Annals of Ethics
Online ISSN : 2434-4699
Are Implicit Attitudes the ”Real I”?
Naoki USUI
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2019 Volume 68 Pages 201-214


Over the last twenty years, the study of implicit attitudes has been significantly developed. Meanwhile, the existence of these attitudes raises an important philosophical question about their relations with our ”real self, ” which makes a moral appraisal of ourselves possible. Do implicit attitudes constitute our real self? In other words, do these attitudes express who we really are? In order to address this problem, I shall divide the model of the real self into the synchronic and the diachronic model, by drawing from the works of H. Frankfurt and his critics. As is commonly-known, Frankfurt provides a hierarchical account in this context, which has been criticized by some philosophers. Thus, I will first examine the controversy between Frankfurt and his critics, and then I shall elicit the core ideas from the synchronic model and the diachronic model which are related to the real self, and are common to both perspectives in the controversy over each model. These core ideas of the synchronic and the diachronic model are expressed as ”the coherence of mental states through the connection among their semantic contents” and ”the inflexibility of the thematic continuity” respectively. Given this, I examine whether implicit attitudes constitute the real self from the perspective of each model. And, based on my examination, I argue that they do not constitute the real self in either one. If my argument thus far is correct, it follows from one perspective of moral responsibility that we are not responsible for behavior caused by our implicit attitudes. However, I point out that the lack of such moral responsibility might be contrary to our intuition or practice related to our ordinary attribution of moral responsibility. Therefore, perhaps it might be the conception of the real self itself that should be reconsidered, which is an issue that I raise for future research

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© 2019 The Japanese Society for Ethics
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