Self-determination, self-transformation, and the case of Jean Valjean: a problem for Velleman

Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2591-2598 (2015)
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Abstract

According to reductionists about agency, an agent’s bringing something about is reducible to states and events involving the agent bringing something about. Many have worried that reductionism cannot accommodate robust forms of agency, such as self-determination. One common reductionist answer to this worry contends that self-determining agents are identified with certain states and events, and so these states and events causing a decision counts as the agent’s self-determining the decision. In this paper I discuss J. David Velleman’s identification reductionist theory, according to which an agent is identified with his desire to make most sense of himself. I develop two constraints that an adequate identification reductionist theory must satisfy and show that Velleman’s theory cannot satisfy both. In particular, I argue that Velleman’s account founders on cases of self-determined self-transformation

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Citations of this work

The Problem of Enhanced Control.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):687 - 706.
Grounding the Luck Objection.Neal A. Tognazzini - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (1):127-138.
Cares, Identification, and Agency Reductionism.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):577-598.

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References found in this work

Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
The Possibility of Practical Reason.David Velleman - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by J. David Velleman.
Free agency.Gary Watson - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (April):205-20.

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