[SydPhil] Notification: Kathryn Tabb @ Wed 10 Aug 2016 13:00 - 14:30 (Seminars)

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Tue Aug 9 13:00:08 AEST 2016

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Title: Kathryn Tabb
Mad Persons and Fatal Errors: Locke’s Account of Personal Identity in  

Locke’s account of personal identity has been criticized for allowing that  
if a person does not remember an action, he or she will not be held  
accountable for it on the day of final judgment. Since personhood is  
dependent on consciousness, an event done by the same human being need not  
be done by the same person if he or she is not conscious of having  
committed the act. Moreover, Locke’s account seems to allow for another  
unintuitive result: if someone is conscious of having done an action he or  
she is responsible for it, even if its clear his or her organism could not  
actually have committed it. Locke’s apologists have attempted, via textual  
interpretation, to extricate the theory from these unappealing  
consequences. I argue instead that Locke’s chose to bite these bullets.  
Nonetheless, his theory of personal identity still offers an ethically  
substantive account of reward and punishment. Using the contrast class of  
the madman — whose freedom is overtaken, in Locke’s view, by associated  
ideas —  I illustrate that for Locke when ideas are not annexed to the  
consciousness via active perception, they do not contribute to the  
constitution of the person. This is because personhood is meant to track  
those ideas for which we are responsible, that is, which we obtain through  
the labor of the understanding. Based on this framework I offer a reading  
of Locke’s infamous “fatal errors” passage (Essay 2.27.13), showing that  
the apparent fallacy can be resolved once we recognize that Locke’s  
forensic notion of the person is intended to track our liability for our  
moral notions, which we must work to monitor and which can be mitigated by  
When: Wed 10 Aug 2016 13:00 – 14:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Where: Sydney Uni, Muniment Room
Calendar: Seminars
     * Sam Shpall- creator

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