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The Department of Humanities at Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) will be hosting a seminar cycle themed Death and Personal Identity. The seminars are organised by Vilius Dranseika, researcher at Vilnius University, in collaboration with the Department of Humanities, RSU.

In this cycleof three reading-based seminars we will explore several issues at the intersection of two traditional philosophical problems: personal identity (What does it take for a person to persist from one time to another as the same person?) and death (What is death? What criteria we should use to determine what death is?).

Friday, 14 June, 16:00

  • In the first seminar we will ask whether the notion of personal identity is significant to Bioethics (focusing on work by David DeGrazia and David Shoemaker).

Monday, 17 June, 16:00

  • In the second seminar, we will look at extant psychological and anthropological research on folk conceptualisations of personal identity and death (focusing on work by Mitch Hodge) as well as survey current debates on death determination criteria.

Tuesday, 18 June, 16:00

  • In the third seminar we will focus on philosophical discussions on the conceptual relations between the concepts of death and personal identity (focusing on work by Jeff McMahan and DeGrazia).

Seminar 1

  • DeGrazia, D. “Identity, Killing and the Boundaries of Our Existence.” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2003, 31
  • Purves, D. “The Significance of Personal Identity for Death.” Bioethics, 2015, 29
  • Shoemaker, D. “The Insignicance of Personal Identity for Bioethics.” Bioethics, 2010, 24

Seminar 2

  • Hodge, M. K. “Dead-Survivors, the Living Dead, and Concepts of Death.” Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 2018, 9
  • Nair-Collins, M. & Gerend, M. A. “Moral Evaluations of Organ Transplantation Influence Judgments of Death and Causation.” Neuroethics, 2015, 8

Seminar 3

  • DeGrazia, D. “Persons, Organisms, and Death: A Philosophical Critique of the Higher-Brain Approach.” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 1999, 37
  • McMahan, J. “The Metaphysics of Brain Death.” Bioethics, 1995, 9
Preliminary readings (optional)
  • Johnson, L. S. “Death by Neurological Criteria: Expert Definitions and Lay Misgivings.” QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 2017, 110(5)
  • Eelco, F. M. & Wijdicks, M. D. “The Diagonosis of Brain Death.” The New England Journal of Medicine, 2001, 344
Seminar language: English.
To get access to seminar reading materials, please contact ivars[pnkts]neidersatrsu[pnkts]lv.
Certificates of attendance will be issued.

About the leader of the seminar

Vilius Dranseika is a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and the Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies of Vilnius University, Lithuania. His research interests include empirical research on personal identity judgments, folk theories of causality, choice, and freedom, and cross-cultural research on moral cognition.

Find out more


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