Self-made people

David Mark Kovacs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The Problem of Overlappers is a puzzle about what makes it the case, and how we can know, that we have the parts we intuitively think we have. In this paper, I develop and motivate an overlooked solution to this puzzle. According to what I call the self-making view it is within our power to decide what we refer to with the personal pronoun 'I', so the truth of most of our beliefs about our parts is ensured by the very mechanism of self-reference. Other than providing an elegant solution to the Problem of Overlappers, the view can be motivated on independent grounds. It also has wide-ranging consequences for how we should be thinking about persons. Among other things, it can help undermine an influential line of argument against the permissibility of elective amputation. After a detailed discussion and defence of the self-making view, I consider some objections to it. I conclude that none of these objections is persuasive and we should at the very least take seriously the idea that we are to some extent self-made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1071-1099
Number of pages29
Issue number500
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


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