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Identity, commitment and morality


  • Herlinde Pauer-Studer


In his critique of a self-interest understanding of rationality Amartya Sen appeals to notions like commitment and identity. Sen uses 'identity' in an abstract sense: it refers to the conditions of rational agency. Sen's emphasis on the notion of identity finds a parallel in recent Kantian accounts, e.g. the work of Christine M. Korsgaard and Elizabeth S. Anderson. In my paper I compare Sen's account of practical rationality and identity with the Kantian accounts of practical rationality which consider the concept of practical identity as crucial for understanding the connection between rationality and morality. Sen's account, as I will show, does not follow the Kantian line altogether since Sen, unlike the Kantian accounts, does not identify the rules of rationality with the rules of morality. Sen's position, as I argue, can be read as a middle position between Humeanism on the one hand and a Kantian position on the other, and I defend such a middle position.

Suggested Citation

  • Herlinde Pauer-Studer, 2006. "Identity, commitment and morality," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3), pages 349-369.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:13:y:2006:i:3:p:349-369 DOI: 10.1080/13501780600908226

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dasgupta, Partha, 2005. "What Do Economists Analyze And Why: Values Or Facts?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(02), pages 221-278, October.
    2. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2002. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 1-3, January.
    3. Sen, Amartya, 2005. "Why Exactly Is Commitment Important For Rationality?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(01), pages 5-14, April.
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