)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the personal identitytopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1988 when 2.0% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1883 when 0.1% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.62 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.144: Personal identity.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Personal Identitytopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.8%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.7%. Ethics - 0.3%. Philosophical Review - 0.8%. Analysis - 1.6%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.5%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.8%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 1.0%. Philosophy of Science - 0.3%. Noûs - 1.1%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 1.4%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.4%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1988 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 1.9% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1883 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.1% of the articles.

Figure 2.145: Personal identity articles in each journal.

Table 2.153: Characteristic articles of the personal identity topic.
Table 2.154: Highly cited articles in the personal identity topic.


Given how big a topic this was when I was a graduate student, I was very surprised that it wasn’t bigger than it turned out to be. But a look at the overall graph explains why I got this wrong. The high water mark for this topic was from about 1985–1995. When I was in graduate school, it really was all over the journals that we were reading. We couldn’t have predicted that it would fall from nearly 2 percent of the articles to under 1 percent.

One of the upsides of having a computer model analyze the data rather than going with one’s own impressions is that it reduces the impact of having an idiosyncratic set of experiences in cases like this one.