Persistence and Responsibility
Tognazzini (Neal A.)
Source: Campbell, O'Rourke & Silverstein - Time and Identity, II - Identity, Chapter 7
Paper - Abstract

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  1. Ascriptions of moral responsibility often seem to depend on ascriptions of identity among agents. Neal A. Tognazzini rebuts several arguments for the claim that the metaphysics of perdurance2 leaves no room for the existence of responsible agents.
  2. Consider our Agent X again, after her imprisonment but before she is subjected to the (Joan Rivers) Process. To be held responsible for her actions, it clearly must be the case that the prisoner is Agent X. But critics of perdurantism3 point out that the object in custody is not all of Agent X. Her captured temporal part differs from her thieving temporal part: they are numerically distinct. But if distinct, how can we hold the captured person-stages responsible for crimes they literally didn't commit?
  3. Tognazzini replies that this and other objections simply represent prejudice against the perdurantist4 way of conceiving of numerical identity5. He writes:
      "The perdurantist6 can quite plausibly claim that what is required for an attribution of moral responsibility to be appropriate is not that 'the self-same entity' be 'wholly present' at both times, but rather that the self-same person be present (but not wholly) at both times" (154).
    And the perdurantist7 can easily make sense of this fact.
  4. In responding to this and similar objections, Tognazzini fleshes out perdurantism8's ability to integrate ascriptions of moral properties to continuants.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from p. 15 of "Slater (Matthew H.) - Framing the Problems of Time and Identity", footnotes removed (for now).

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