The Stoics on Identity, Identification, and Peculiar Qualities

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In this paper, I clarify some central aspects of Stoic thought concerning identity, identification, and so-called peculiar qualities (qualities which were seemingly meant to ground an individual’s identity and enable identification). I offer a precise account of Stoic theses concerning the identity and discernibility of individuals and carefully examine the evidence concerning the function and nature of peculiar qualities. I argue that the leading proposal concerning the nature of peculiar qualities, put forward by Eric Lewis, faces a number of objections, and offer two constructive suggestions which turn upon reconsidering the nature and function(s) of peculiar qualities. Finally, I examine a simple but potent Academic argument against the view that identification requires detecting some attribute(s) unique to the relevant individual. Such an argument is, I argue, largely successful and may have encouraged later Stoics not to think that peculiar qualities enable identification. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-159
Number of pages47
JournalProceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Stoics
  • Identity
  • Identification
  • Metaphysics
  • Academics

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