Personal identity is a philosophical field that deals with questions about human nature. These questions ask who we were when all beings began and what would happen to us at the moment of our death. It questions the self, where the self is defined as some immaterial consciousness. The question of who we are is the most basic problem when dealing with the philosophical field of personal identity. This question is often superposed with the question of whether who we are today is the same self that was yesterday and who we will be the day after tomorrow. It thus consists of discussing features that define an individual as a human being or in colloquial terms “what makes people tick’. Personal identity is vital in the paper since it helps in examining whether Mr. Lee is the same person before and after the deterioration of his dementia.
There are several theories of personal identity that could shed light on whether Mr. Lee’s families should honor his two decisions. One of these theories is the memory theory. John Locke suggested that there exist a relationship between a person and his former self since both of his mental stages are stretched on the same spectrum of consciousness. He further proposed that the relationship between his two time-delimited selves lies on that fact that the latter self-has the memories of earlier self and therefore if the memory is intact they can be said to be the same person. In Mr. Lee’s situation, the memory theory would instruct us first to consider whether the physical characteristics of Mr. Lee in his current state are the same as they were before being discharged from the hospital. The second consideration would be to see whether his memory of his former self is still intact. Since Mr. Lee suffered dementia, his memory is, therefore, unreliable. Thus, the theory would have us disregarding any insight that Mr. Lee has over his former self. The change in decision to go back to a nursing home should, therefore, be honored since the family is dealing with a new Mr. Lee.
The second theory is the body theory. This theory states that as long as a person’s ‘self’ is still constrained in the same body as it was before then, he or she can be said to be the same person. Arguably, any decision individual should be consistent with his former self’s wish. In the case of Mr. Lee, the theory would instruct us to honor his first wish to stay at home since the decision of his current self is affected by the memory loss of his former self’s wish. Therefore, the family members who stood by the decision to honor Mr. Lee’s first wish were right. Both theories have pros and cons. The memory theory has the proof relevance to Mr. Lee’s situation since he has dementia. However, its con is that there is a difference in real memory and apparent memory. The body theory’s pro is that Mr. Lee is residing in the same body he was in after he was diagnosed with dementia. However, the body theory fails to consider the difference in the psychological state of Mr. Lee.
Personal identity is a vital philosophical problem as was seen in the case of Mr. Lee it can help us solve moral dilemmas. All personal identity theories seek to solve the question of the ‘essence’ of humans. They, however, differ in paying precedence to one region of an individual. The memory theory respects an individual’s memory while the body theory respects their body in establishing whether that person is the same as they were a moment ago. In my perspective, taking the memory theory approach would be the most appropriate way in handling Mr. Lee moral dilemma. Mainly because it is relevant to his memory situation.