Prudence and Person-Stages

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Persons care about their future selves. They reason about their future selves’ interests; they plan for their future selves’ happiness and they worry about their future selves’ suffering. This paper is interested in the interplay between diachronic prudential reason and certain accounts of the metaphysics of personal identity that fall under the broad umbrella ‘conventionalist’. Some conventionalists conclude that under certain conditions there are intractable decisions for there is no fact of the matter regarding whether a person-stage ought (prudentially) to ϕ. This paper will suggest otherwise. These decisions are not intractable if we allow that it is sometimes rational for a person-stage to discount the utility of certain future person-stages. The paper then goes on to explore an alternative position that conventionalists might occupy which does not involve any such discounting: prudential relativism. According to prudential relativism it is impossible to offer a single, correct, answer to the question: should person-stage, P, ϕ at t? For according to prudential relativism there is no stage-independent stance from which to evaluate whether a person-stage ought to ϕ. Yet it is not, for all that, intractable, from P’s perspective, whether or not to ϕ.
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First archival date: 2015-08-26
Latest version: 1 (2018-09-06)
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How Things Persist.Hawley, Katherine
Well-Being and Time.Velleman, J. David

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