Reasons and Conscious Persons

In Andrea Sauchelli (ed.), Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons: An Introduction and Critical Inquiry. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 160-186 (2020)
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What justifies holding the person that we are today morally responsible for something we did a year ago? And why are we justified in showing prudential concern for the future welfare of the person we will be a year from now? These questions cannot be systematically pursued without addressing the problem of personal identity. This essay considers whether Buddhist Reductionism, a philosophical project grounded on the idea that persons reduce to a set of bodily, sensory, perceptual, dispositional, and conscious elements, provides support for Parfit’s psychological criterion for personal identity. It examines the role that self-consciousness plays in mediating both self-concern and concern for others, and offers an argument for how reductionism about substantive or enduring selves may be reconciled with the seemingly irreducible character of self-consciousness.

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Christian Coseru
College of Charleston


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