This paper challenges the idea that there is a natural opposition between self-interest and morality. It does by developing an account of self-love according to which we can have self-regarding reasons that (1) differ substantially from the standard conception of self-interest, and that (2) share enough crucial features with moral reasons to count as morally respectable.
This paper argues that there are practical problems of such a kind that neither impartial morality nor rational choice theory can provide us with comfort and guidance in our attempt to make the right choice if confronted with such a problem. It argues that both morality and rational choice theory are bound to misconstrue problems of this kind. Appreciating the limits of both morality and rational choice theory, as currently discussed in the literature , enables us to identify the features (...) of these particular practical problems, and allows us to elaborate the idea of an alternative of oneself, which is crucial to a proper understanding of the kind of practical problem the paper draws attention to. (shrink)
In this paper, however, I shall explore an alternative motivational structure for our engagements with strangers, one that highlights the importance of reasons for love. Besides being a useful and promising alternative to impartial indifference, this motivational structure is theoretically interesting in its own right because it will enable us to improve our understanding of an important distinction between two types of reasons related to love – reasons of love and reasons for love.
In this paper I argue for the claim that self - love is a precondition for self -knowledge. This claim is relevant to the contemporary philosophical debate on self -knowledge, but mainly because it draws attention to the role of claims of self -knowledge in the larger context of our ordinary practice of rationalizing and appropriating our actions. In this practice it is crucial for persons to open-mindedly investigate the limits of their own responsible agency, an investigation that requires a (...) warm and gentle kindness to avoid both being too easy in welcoming and too merciless in resisting one’s own imperfections as a minded agent. This kindness, I argue, is grounded in an evaluative relation of caring, a type of relation that is incompatible with self -hatred. (shrink)
This paper investigates the possibilities of ordinary people to estabish a moral authority in a subclass of everyday scenarios in the public domain that are characterised by an underdetermination of the obtaining norms and regulations. The paper offers a strategy based on hospitality to challenge the all too common practice of ignoring one’s responsibility as a moral agent and to hide in one’s shell, hoping that others (police power!) will solve one’s problem. The paper begins with a description of a (...) few scenarios in which it is less or more complicated for people to intervene as authorities. The tendency in such scenarios to retreat from one’s responsibility is analysed in terms of a distinction between power and authority, the latter enabling interventions based on a framework of justifying reasons. It is argued that a lack of confidence in the availability of such a framework of justifying reasons might explain the popularity of the current defensive tendency, especially against the background belief that interventions based on power are by default unjustified. An analysis is provided of trust as an attitude that complements authority. No authority, and no framework of justifying reasons, without trust. But a crucial feature of trust is the courage to accept one’s own vulnerability. This insight is used as the stepping stone for the alternative stategey based on hospitality. A sketch is provided of how this might work, involving five steps, the crucial ones being (1) an invitation to the other people in the scenario to compose a plural subject and (2) an offer to take up the responsibility to host this plural subject acknowledging one’s vulnerabilty to the independence of one’s guests. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that to understand minded agency – the capacity we typically find instantiated in instances of human behaviour that could sensibly be questioned by asking “What did you do?” – one needs to understand childhood, i.e. the trajectory of learning to act. I discuss two different types of trajectory, both of which seem to take place during childhood and both of which might be considered crucial to learning to act: a growth of bodily control and a (...) growth in taking responsibility. The discussion of GTR takes up about half of the entire paper. In the final two sections I argue that GTR is the most promising trajectory in terms of which to understand a child’s process of learning to act. (shrink)
‘Kijk. Mijn kasteel heeft het overleefd!’ roept mijn zoon enthousiast. We zijn hier gisteren ook aan het strand geweest en er is inderdaad nog iets te herkennen van het bouwwerk dat hij hier toen gemaakt heeft. Het hoge water heeft nog niet alle sporen uitgeveegd, maar om nu te zeggen dat de vage contouren in het zand de uitroep rechtvaardigen dat ‘het kasteel’ het ‘overleefd’ heeft… Dat rekt óf het begrip kasteel óf het begrip overleven toch een heel eind verder (...) op dan we normaal gesproken acceptabel zullen vinden. Maar op vakantie zijn we niet zo streng en al zeker niet over de woorden van een kind. Ik begrijp heel goed wat hij bedoelt en ik zie het zelf ook. Inderdaad, hier waren we gisteren en het kasteel van mijn zoon heeft de nacht overleefd. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Philip Pettit's ethocentric account of rule-following is elaborated and defended in this paper as basically a story about the capacity to reason organized around largely implicit assumptions about what is and what is not normal. It is argued that this account can be insightfully used to elucidate the practical reasoning of agents confronted with the normative indeterminacy that seems to be characteristic of radically new situations. It is shown that practical reasoning consists to a large extent in the capacity to (...) articulate, specify, and evaluate implicit assumptions about what is and what is not normal. One corollary of this account of practical reason is investigated in some detail: the predominant role of intrapersonal divergence of habits in reasoning about an apparent normative indeterminacy and the related, merely criteriological role of convergence with respect to determining the right rules to follow. (shrink)
It is argued that the little everyday things of life often provide excellent entries into the intellectual problems of academic philosophy. This is illustrated with an analysis of four small stories taken from daily life in which people are in agony because they do not know what to do. It is argued that the crucial question in these stories is a philosophical question; not a closed request for empirical or formal information, but an open question about how best to conceive (...) of human experience. (shrink)
Learning to Act.Jan Bransen - 2016 - Symposion. Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 3 (1):11-35.details
In this paper I argue that to understand minded agency – the capacity we typically find instantiated in instances of human behaviour that could sensibly be questioned by asking “What did you do?” – one needs to understand childhood, i.e. the trajectory of learning to act. I discuss two different types of trajectory, both of which seem to take place during childhood and both of which might be considered crucial to learning to act: a growth of bodily control (GBC) and (...) a growth in taking responsibility (GTR). The discussion of GTR takes up about half of the entire paper. In the final two sections I argue that GTR is the most promising trajectory in terms of which to understand a child’s process of learning to act. (shrink)