Constitutive relevance and the personal/subpersonal distinction

Philosophical Psychology (ahead-of-print):1–24 (2012)
Can facts about subpersonal states and events be constitutively relevant to personal-level phenomena? And can knowledge of these facts inform explanations of personal-level phenomena? Some philosophers, like Jennifer Hornsby and John McDowell, argue for two negative answers whereby questions about persons and their behavior cannot be answered by using information from subpersonal psychology. Knowledge of subpersonal states and events cannot inform personal-level explanation such that they cast light on what constitutes persons? behaviors. In this paper I argue against this position. After having distinguished between enabling and constitutive relevance, I defend the claim that at least some facts about subpersonal states and events are constitutively relevant to some personal-level phenomenon, and therefore can, and sometimes should, inform personal-level explanations. I draw some of the possible consequences of my claim for our understanding of personal-level behavior by focusing on the phenomenon of addiction
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DOI 10.1080/09515089.2012.667623
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