Personal Identity and Relational Selves

Authored by: Susan J. Brison

The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138795921
eBook ISBN: 9781315758152
Adobe ISBN:


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It is a truism to say that selves exist in relation to other selves. What is more controversial is the view, defended by many feminist philosophers, that selves exist only in relation to other selves, that is, that they are fundamentally relational entities. On this view, persons or selves—I shall be using these terms interchangeably—are what Annette Baier has called “second persons.” On her account, “[a] person, perhaps, is best seen as someone who was long enough dependent on other persons to acquire the essential arts of personhood. Persons are essentially second persons who grow up with other persons” (Baier 1985: 84). Another way of putting this is to say that selves are constituted in relationship with other selves.

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