Locke on Education, Persons, and Moral Agency

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 31 (2):1-9 (2023)
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In her book Experience Embodied Anik Waldow devotes a chapter to “Locke’s Experimental Persons.” Her chapter aims to show how Locke’s views on persons, personal identity, and moral agency in his Essay concerning Human Understanding build on his esteem-based approach to education that he develops in Some Thoughts concerning Education. After outlining main contributions that Waldow makes in her chapter, I turn to three issues that in my view deserve further consideration. First, I draw attention to the question of how Locke’s esteem-based education can be reconciled with his moral views in the Essay. I propose that the question of how children become persons or moral agents who see their actions bound by divine law is worth examining with more detail. Second, I contrast Waldow’s interpretation of what a Lockean action is with an alternative interpretation and show that this has implications for how we understand the role of consciousness in Locke’s account of persons and personal identity. Third, I take a closer look at Waldow’s view that consciousness has an epistemic function in Locke’s account of persons and personal identity and highlight advantages of also acknowledging a metaphysical function of consciousness.

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Ruth Boeker
University College Dublin


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