Luca Fonnesu

On Frankfurt's Practical Philosophy

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Ethics, Practical Philosophy, Analytic Philosophy, Free Will

Beginning with some considerations about contemporary analytical ethics and its critical attitude towards the domain of morality, the paper offers a critical reconstruction of Harry G. Frankfurt's philosophical development from his early writings about the concepts of «free will» and «person» through the last contributions about the constitution of personal identity and the relevance of the category of «love». Frankfurt's early writings (1969-1971) offer a stimulat¬ing analysis of highly problematic notions by distinguishing different classes of individuals - such as «human beings», «persons» and «free persons» - drawing on the property of reflexivity, i.e. the critical consideration of desires and volitions. Although this formal model can be criticized with regard to specific aspects, it avoids a linguistic or metaphysical interpretation of the notion of «person» and raises genuine philosophical questions. After 1980 Frankfurt tries to substantiate his formal model of the person by means of notions such as «identification» and «love» that emphasize the antirationalistic character of his approach. The constitution of identity based on every personal choice appears to be too ambitious and pervasive, and the unconditional appreciation of the experience of love as a form of necessity that «happens to us» undermines the conception of the person as based on reflexivity as well as the margin left for reasons of any kind.

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