Moral Agency, Self-Consciousness, and Practical Wisdom
Gallagher (Shaun)
Source: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 14, Issue 05-06 (2007), pp. 199-223 (25)
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

    This paper argues that self-consciousness1 and moral agency depend crucially on both embodied and social aspects of human existence, and that the capacity for practical wisdom, phronesis, is central to moral personhood. The nature of practical wisdom is elucidated by drawing on rival analyses of expertise. Although ethical expertise and practical wisdom differ importantly, they are alike in that we can acquire them only in interaction with other persons and through habituation. The analysis of moral agency and practical wisdom is framed by Dennett's proposal that moral personhood requires satisfaction of six conditions, including self-consciousness2.
Introduction in "Ikaheimo (Heikki) & Laitinen (Arto) - Dimensions of Personhood"
    Whereas Stekeler-Weithofer discusses sapience in general as what makes persons persons, Shaun Gallagher suggests that practical wisdom, phronesis, is the specific person-making feature. He illuminates the nature of practical wisdom by drawing on rival analyses of expertise. Although expertise and practical wisdom are different things, they are alike in that we can acquire them only in interaction with other persons and through habituation. In general, Gallagher argues for an embodied and intersubjective account of personhood, and supports his view with evidence from neuroscience, developmental psychology and phenomenology. According to Gallagher, such a view can account for all the items in standard lists of conditions of personhood better than views, such as Daniel Dennett’s, which leave open the possibility that persons could be brains-in-a-vat.

Comment:

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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