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Very much looking forward to the posts, Josh! I hope to be able to participate in the conversation.

Not so nebulous though, upon reading the (excellent) linked papers. I didn't need much convincing, I guess, that people use these two viewpoints (moralized essence, and featureless-point). The real action, in my view, comes in how to compare/reconcile these viewpoints to the ontologies widely accepted in philosophy.


Thanks! My thoughts on the self have definitely been shaped by your work, so it will be really excited to have you in the mix.


Thanks for these kind words. Ultimately, I will be arguing that it is not possible to reconcile people's ordinary intuitive framework with the kind of frameworks that have been more prevalent in philosophy. So the claim will be that there really is a tension here.

Hello Josh!
I have learned a great deal from your post here and papers to which you've linked, as well as your interview with me last month at D & D. Thank you very much.

I hope that my question and comment will add to the ensuing discussion in some way or other. I have not yet read all of the articles to which you linked. But I wanted to ask you about some remarks made in the "Value Judgments and the True Self" article. You and your co-authors wrote:

"This general tendency to see 'unwanted' mental states as more reflective of the true self seems worthy of further investigation as it suggests that the true self is seen as something that is discovered or emerges rather than as something that can be constructed or willfully defined."

Have you and/or your colleagues done studies that revolve around the constructed or inessential self, as opposed to the true or authentic self? That is, have you and/or your colleagues done studies with people who don't think there is a true self, including people who think that the self and its agency are constructed within a set of social and political constraints?

I apologize if this question seems out of order in some way.


Hi Shelley!

This comment gets right to the heart of the issue I'll be discussing. Just as you say, if you look at philosophers or at other people who engage in explicit thought about these issues, it immediately becomes clear that many of them do not believe in a true self. Yet, despite that, I will argue that these people's intuitions about agency are shaped by a conception of the self that remains essentialist. Thus, there is a tension in such cases between explicit beliefs about the self and a more implicit conception that shapes intuitions.

thank you for your response to my query. I won't ask for additional explanation until I read your upcoming posts. Best, Shelley

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