Personal identity and practical reason
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In this thesis, I argue that the interdependence between personal identity and practical concerns is overstated. In paradigmatic places where philosophers and common sense suggest that personal identity constrains how we should reason and care, or vice versa, the two spheres are in fact neutral to each other. I defend this claim by considering four specific cases. First, a rough characterization of the distinction between the complex and the simple view is that the former takes personal identity to consist in other relations, whereas the latter does not. I argue that the extreme claim according to which the complex view fails to give reasons for future-directed concern can be resisted. We maintain forward-looking attitudes and projects not because someone will be us, but because we relate to future selves in other, more important ways. Second, I argue that intuitions in a range of popular imaginary cases are contaminated by practical concerns whose relevance for personal identity is far from straightforward. Third, I argue that on a closer look, the complex versus simple distinction is confused. It thus cannot be what grounds differences in judgements on what matters. Debates about personal identity should be framed in terms of better understood notions. Finally, I argue that it is not a constraint on rational transformative choice that decision-maker and transforming individual are identical. Moreover, whether we are deciding for ourselves or for others - the importance of informed consent for transformative treatments is not diminished by the decision-maker's failure to projectively imagine the outcomes.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Description of related resourcesHummel, P. (2017). Against the Complex Versus Simple Distinction". In: Erkenntnis 82.2, pp. 363-378.
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