PHIL Seminar: “Diachronic Agency as Group Agency and the Kantian Formula of Humanity”, Andrew Thomas Fyfe, 3:30PM January 27 (EN)

Title: Diachronic Agency as Group Agency and the Kantian Formula of Humanity

Speaker: Andrew Thomas Fyfe (University of Maryland, Philosophy)

Date: Friday January 27, 2023
Time: 1530-1700
Room: H232

Abstract: A common way of arguing for Kantian ethics relies on the following questionable premise: “By taking my choices to confer goodness upon my freely chosen ends, I am thereby committed to also taking the choices of others as having the same power.” In my talk, I will defend this important premise by putting forth a somewhat paradoxical sounding theory of individual agency. One that treats temporally extended individual agency as a manifestation of group agency. I argue that diachronic individual agency results when the different momentary time-slice deliberators occupying our body serially (à la Derek Parfit) deliberate and work together as a team to set joint ends and perform joint actions. This leads me to defend the important Kantian premise given above in a manner inspired by Thomas Nagel’s The Possibility of Altruism (1978). Specifically, I argue that to be a diachronic agent, I must cooperate and engage in team reasoning with my future time-slices. However, those future time-slices are just as much a stranger to me currently as other agents. The upshot is that in order to have the correct sort of team reasoning attitude toward the future time-slices which occupy this body and ground my own diachronic agency, I must first have this attitude toward all potential agents. This result will ultimately ground my argument for the need for us to not just value the ends we choose for ourselves but also the ends chosen by others

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