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The Moral Self and Moral Duties

Everett, Jim A.C., Skorburg, Joshua August, Savulescu, Julian (2020) The Moral Self and Moral Duties. Philosophical Psychology, . ISSN 0951-5089. (doi:10.1080/09515089.2020.1789577) (KAR id:79492)

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Recent research has begun treating the perennial philosophical question, “what makes a person the same over time?” as an empirical question. A long tradition in philosophy holds that psychological continuity and connectedness of memories are at the heart of personal identity. More recent experimental work, following Strohminger & Nichols (2014), has suggested that persistence of moral character, more than memories, is perceived as essential for personal identity. While there is a growing body of evidence supporting these findings, a critique by Starmans & Bloom (2018) suggests that this research program conflates personal identity with mere similarity. To address this criticism, we explore how loss of someone’s morality or memories influence perceptions of identity change, and perceptions of moral duties towards the target of the change. We present participants with a classic ‘body switch’ thought experiment and after assessing perceptions of identity persistence, we present a moral dilemma, asking participants to imagine that one of the patients must die (Study 1) or be left alone in a care home for the rest of their life (Study 2). Our results highlight the importance of the continuity of moral character, suggesting lay intuitions are tracking (something like) personal identity, not just mere similarity.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/09515089.2020.1789577
Uncontrolled keywords: personal identity; morality; moral self; experimental philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF41 Psychology and philosophy
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Jim Everett
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2020 15:54 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 10:46 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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