True to ourselves

The paper addresses the problem of authenticity from a point of view that diverges from the more usual social, political, or moral approaches, by focusing very explicitly on the internal psychological make-up of human agents in an attempt to identify the conditions that would enable us to use the colloquial phrase 'being true to ourselves' in a way that is philosophically tenable. First, it is argued that the most important and problematic condition is the requirement that agents can be the source of normative constraints which they themselves should attempt to respect. In the main part of the paper an argument is developed against a more or less Humean interpretation of this crucial requirement, according to which agents can be the source of normative constraints because they have desires , and a more or less Kantian interpretation, according to which agents can be the source of normative constraints because they have the capacity to judge . The Humean account is unsatisfactory, because it fails to make sense of the normativity of the content of desires, and because it cannot account on its own for what makes a person's desires her own . The Kantian account is also unsatisfactory, because, although it can account for the difference between being true to someone else and being true to certain principles, it is unable to account for the difference between being true to oneself and being true to principles. In the final part I shall suggest a way out of this impasse by claiming that the intelligibility of the phenomenon of being true to oneself crucially depends on the, yet to be explored, possibility of developing an account of self-respect that involves both de se attitudes and the idea of ourselves being valuable entities.
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DOI 10.1080/096725598342190
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John Searle (1983). Intentionality. Oxford University Press.

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