- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Forensic Property1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Summary" above.
Write-up2 (as at 16/02/2018 00:30:14): Forensic Property
- This Note will discuss the relation of personal identity to ethics, and how much ethical issues ought to drive our thoughts on the metaphysics of personal identity.
- Locke4 had concerns about the correct attribution of moral blame or praise on the Great Day of Reckoning, but I doubt the importance to be given to forensic aspects for the topic of personal identity, other than as a historical motivator.
- I reject Frankfurt’s proposal (see "Frankfurt (Harry) - Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person") that wantons5 are not persons6, on the grounds that they do satisfy the other standard conditions of personhood: they satisfy rationality and linguistic conditions, have a first-person perspective7 and survival8 matters9 to them.
- The issue of the punishment of already-reformed or amnesiac criminals has been thought relevant to issues of personal identity, as though any reluctance to punish was tied to doubts about identity. Such doubts only reflect confusion on the purpose of punishment; it depends whether we think of punishment as reformative, retributive, a deterrent, or merely treat incarceration or execution as a necessary evil for the protection of society (by eliminating the source of harm).
- Only if we think of punishment as reformative, so there’s no point punishing the seriously repentant, might we have doubts about the propriety of carrying out the punishment. However, the reason isn’t that the criminal is a different person but that the needed reformation has already taken place.
- From the other perspectives, for instance the retributive, there is still a point to the punishment of the already-reformed criminal (cf. C.S. Lewis’s advice – probably in "Lewis (C.S.) - Mere Christianity" – to the converted murderer as to his Christian duty – it is “to be hanged”; presumably because this was, in Lewis’s day, his debt to the state, to which, as a good Christian, he must submit), and the temptation to provide reasons not to doesn’t arise.
- With respect to amnesiacs, again there’s only a reluctance to punish on the reformatory view, but again the reluctance has nothing to do with questions of identity, but of the attempt at reformation being ineffective or even counter-productive. If I’m punished for something I can’t remember doing, I’m likely to resent the authority that punishes me.
- There is a question of whether persons10, as distinct from human beings11, are the subjects of special moral concern, or whether it is the reverse implication – that those for whom we feel a special moral concern should be accounted persons.
- Whether all persons are morally equal is another matter altogether. This is relevant because if the Great Apes were to be counted as persons, of what moral status would they be? See "Rachels (James) - Morality without the Idea that Humans are Special", in "Rachels (James) - Created From Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism", for “Moral Individualism”, the view that difference of moral treatment should depend only on the individual’s characteristics, not their group membership, though thus baldly-stated this raises huge questions.
- The Great Ape Project (absurdly, it seems to me; see "Cavalieri (Paola) & Singer (Peter), Eds. - The Great Ape Project - Equality Beyond Humanity") demands moral equality between humans and the great apes, on the grounds that the latter have intellectual capabilities on a par with human 2-3 year-olds. Even human beings aren’t equal in their capacities, but we can invent a law demanding that we treat them equally, and we can enact a law extending this moral equality to encompass the great apes, or even stones, if we like. If the great apes satisfy the criteria for personhood, they are persons, but the right to equality of treatment is only loosely connected to capacities.
- See also my – rather dubious – Note on Degrees of Personhood12
- Several papers in the reading lists below are also covered under the Note on Locke, and are only partly relevant.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read13, include14 the following:-
- "Benatar (David) - Kids? Just say no", Benatar
- "Cavalieri (Paola) & Singer (Peter), Eds. - The Great Ape Project - Equality Beyond Humanity", Cavalieri
- "Frankfurt (Harry) - Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person", Frankfurt
- "Rachels (James) - Created From Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism", Rachels
- "Scheffler (Samuel) - The Independence and Distinctness of the Personal Point of View", Scheffler
- "Shoemaker (David) - Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction", Shoemaker
- "Von Wachter (Daniel) - Free Agents as Cause", Von Wachter
- "Williams (Bernard) - Ethical Consistency", Williams
- "Williams (Bernard) - Persons, Character and Morality", Williams
- A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Persons and the Natural Order", Baker
- "Benatar (David) - Better Never to Have Been: The Harm Of Coming Into Existence", Benatar
- "Bennett (Jonathan) - Locke on Diachronic Identity-Judgements", Bennett
- "Brennan (Andrew) - Concepts of a Person", Brennan
- "Conee (Earl) - Metaphysics and the morality of abortion", Conee
→ "Chappell (Tim), Chappell (Sophie Grace) - The Relevance of Metaphysics to Bioethics: A Reply to Earl Conee", Chappell
→ "Conee (Earl) - Reply to Timothy Chappell", Conee
- "Johnston (Mark) - What Is Found At The Center?", Johnston
- "Noonan (Harold) - Locke", Noonan
- "Rovane (Carol) - The Bounds of Agency: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics", Rovane
→ "Schechtman (Marya) - Review of 'The Bounds of Agency: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics'"
→ "Wallace (Kathleen) - Agency, Personhood, and Identity: Carol Rovane's The Bounds of Agency"
- "Shoemaker (David) - Theoretical Persons and Practical Agents", Shoemaker
- "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Persons and Personal Identity", Shoemaker
- "Strawson (Galen) - 'The Secrets of All Hearts': Locke on Personal Identity", Strawson
→ "Strawson (Galen) - 'Where our responsibility lies': Locke on personal identity"
- "Williams (Bernard) - Moral Incapacity", Williams
- "Williams (Bernard) - The Idea of Equality", Williams
- This is mostly a place-holder15.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (16/02/2018 00:30:14).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- A number of my philosophical Notes are “promissory notes” currently only listing the books and papers (if any) I possess on the topic concerned.
- I’ve decided to add some text – whether by way of motivation, or something more substantive – for all these identified topics related to my Thesis.
- As I want to do this fairly quickly, the text may be confused or show surprising ignorance.
- The reader (if such exists) will have to bear with me, and display the principle of charity while this footnote exists.
- Frequently I’ll have made copious marginal annotations, and sometimes have written up a review-note.
- In the former case, I intend to transfer the annotations into electronic form as soon as I can find the time.
- In the latter case, I will have remarked on the fact against the citation, and will integrate the comments into this Note in due course.
- My intention is to incorporate into these Notes comments on material I’ve already read rather than engage with unread material at this stage.
- I may have read others in between updates of this Note – in which case they will be marked as such in the “References and Reading List” below.
- Papers or Books partially read have a rough %age based on the time spent versus the time expected.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018