Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming

ISBN : 9780190085148

Agnes Callard
306 ページ
140 x 140 mm

Becoming someone is a learning process; and what we learn is the new values around which, if we succeed, our lives will come to turn. Agents transform themselves in the process of, for example, becoming parents, embarking on careers, or acquiring a passion for music or politics. How can such activity be rational, if the reason for engaging in the relevant pursuit is only available to the person one will become? How is it psychologically possible to feel the attraction of a form of concern that is not yet one's own? How can the work done to arrive at the finish line be ascribed to one who doesn't (really) know what one is doing, or why one is doing it? In Aspiration, Agnes Callard asserts that these questions belong to the theory of aspiration. Aspirants are motivated by proleptic reasons, acknowledged defective versions of the reasons they expect to eventually grasp. The psychology of such a transformation is marked by intrinsic conflict between their old point of view on value and the one they are trying to acquire. They cannot adjudicate this conflict by deliberating or choosing or deciding-rather, they resolve it by working to see the world in a new way. This work has a teleological structure: by modeling oneself on the person he or she is trying to be, the aspirant brings that person into being. Because it is open to us to engage in an activity of self-creation, we are responsible for having become the kinds of people we are.


Section I: Practical Rationality
Chapter 1: Decision Theory and Transformative Choice
Chapter 2: Proleptic Reasons
Section II: Moral Psychology
Chapter 3: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Conflict
Chapter 4: Akrasia
Section III: Moral Responsibility
Chapter 5: The Problem of Self-Creation
Chapter 6: Self-Creation and Responsibility


Agnes Callard was born in Budapest, Hungary, raised in New York City and received a BA from the University of Chicago. She left Chicago for the University of California, Berkeley, where she received an MA in Classics and a PhD in Philosophy, and subsequently returned to the University of Chicago to teach in the philosophy department. Her areas of specialization are ancient philosophy and ethics.