Compatibilism and personal identity

Philosophical Studies 170 (2):317-334 (2014)
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Compatibilists disagree over whether there are historical conditions on moral responsibility. Historicists claim there are, whilst structuralists deny this. Historicists motivate their position by claiming to avoid the counter-intuitive implications of structuralism. I do two things in this paper. First, I argue that historicism has just as counter-intuitive implications as structuralism when faced with thought experiments inspired by those found in the personal identity literature. Hence, historicism is not automatically preferable to structuralism. Second, I argue that structuralism is much more plausible once we accept that personal identity is irrelevant to moral responsibility. This paves the way for a new structuralist account that makes clear what it takes to be the diachronic ownership condition (which is normally taken to be personal identity) and the locus of moral responsibility (which is normally taken to be ‘whole’ person), and helps to alleviate the intuitive unease many have with respect to structuralism

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Benjamin Matheson
Universitat de Valencia


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