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The primary end of an account of personal identity is to discover what phenomena explain a person’s status as a unified agent and contribute to the person’s self-understanding. This paper explores the consequences upon a person’s ability to understand her motives for action, as unified agency requires, when the person is removed from the source of her identity and from the practices that support the self-regarding attitudes to which this identity gives rise.
Is it permissible to punish people for crimes they haven’t committed yet—to prepunish? Recently Saul Smilansky has argued that compatibilists lack a principled way to say no, and that thus their claim that determinism makes no moral difference is refuted. In this paper, I offer a response on behalf of the compatibilist. I argue that prepunishment is as much an issue for the libertarian as it is for the compatibilist, and then I gesture towards a solution to the problem of prepunishment that should be available to both.
Thomas Aquinas, along with many other medieval philosophers, believed that God is timeless. Aquinas’s treatment of this doctrine seems to imply a view of time that some commentators have noticed is inescapably tenseless, what we would now call a “B-theory” view of time. This is problematic because Aquinas also seems to affirm that tense and temporal becoming are real, implying that what we would now call an “A-theory” of time is correct. In this essay I attempt to adjudicate this apparent conceptual tension in Aquinas’s thought. After analyzing some of the relevant passages I conclude that these passages inescapably, though perhaps inadvertently, commit Aquinas to what is fundamentally a B-theoretic notion of time. I move on to criticize some philosophers’ attempts to reconcile Aquinas’s treatment of divine timelessness with the A-theory. I argue that all these attempts are unsuccessful. I conclude with what I believe are the implications of my interpretation of Aquinas for his broader system of philosophy.
In Eros and Civilization, Marcuse claims that the two fundamental drives of civilization, namely, Eros and Thanatos, may eventually be reconciled. Such reconciliation, Marcuse contends, could potentially lead to new, utopian possibilities for humankind. However, Marcuse’s argument is deeply flawed: he equates time with death and therefore only defeats a straw man. Thus, it may be argued that Marcuse’s entire project in Eros and Civilization not only remains incomplete, but indeed fails. In the following paper, I demonstrate—by relying on Heidegger’s understanding of temporality in Being and Time—that it may still be possible to reconcile Eros and temporality after all. I conclude that Marcuse’s project may still be viable, but only by reconciling time with Eros, and not death.
Ruth Chang views rational choice as a comparison between the properties borne by the objects under consideration. According to her Comprehensive Value Approach (CVA), each choice situation is rationally resolved by a single value that determines the choice for that situation. This CVA is supposedly distinct from Orthodox Approaches (OA) that deny the necessity of comprehensive values in rational choice. Chang’s defense of the CVA depends on specific issues, namely, features of choice situations, the problem of fragmentation, and the problem of the unity of values. According to Chang, the CVA, but not the OA, can adequately address these issues. Unfortunately, regardless of whether we take Chang’s arguments as defending a cautious conclusion that the Comprehensive Value Approach is a prima facie plausible view of rational choice or a bold conclusion that there are defects in the OA not found in CVA, the arguments are insufficient to support these conclusions.
In this paper I evaluate the nature of the claim that agent-centered restrictions (i.e., a restriction that it is at least sometimes impermissible to violate in circumstances where a violation would serve to minimize total overall violations of the very same restriction and would have no other morally relevant consequences) render deontology inconsistent and address three seemingly promising responses available to the deontologist. The first response is inspired by Kant’s essay “On a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns.” The latter two responses appeal to the importance of personal moral integrity and the moral worth of actions, respectively. I conclude that neither response will allow the deontologist to refute the charge of inconsistency.
With respect to wrongdoing and harm, most accounts of forgiveness focus on benefits of forgiving to the forgiver and others; some advocate vengeance against a wrongdoer; and others argue for reconciliation. However, forgiveness, revenge, and traditional reconciliation may be impossible, inappropriate, or morally undesirable in cases in which people suffer from wounds and scars not healed by time (or by anything else) that can and do alter irrevocably one’s ability to make choices, take actions, or enjoy life fully. In these cases, a form of “reconciliation” that is morally appropriate and morally preferable is reconciliation with, but not to, harm. I argue for an alternative conception of reactions to wrongdoing, wrongdoers, and harm that is a moral competitor to forgiveness, revenge, and traditional reconciliation that centers on the sufferer of harm. Reconciling with harm is morally superior to traditional notions of forgiveness, revenge, and reconciliation with a perpetrator, all of which give more power to the perpetrator than is warranted and less to the harmed person than is deserved. Reconciling with harm is therefore an affirmation of the value of the harmed person and, I argue, a virtue to be cultivated.