John Locke Vs. Bernard Williams
In this essay, I will be explaining John Locke’s case of the prince and the cobbler and Bernard Williams’s second description of the A-body person and the B-body person. Bernard Williams has the correct analysis of the situation where the body is part of self-identity since it is inevitable for us to fear future pain.
John Locke claims that memory is the key to identity, so “as far [as] someone’s memory goes, is so far the identity of the person.” (Campbell) First, Locke explains the concept of body swapping in terms of the prince and the cobbler: the “transfer of memories between the body of the prince and the body of the cobbler would mean the people have swapped bodies.” (Campbell) In this example, the
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Williams adds in the knowledge of future pain and it makes the case seem different because now, the person with the knowledge of future pain is scared to choose their current body to be tortured. Therefore, the body must be connected to identity. In objection to Williams’s second case, he does not tell you that the person whose memories and character traits that you will be given, will in turn be given your memories and character traits. William objects this with, why would that matter; "why should [I] mention this man and what is going to happen to him? My selfish concern is to be told what is going to happen to me, and now I know: torture, preceded by changes of character, brain operations, [and] changes in impressions of the past" (189). The only thing that I am thinking about is my future pain. Another objection is that this principle may not always apply. For example, if I were afraid of heights and told I was going to be put on top on a high cliff soon, I would definitely be nervous and afraid. However, if I were told I was going to be totally cured of my fear of heights before the event of the cliff, I would no longer be afraid of the cliff. But, pain is not the same as acrophobia. Pain is universally felt and passed down from our ancestors to help us survive, unless you have a genetic defect where you can’t feel pain, heat, or cold. We are born with a natural instinct to avoid pain so again; the claim stands that “fears can