Date of Award
Master of Arts
William F. Bristow, Luca Ferrero
Commitment, Diachronic Agency, Korsgaard, Publicity of Reasons
In Self-Constitution Christine Korsgaard argues that our reasons are public. What she means by this is that if a rational agent has a reason to perform some action, it is a reason that has normative force for everyone who is a rational agent. Korsgaard also argues in Self-Constitution that when we will a course of action, we must do so in the form of a determinate commitment. Doing so requires determining some reasons to be bad reasons to opt out of the course of action that we will. Finally, Korsgaard claims that the selves occupying our own body at different times are distinct agents unless their wills are unified. In this paper, I will argue that Korsgaard's views about diachronic identity produce tensions between her claims that reasons are public and that volition involves determinate commitment. If reasons are public, then my future self's reasons whatever they may be cannot be preemptively dismissed as bad reasons. Yet, in order to commit ourselves to a determinate course of action through our wills, Korsgaard claims that this is precisely what we must do. The only way for Korsgaard to resolve this conflict between her claims is to argue that the form of commitment she describes is a necessary form of mediation between the reasons of agents occupying the same body at different times. I will consider an argument that mediating in this manner is necessary for the efficacious pursuit of our ends, and therefore required by the constitutive features of agency. I will show that this argument is unsuccessful in establishing that such a strategy of diachronic coordination is required to pursue our ends and that, further, such a strategy will impinge upon autonomy of agents subject to it since it allows the deliberating self to arbitrarily establish restrictions on the reasons its future self might be motivated by.
Shope, David, "Commitment and Temporal Mediation in Korsgaard's Self-Constitution" (2013). Theses and Dissertations. 224.