Artificial intelligence and personal identity

David Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Considerations of personal identity bear on John Searle's Chinese Room argument, and on the opposed position that a computer itself could really understand a natural language. In this paper I develop the notion of a virtual person, modelled on the concept of virtual machines familiar in computer science. I show how Searle's argument, and J. Maloney's attempt to defend it, fail. I conclude that Searle is correct in holding that no digital machine could understand language, but wrong in holding that artificial minds are impossible: minds and persons are not the same as the machines, biological or electronic, that realize them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-417
Number of pages19
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991


Dive into the research topics of 'Artificial intelligence and personal identity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this