One Self per Customer? From Disunified Agency to Disunified Self

Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (3):314-335 (2017)
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The notion of an agent and the notion of a self are connected, for agency is one role played by the self. Millgram argues for a disunity thesis of agency on the basis of extreme incommensurability across some major life events. We propose a similar negative thesis about the self, that it is composed of relatively independent threads reflecting the different roles and different mind-sets of the person's life. Our understanding of those threads is based on theories of the narrative construction of the self. Our disunity thesis is that there need be no overarching narrative that unifies those narrative threads. To explain how the threads hang together to produce coherent action, we make these positive claims: control normally switches smoothly and unconsciously between threads as circumstances require, within one thread there is likely to be acknowledgment of other threads, some situations require a temporary blending of threads, and some plans and policies reach across different threads and contribute to some coordination among them. Our account of a self provides an account of agency that has merits in comparison to Millgram's. Our narrative approach allows explanations of actions beyond rational deliberation.
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Consciousness Explained.Lycan, William G. & Dennett, Daniel C.
The Sources of Normativity.Korsgaard, Christine
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Scheffler, Samuel & MacIntyre, Alasdair
Shared Intention.Bratman, Michael

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