In this paper, I will argue that philosophers have overestimated the value of reflective endorsement. Introspection does not, as many philosophers have supposed, shine a searchlight on a person’s authentic identity. Our “selves” are not as transparent to us as we would like to think. In fact, much of the work done in an introspective mood is confabulation or rationalization rather than genuine self-discovery. I will argue that if this is the case, the outputs of the reflective endorsement process are not inherently normative in the way that thinkers like Harry Frankfurt and Christine Korsgaard have suggested.
If this is the case, then the identities that we establish through the process of reflective endorsement are not the moral features of our experience that we might have supposed. And if this is the case, then we would be wrong to place other-than-human animals in a different moral category than humans simply because they do not regularly engage in reflective endorsement.
In light of the problems that I will identify for the reflective process, a different view of the self will be warranted. I will argue that we learn more about our authentic selves by monitoring our consistent, reliable dispositions to behave. If this is the case, there would no longer be any justification for denying that other-than-human animals have coherent identities through time, since they too demonstrate reliable and predictable behavioral dispositions.
Robison-Greene, Rachel D.
"Human Identity, Animal Identity, and Reflective Endorsement,"
Between the Species:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/bts/vol24/iss1/1