Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy and Public Affairs

Reader 1

S. Andrew Schroeder

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Who are you? And did you have any say in choosing who you are? Identity is a complicated issue, it is both individualistic and necessarily relies on your environment and peers. I believe that as it stands, your identity may be a result of both solitary and societal thinking. However, I think that society and government act as the sole authenticators of an individual’s identity. I do not believe this is how an individual’s life ought to be treated. Thus, I am arguing in this thesis that the individual has the capacity to choose their own identity, and that society and government ought to authenticate the decisions made by individuals.

In order to prove my claim I will first specify the types of identity I will be discussing in this thesis. I will then explore the theories of three philosophers: Anthony Appiah, Ian Hacking, and Charles Taylor. In chapters 2 & 3, I will first analyze Anthony Appiah, who in arguing against the existence of race posits several ideas about identity including a theory of identity. Second, in chapter 4, I will analyze Ian Hacking, who presents a theory of identity creation, named labeling theory, and then presents a counter-theory of identity creation. Third, in chapter 5, I will analyze Charles Taylor’s claims about the effect recognition has on identity formation. Continuing to analyze Taylor in chapter 5, I will also analyze the importance of championing the politics of difference both to the individual and towards my claim. I will then provide examples of how my claim may be actualized in chapter 6, alongside counterarguments to my claims. Last, I will conclude my thesis in chapter 7.