Bare personhood? Velleman on selfhood

Philosophical Explorations 10 (3):263 – 282 (2007)
Abstract
In the Introduction to Self to Self, J. David Velleman claims that 'the word "self" does not denote any one entity but rather expresses a reflexive guise under which parts or aspects of a person are presented to his own mind' (Velleman 2006, 1). Velleman distinguishes three different reflexive guises of the self: the self of the person's self-image, or narrative self-conception; the self of self-sameness over time; and the self as autonomous agent. Velleman's account of each of these different guises of the self is complex and repays close philosophical attention. The first aim of this paper is therefore to provide a detailed analysis of Velleman's view. The second aim is more critical. While I am in agreement with Velleman about the importance of distinguishing the different aspects of selfhood, I argue that, even on his own account, they are more interrelated than he acknowledges. I also analyse the role of the concept of 'bare personhood' in Velleman's approach to selfhood and question whether this concept can function, as he wants it to, to bridge the gap between a naturalistic analysis of reasons for action and Kantian moral reasons
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