Processual Individuals and Moral Responsibility
Ferner (Adam)
Source: Meincke (Anne Sophie) & Dupre (John), Eds. - Biological Identity: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsBooks / Papers Citing this PaperColour-ConventionsDisclaimer

Editors’ Abstract1

  1. Adam Ferner’s chapter ‘Processual Individuals and Moral Responsibility’, critically examines the processual view of biological individuals which Ferner, like Wiggins2, interprets as maintaining that organisms, qua processes, are composed of numerically different temporal parts.
  2. Ferner’s particular concern is with the resulting shift in our self-conception. He argues that Wiggins’s arguments against the (four-dimensionalist type of) process view of organisms are compelling not only ontologically but also with respect to moral responsibility; it seems hard to conceive of one temporal part being responsible for the actions committed by another temporal part.
  3. Our ordinary concept of moral responsibility presupposes the idea that we are substances, i.e., continuants. However, Ferner acknowledges that what is held to be a piece of descriptive metaphysics – the neo-Aristotelian substance view – may actually contain normative elements.
  4. Looking at the criticism directed by post-modern philosophers against the (neo-)liberal concept of the unified, boundaried, atomic, sovereign human subject, Ferner concludes that the processual understanding of the human subject may prove useful in counteracting the marginalisation of collective responsibility inherent in substance ontology.


I don't yet have a copy of this paper. I will buy the book when it comes out.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Footnote 2:

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

© Theo Todman, June 2007 - Sept 2020. Please address any comments on this page to File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this Page Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page Return to Theo Todman's Home Page