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The Rational Unity of the Self

Hubbs, Graham (2008) The Rational Unity of the Self. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The topic of my dissertation is selfhood. I aim to explain what a self is such that it can sometimes succeed and other times fail at thinking and acting autonomously. I open by considering a failure of autonomy to which I return throughout the dissertation. The failure is that of self-deception. I show that in common cases of self-deception the self-deceived individual fails, due to a motive on his part, to be able to explain the cause of some belief or action of his. There are several philosophical projects that arise when one reflects on this failure. They are presented by the following questions: what are our minds like, such that this failure is possible? For what should we criticize the self-deceived individual, given that he has a motivated lack of self-knowledge but does not know he is so motivated? Is the self-deceived individual epistemically criticizable for lacking explanatory self-knowledge in a way that he is not criticizable for lacking knowledge that would help him explain another's thoughts and actions? By answering these questions I provide an account of the rational unity that goes missing in self-deception and in the related phenomenon of epistemic akrasia. This unity can—and I argue, should—be present in bodily action as well. When a person acts without this unity, he acts in a weak-willed, akratic way. I provide an account of this disunity, which, when added to my account of the disunity of self-deception, reveals the rational unity of an autonomous agent, the rational unity of the self.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hubbs, Grahamgrh11@pitt.eduGRH11
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee MemberSetiya, Kierankis23@pitt.eduKIS23
Committee MemberMachamer, Peterpkmach@pitt.eduPKMACH
Committee MemberRödl,
Date: 12 June 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 9 October 2007
Approval Date: 12 June 2008
Submission Date: 5 April 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: akrasia; mental activity; rationality; self-deception; self-knowledge; weakness of will
Other ID:, etd-04052008-144828
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:38


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