Personhood, Self-Shaping, and the Good

Anthony Rudd

in Self, Value, and Narrative

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199660049
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744976 | DOI:
Personhood, Self-Shaping, and the Good

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Drawing on the work of Harry Frankfurt, this chapter argues that to be a person is to have a capacity for higher-order identification with first-order desires, and that this reflective identification transforms desires into the stable cares and loves that, in large part, define our sense of who we are. But it also follows some of Frankfurt’s critics (Watson, Taylor, Wolf) in arguing that such identification must involves effective self-evaluation, and that this presupposes the reality of objective values to provide the ultimate standards to which one appeals in such self-scrutiny. This is therefore an argument for evaluative realism and closely parallels Kierkegaard’s argument for the ethical against the aesthetic. The chapter concludes by arguing that it is not merely that we have to act as if there are objective values; to be a person (a serious self-evaluator) involves presupposing in practice that there really are objective values.

Keywords: care; evaluative realism; Frankfurt; higher-order identifications; love; self-evaluation; Taylor; Watson; Wolf

Chapter.  12244 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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