Why people don't matter and what to do about that
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Reductionism about personal identity is the view that facts about personal identity reduce to lower-level facts about things like psychological or physical connectedness. In this dissertation, I give arguments for reductionism and for Derek Parfit’s “Extreme Claim” that reductionism requires a radical revision of our ordinary normative thought. After detailing the extent of this revision, I introduce and describe a special sort of self-alienation that is likely to be engendered by a genuine belief in Extreme Claim Reductionism. I argue that this alienation cannot and should not be eliminated, and consider existing attempts to eliminate similar sorts of alienation and note where they seem to fall short of their aim. I then outline a practical strategy for living with Extreme Claim Reductionism and the alienation that accompanies it.