Dartmouth Events

"Agential Plasticity," Alex Horne, Cambridge

Presented by the Department of Philosophy as part of the Sapientia Lecture Series

Thursday, March 31, 2022
3:30pm – 5:00pm
Haldeman 246, LHC conference room
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars
"Agential Plasticity"
Alex Horne, Cambridge
Thursday, March 31, 2022 • 3:30pm
Haldeman 246, LHC conference room

Talk Abstract: Agnes Callard has developed an attractive and novel account of rational value-acquisition she labels ‘aspiration’ and deployed it to explain the ‘agency of becoming’. One of the account’s most important pay-offs is solving the problem of self-creation, viz. how genuinely self-directed value-acquisition is possible. Her account of proleptic rationality sets self-creation apart from both self-endorsement and self-cultivation, thereby avoiding embracing either horn of what she dubs ‘Strawson’s dilemma’, which can be glossed as follows. Self-creation, understood as rational value-acquisition, is impossible because the new values must either be rationally continuous or rationally discontinuous with the values an agent already has. If they are continuous – in the sense that my new values are entailed by my old ones – I don’t really change. But if they are discontinuous, then any change must come about accidentally or from external forces – in which case I don’t really change myself. Either way, it looks like genuine self-creation is impossible. I argue Callard’s solution fails; propose an alternative; and argue that not only is it well-suited to solving the problem of self-creation, it also unifies two important aspects of our doxastic lives, viz. responsibility for the acquisition of both evaluative and non-evaluative beliefs. The alternative, I label ‘agential plasticity’. The unifying thesis it supports, I label ‘indirect evaluative voluntarism’.


The Sapientia Lecture Series is underwritten by the Mark J. Byrne 1985 Fund in Philosophy, which is an endowment established in 1996 to help support the study of philosophy at Dartmouth College.

For more information, contact:
Prof Yarran Hominh

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.