Ethical Perspectives 5 (1):36-43 (1998)

Authors
Willem Lemmens
University of Antwerp
Abstract
In his moral psychology, Prof. Frankfurt pays special attention to two strongly related issues which should be given pride of place in every genuine account of human action and behaviour: these issues are the problem of personal autonomy and what I would like to call the problem of self-constitution. The first concerns the question what it means to be a fully human, rational agent, i.e., someone who is accountable for and in one way or another conscious of what he does and desires; the second concerns the question how human beings become selves or persons with a particular identity, i.e., somebody who is not only accountable for and conscious of his or her own deeds, desires and preferences at a given time, but also able to identify with his or her personal life-history, as a through time related structure of deeds, beliefs, volitions, preferences and desires.In the following, I shall first of all formulate a rather free interpretation of the important and penetrating reflections of Prof. Frankfurt on the concept of care, which, as I understand it, accounts for the interdependence of autonomy and self-constitution. I shall then formulate a critical reflection and some related questions, more or less inspired by Charles Taylor’s investigations of the constitution of the self and the problem of rational autonomy. As is well known, Taylor has been partly influenced by Frankfurt’s writings on these issues, but of course — and that’s what my questions will be about — I leave it to Prof. Frankfurt to determine how well Taylor’s suggestive account of the constitution of the authentic self fits the Frankfurtian descriptive metaphysics of human mind and action.
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DOI 10.2143/EP.5.1.563106
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