TAMARA HOROWITZ MEMORIAL LECTURE
"Connected Self-Ownership and our Obligations to Others"
Abstract: This talk explores the concept of the connected self-owner, which takes account of the metaphysical significance of relations among persons for persons’ capacities to be owners. This concept of the self-owner conflicts with the traditional, libertarian understanding of the self-owner as atomistic or essentially separable from all others. I argue that the atomistic self cannot be a self-owner. A self-owner is a moral person with intentions, desires, thoughts. But to have intentions, desires, thoughts a being has to relate to others through language and norm-guided behavior. Individual beings require the pre-existence of norms and norm-givers to bootstrap their selves, and norms and norm-givers and norm-takers are necessary to continue to support the self. That means, I argue, that the self who can be an owner is essentially connected. Next, I ask how humans become connected selves and whether that matters morally. I distinguish among those connections that support development of valuable capacities, such as autonomy. I argue that the social connections that allow the development of autonomous individuals have moral value and should be fostered. On the basis of these two values, we can support at least two non-voluntary obligations, grounded in our metaphysical essence as connected self-owners.
Location and Address
Cathedral of Learning 1008