Thanks very much to Thomas Nadelhoffer for the invitation. I really appreciate it. And greetings to everyone from Muenster, Germany, where I have a research post at the Center for Advanced Study on Bioethics and am on sabbatical this Fall. Soon (Oct 18-20) we are having a conference on autonomy here in Muenster, and I look forward to seeing Al Mele (who will give a paper) and other friends.
I thought I'd kick this off with some questions/puzzles.
Let's say you have a view of the conditions for moral responsibility which includes (crucially) "identification". On a view such as Frankfurt's (and others), an agent is morally responsible for some action at least in part in virtue of identifying with the motivational state that issues in action (or perhaps with the action). But I wonder: how can Frankfurt (or in general the proponent of such a view) distinguish what or who the agent *really is* from what or who the agent *wants or wants ideally to be*. In other words, how can Frankfurt or the proponent of an identification-based account of moral responsibility distinguish between the "real self" and the "ego-ideal".
Of course, different identification-theorists will have different particular accounts of identification (and Frankfurt has himself offered different accounts over the course of his career). But does he (or do such theorists) have resources available by reference to which they can make the distinction in question? And it seems important to them: they want to hold that moral responsibility is action that issues in some way from the real or true self, rather than what the agent merely wants to be like (the wannabe-true self).
Any thoughts? In the next post, I plan to ask what the connection is (or should be) between action issuing from the "true or real self" and moral responsibility. But here the question is about the relationship between "identifcation" and the true or real self. To me it seems like a major problem that the identification theorist doesn't seem to have the resources to distinguish the real self from the wannabe-real self (ego ideal). Perhaps this is a reason to prefer the paradigm of ownership to that of identification--what do you think?