Are My Temporal Parts Agents?

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2):362-379 (2020)
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When we think about ethics, we normally focus on a particular sort of agent: the individual person. Some philosophers have argued that we should rethink the limits of what counts as an ethically relevant unit of agency by expanding outward, and claiming that groups of people can have normative reasons for action. In this paper, I explore whether we can go in the other direction. Are there sub‐personal beings who count as agents with their own reasons for action? In particular, might the temporal parts of persons, beings like “me‐in‐my‐twenties,” be thought of as normative agents? This idea, I argue, has deep attractions, and deep, but surmountable, challenges. And if we do accept this idea, I argue, this can indirectly help to support the case for thinking that groups can have reasons for action.

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Alexander Dietz
University of Southern California (PhD)


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