Identity and information technology

Steve Matthews*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Advances in information technology (IT) should focus our attention onto the notion of personal identity. In this chapter, I consider the effects of IT on identity by focusing on two broad areas. First, the online environment provides a new virtual space in which persons interact almost exclusively via their computer terminals. What are the effects of this new space on our self-conceptions? In particular, given that such a large chunk of our work and recreational time is spent in a “disembodied’ mode online, how does this affect the ways human persons interact with one another and the kinds of persons we become as a consequence of those online relationships? Second, technological advances now and in the future raise the spectre of cyborgisation, the idea that human beings are subject to having their body parts replaced, enhanced, or added to. How might this affect the ways human beings respond to one another and how might these changed relations come to alter our self-image? This chapter will explore the notion of personal identity in the light of these actual and potential technological developments. In the philosophical literature the concept of personal identity is used in two quite separate ways. The question of personal identity over time is a question about what makes an individual person considered at one time the same as one considered at another time. This question is sometimes put in terms of the conditions under which a person persists over time, or survives through some process.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInformation Technology and Moral Philosophy
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780511498725
ISBN (Print)9780521855495
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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