The perfect murder: A philosophical whodunit

Synthese 157 (1):47-58 (2007)
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In his Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit argues from the possibility of cases of fission and/or fusion of persons that one must reject identity as what matters for personal survival. Instead Parfit concludes that what matters is “psychological connectedness and/or continuity with the right kind of cause,” or what he calls an R-relation. In this paper, I argue that, if one accepts Parfit’s conclusion, one must accept that R-relations are what matter for moral responsibility as well. Unfortunately, it seems that accepting that the R-relation is what matters for both survival and moral responsibility leads to a contradiction. My goal, however, is not merely to point out a problem in Parfit’s account. Instead, I believe that once we understand the basic intuitions which lead to this contradiction, it is clear that there is no fully satisfactory way to account for what matters with respect to survival and moral responsibility.



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Jeremy Byrd
Tarrant County College

Citations of this work

Agnosticism about moral responsibility.Jeremy Byrd - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):411-432.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Four Dimensionalism.Theodore Sider - 1997 - Philosophical Review 106 (2):197-231.

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