admin May 22, 2018

Abstract

In their article in this journal, Sabine Müller, Merlin Bittlinger, and Henrik Walter launch a sweeping attack against what they call the “personal identity debate” as it relates to patients treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS). In this critique offered by Müller et al., the personal identity debate is said to: (a) be metaphysical in a problematic way, (b) constitute a threat to patients, and (c) use “vague” and “contradictory” statements from patients and their families as direct evidence for metaphysical theories. In this response, I critically evaluate Müller et al.’s argument, with a special focus on these three just-mentioned aspects of their discussion. My conclusion is that Müller et al.’s overall argument is problematic. It overgeneralizes criticisms that may apply to some, but certainly not to all, contributions to what they call the personal identity-debate. Moreover, it rests on a problematic conception of what much of this debate is about. Nor is Müller et al.’s overall argument fair in its assessment of the methodology used by most participants in the debate. For these reasons, we should be skeptical of Müller et al.’s claim that the “personal identity debate” is a “threat to neurosurgical patients”.

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