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DaedalusVol. 135 Iss. 4 (2006)

Notes Toward a Definition

Akeel Bilgrami

Seeking to add clarity to the term identity, particularly its use within a political context, Bilgrami distinguishes between normative views of identity (associated with moral judgments) and descriptive understandings of identity (which are purely analytical).

The Politics of Identity

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Like morality, Appiah argues, identity is an important guideline for how people live their lives and interact socially, as it allows one to determine goals and identify institutions in which one finds others who share similar values. Yet, Appiah questions how large of a role identity politics should play in people's lives and the degree to which identity may influence the decision-making process.

From Identity to Solidarity

David A. Hollinger

Hollinger identifies solidarity, or "willed affiliation," as a pivotal issue of the twenty-first-century politics, showing how people seek a collectivist identity to achieve a sense of belonging as well as to accomplish certain political goals.

Liberalism and the Claims of Identity

Courtney Jung

Jung argues that identity is inextricably linked to democracy and political representation, highlighting how different administration's policies favor certain attributes "such as skin color, language, beliefs, and practices."

Identity and Identities

Sydney Shoemaker

Distinguishing between different philosophical conceptions of identity, such as those put forward by Hume, Locke, Descartes and others, Shoemaker examines why modern identities have come to be associated with psychological traits.

Why Do Individuals Matter?

Carol Rovane

Rovane discusses the contradictory commitments of Enlightenment thinking to the moral importance of the individual and rationality, arguing that membership in groups (whether it be a marriage, a coauthored project, or a corporation) may lead to "fragmentation" of the individual, producing "multiple persons."

Many Masks

Wendy Doniger

Drawing on John Malkovich, Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other actors who have masqueraded as themselves, Doniger examines multiple identities in popular culture.

Our Brains, Our Selves

Todd E. Feinberg

Feinberg's essay is an interpretation of several cases of "asomatognosia, a disorder in which a patient denies ownership of a part of his or her self," showing how patients with brain damage invent nicknames for paralyzed limbs and 'phantom children' in order to rationalize their trauma.

Genetics, Biosocial Groups and the Future of Identity

Ian Hacking

By examining the human genome project, forensic applications of DNA evidence, transsexuals, and risks of hereditary disease, Hacking evaluates the differing degrees to which genes determine and influence identity.


Dan Webb

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