Single Idea 3823

[catalogued under 16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 2. Persons as Responsible]

Full Idea

I am held responsible now for things that I did in the distant past. But that only makes sense if there is some entity that is both the agent of the action in the past and me now.

Gist of Idea

Being held responsible for past actions makes no sense without personal identity


John Searle (Rationality in Action [2001], Ch.3.VII)

Book Reference

Searle,John R.: 'Rationality in Action' [MIT 2001], p.90

A Reaction

A possible response, of course, is that you are held responsible for your past deeds, but you shouldn't be. The idea that you are the same as when you committed the crime is a convenient fiction for people who desire revenge. Responsibility fades.