Pedro Oliboni ’20 published his first peer-reviewed article in the 2020 issue of Aperto Amino, a philosophy journal run by students from the University of North Carolina. In his article, “Normative Implications of Reductionism about Personal Identity,” Oliboni works with ideas that he developed during his time at The College of Wooster as a philosophy and math major and economics minor. Using the philosophical theory of reductionism about personal identity, which Oliboni explains as the notion that “what makes a person the same at two points in time is continuation of that person’s psychology (memories, intentions, etc.).” He argues that “all that matters is increasing the quantity of positive experiences and reducing the quantity of negative experiences, regardless of the person to whom these experiences happen.”
Oliboni explained that this argument has significant philosophical implications. “I wanted to write this article because I think it says something important about egoism and altruism. If I am right, then there’s a sense in which selfishness is irrational,” he said.
After being first introduced to these ideas in his First Year Seminar, Oliboni continued to explore them throughout his time at Wooster. “The philosophical training I received at Wooster was excellent,” he said. “I got introduced to the foundational ideas that inspired the paper by Professor Mark Wells, who taught my FYS. I then became obsessed with these ideas and never really stopped thinking or writing about them.” Oliboni wrote his junior Independent Study on reductionism about personal identity and continued to work with the ideas during his study abroad program at Oxford University and with his philosophy senior I.S. advisor Garrett Thomson, Compton Professor of Philosophy.
Oliboni was excited to have the article accepted because it showed him that other people are also interested in these ideas about reductionism and personal identity in which he is so invested. “I’ve thought about the ideas in it for a long time,” he said. “It’s nice to see that other people also think there’s some value to it. It would be great if it got people to respond to my ideas.”
While Oliboni is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Economic and Social Sciences at Bocconi University in Milan, he is still interested in philosophy. “I want to continue to study philosophy in the future,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop thinking about the ideas in this article.”