Identity and influence

Synthese 202 (5):1-24 (2023)
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Abstract

How worried should we be about how impressionable we are—how susceptible we are to being influenced and even transformed by our encounters with one another? Some moral philosophers think we should be quite worried indeed: they hold that interpersonal influence is an especially morally dangerous way to change. It calls for additional moral scrutiny as compared with vectors of change that come from within the influencee’s own psyche—their antecedent values, desires, commitments, and so forth—just because it has an external source. I argue that this heightened scrutiny of exogenous sources of change is unwarranted. Dramatic psychic changes do call for reflection and critical scrutiny, especially when they are sudden. But this scrutiny need not be concerned with the procedural issue of whether the impetus for the change came from inside or outside the changing person’s antecedent psychology. We can just evaluate the substantive changes themselves.

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Daniela Dover
University of California, Los Angeles

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