DEREK PARFIT REASONS AND PERSONS PDF
sea, lies open again; peihaps there has never yet been such an 'open sea'. REASONS AND. PERSONS. BY. DEREK PARFIT. CLARENDON PRESS - OXFORD. Reasons and Persons. Derek Parfit. Abstract. This book has four loosely connected parts. Part One discusses some ways in which theories about morality and. Reasons and Persons By Derek Parﬁt CLARENDON PRESS · OXFORD Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP Oxford University Press is a department of.
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Challenging, with several powerful arguments, some of our deepest beliefs about rationality, morality, and personal identity, Parfit claims that we have a false. DEREK PARFIT that the resulting person has my character and apparent memories . others in which, for quite unpuzzling reasons, there is no answer. Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Clarendon, ). H Rawlsian Principles of, the least~favoured representative' man; but there is no man who.
What matters, to Parfit, is simply "Relation R," psychological connectedness, including memory, personality, and so on. Parfit continues this logic to establish a new context for morality and social control. He cites that it is morally wrong for one person to harm or interfere with another person and it is incumbent on society to protect individuals from such transgressions.
That accepted, it is a short extrapolation to conclude that it is also incumbent on society to protect an individual's "Future Self" from such transgressions; tobacco use could be classified as an abuse of a Future Self's right to a healthy existence.
Parfit resolves the logic to reach this conclusion, which appears to justify incursion into personal freedoms, but he does not explicitly endorse such invasive control.
Parfit's conclusion is similar to David Hume 's view, and also to the view of the self in Buddhism , though it does not restrict itself to a mere reformulation of them. For besides being reductive, Parfit's view is also deflationary: in the end, "what matters" is not personal identity, but rather mental continuity and connectedness. Future generations[ edit ] Part 4 deals with questions of our responsibility towards future generations, also known as population ethics. It raises questions about whether it can be wrong to create a life, whether environmental destruction violates the rights of future people, and so on.
One question Parfit raises is this: given that the course of history drastically affects what people are actually born since it affects which potential parents actually meet and have children; and also, a difference in the time of conception will alter the genetic makeup of the child , do future persons have a right to complain about our actions, since they likely wouldn't exist if things had been different?
Another problem Parfit looks at is the mere addition paradox , which supposedly shows that it is better to have a lot of people who are slightly happy, than a few people who are very happy. Parfit calls this view "repugnant", but says he has not yet found a solution.
Reception[ edit ] Bernard Williams described Reasons and Persons as "brilliantly clever and imaginative", and commended it as part of a wave of work in analytic philosophy that deals with concrete moral problems rather than abstract meta-ethics.
London Review of Books. These people seem to be the same person. Indeed, these people share memories and personality traits. But there are no further facts in the world that make them the same person. Parfit's argument for this position relies on our intuitions regarding thought experiments such as teleportation , the fission and fusion of persons, gradual replacement of the matter in one's brain, gradual alteration of one's psychology, and so on.
For example, Parfit asks the reader to imagine entering a "teletransporter," a machine that puts you to sleep, then destroys you, breaking you down into atoms, copying the information and relaying it to Mars at the speed of light.
On Mars, another machine re-creates you from local stores of carbon, hydrogen, and so on , each atom in exactly the same relative position. Parfit poses the question of whether or not the teletransporter is a method of travel—is the person on Mars the same person as the person who entered the teletransporter on Earth?
Certainly, when waking up on Mars, you would feel like being you, you would remember entering the teletransporter in order to travel to Mars, you would even feel the cut on your upper lip from shaving this morning.
Then the teleporter is upgraded.
The teletransporter on Earth is modified to not destroy the person who enters it, but instead it can simply make infinite replicas, all of whom would claim to remember entering the teletransporter on Earth in the first place. Using thought experiments such as these, Parfit argues that any criteria we attempt to use to determine sameness of person will be lacking, because there is no further fact. What matters, to Parfit, is simply "Relation R," psychological connectedness, including memory, personality, and so on.
Parfit continues this logic to establish a new context for morality and social control. He cites that it is morally wrong for one person to harm or interfere with another person and it is incumbent on society to protect individuals from such transgressions.
That accepted, it is a short extrapolation to conclude that it is also incumbent on society to protect an individual's "Future Self" from such transgressions; tobacco use could be classified as an abuse of a Future Self's right to a healthy existence. Parfit resolves the logic to reach this conclusion, which appears to justify incursion into personal freedoms, but he does not explicitly endorse such invasive control. Parfit's conclusion is similar to David Hume 's view, and also to the view of the self in Buddhism , though it does not restrict itself to a mere reformulation of them.
For besides being reductive , Parfit's view is also deflationary: Part 4 deals with questions of our responsibility towards future generations, also known as population ethics. It raises questions about whether it can be wrong to create a life, whether environmental destruction violates the rights of future people, and so on. Gray's postulation that one can hear and the other is stone deaf means that for one person sounds are discriminative stimuli while for the other they are not.
