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07/07/2016

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Hi Dan,

Thanks, this is super helpful and really does a lot to get to the heart of the issue. To explore this question further, maybe it will be helpful to draw a distinction between two claims.

First, there is the weak claim that the the notion of a true self plays an important role in moral responsibility judgment.

Second, there is the strong claim that there is a specific sense of responsibility (responsibility as attributability) that is completely based on the true self and not at all on other parts of the self.

My sense is that existing studies suggest that people's ordinary practice conforms to this first claim but not to the second. For example, in my most recent post, I discuss a case in which people seem to think that the agent's anger is not part of his true self. In this case, studies show that people assign less responsibility and blame (first claim), but I don't think that there would be a certain sense of responsibility in which they would not regard the agent as responsible at all (second claim).

In light of this, I am thinking that maybe we have reason to adopt a slightly different understanding of the notion of a true self. This notion does indeed play a role in responsibility judgments, but perhaps it would be a mistake just to *define* it in terms of its role in such judgments. Instead, I am thinking that the normativity we find in the notion of a true self is much closer to the normativity we find in concepts like that of the essence of the United States.

What do you think?

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