Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

George Graham - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Andrea Scarantino - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Eddy Nahmias - Committee Member


Certain contemporary philosophers (e.g. Dainton, 2008; Strawson, 1999; Foster, 2008) have thought that the first-person, qualitative aspect of conscious experience should be taken seriously when it comes to our thinking about personal identity through time. These philosophers have thus argued that experiential continuity is essential to a person’s ability to persist identically through time. This is what I will call ‘the phenomenological theory’. In this thesis I describe the phenomenological theory and then discuss three problems that have plagued the history of this theory: the bridge problem, the token problem, and the ontological problem. I will argue that a recent version of the phenomenological theory proposed by Barry Dainton and Timothy Bayne (2005) provides satisfactory answers to two of these problems, but not the third. I will conclude this thesis by proposing a superior version of the phenomenological theory—one that can handle all three problems.

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