The identity of their behavior at the present moment means no more than…the identity of the behavior of Picasso and a kindergarten child both, at the present moment, painting a yellow line in the upper right corner of a piece of paper.
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In all cases the crucial distinction lies in behavior in the long run, behavior considered in molar terms, behavior as real as a punch in the nose…. In order to treat a pattern of behavior over time as a real event, and to deal with it as a scientific datum, it is not necessary to postulate a spiritual event, a neurophysiological event, or a cognitive event whose only property is to internally represent the behavioral pattern at every moment during its performance.
The difference between deaf and hearing people, both doing the same thing at the present moment, lies in the behavioral context of the present moment. Similarly, the difference between a person acting morally over some period of time for good reasons and one acting morally over a corresponding period simply because he desires to do so lies in the still wider or more abstract patterns of which these subpatterns form a part.
Nevertheless, Parfit would not want to say that, because he finds no entirely rational ethics, it is impossible to act morally for reasons as opposed to desires. Except at the extremes, the distinction between reasons and desires is indeed meaningful. Alright then, you may be asking, why should a behaviorist be interested in this book?
For two reasons, mainly, in addition to the goal of establishing a secular morality. Individual actions and thoughts take time and overlap with each other giving us the illusion of a continuous self. You may have as little in common with yourself twenty years from now as you do currently with a distant cousin. A person's continuous character is, according to Parfit, no more or less real than the character we ascribe to groups of people such as families, clubs, firms, or nations.
As he says p. Nations exist. Though nations exist, a nation is not an entity that exists separately, apart from its citizens and its territory. Since your concern or lack of concern for other people involves moral issues, Parfit says, so does your concern or lack of concern for your future self.
Therefore and this is the second great virtue of Parfit's book issues of social cooperation and altruism on the one hand and self-control on the other are treated in the same way. A motorcyclist's refusal to wear a helmet would be, for Parfit, a moral issue, not just because other people may have to pay a price for her brain injury, but also because her future self may have to pay a price.
As Parfit emphasizes, both self-reductionism and the correspondence of altruism and self-control are difficult concepts for people to accept. Just as a nation is nothing more than its territory and people, and a person is nothing more than his body, his behavior, and his psychological states, so the teleological behaviorist says his psychological states sensing, perceiving, remembering, thinking, feeling, and so forth are no more than his behavioral patterns.
To define mind-reductionism in Parfit's terms: Mind-reductionism is the notion that each person's mind just involves the existence of a brain and body, and the doing of certain deeds. Consider the following scenario mine, not Parfit's : Abe is on his deathbed. They hate him.
Derek Parfit: The Philosopher’s Philosopher
Can Abe possibly be right? For Parfit, and almost all modern philosophers, it is at least conceivable that he is right. For them, such a disconnect between love and behavior may be an empirical rarity but is nevertheless not impossible because, for them, love is an internal event potentially accessible to introspection.
For a mind-reductionist, on the other hand, it is as inconceivable that Abe loved his family as it is that a pair of teams playing baseball are really playing football. For a mind-reductionist, love, like other mental states, is overt behavior. It is thus impossible for love to go one way and a long-term pattern of behavior to go another way.
It is reductionist when it comes to the self, but anti-reductionist when it comes to the mind. Nevertheless it is easy to translate his language into behavioral i. Here is what he says p. We could therefore redescribe any person's life in impersonal terms. If the thinking of a person's thoughts occurs wholly or in part within the person, as Parfit believes, then how could that mental action be described impersonally?
Hastings Center Report
Parfit does not say. But if the thinking of a person's thoughts is potentially observable by another person, then the person's life may truly be described in impersonal terms. Parfit's self-reductionism and its implications occupy the middle of the book. They are preceded by extensive discussions of personal and moral dilemmas, time, and rationality, and followed by an exploration of what we owe to future generations.
All of this ought to be of great interest to behaviorists. Working from the inside out, Parfit discusses personal dilemmas first and moral dilemmas second.
Personal Dilemmas Personal dilemmas are what a psychologist would call self-control dilemmas. They involve attempts to follow the apparently simple Self-Interest Theory, S p. S is thus not a pure pleasure theory.
Dilemmas arise, however, when one sub-aim conflicts with another. Here is an example p.It helps us shift our focus to a more impersonal, altruistic, and selfless approach of life and the world.
Consequentialism and Moral Rationalism. In order to reach and stay at Point A, the alcoholic must be, in Parfit's terms, rationally irrational; in order to obtain a more abstract and high-valued state, his particular acts must be, according to Parfit, irrational.
If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE. Parfit seems to be saying that book quality is somehow more objective and less personal than amount of work, anxiety, depression, or boredom. Or Neither?
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