Law in Contemporary Society
I'm breaking Jason's original Post into two -- this is on the issue of unity, the other will be on the use of fictive legal constructs in argument. I have left the original post in place and pasted edited versions below:

Question 1: Application of the Unitary & Non-Unitary Self

A skilled attorney understands and is attentive to the multiplicity of persons within an individual. But how does does he or she use this understanding? Is there a functional difference believing that a person does not have a fixed self and believing that a fixed unitary self which nevertheless recognizes a range of human emotions and identities? How does one use this understanding to argue before non-realist judges?


Consider the differences in the theory of persuasion (an aspect of social psychology) that would be entailed by a change in theory of personality (an aspect of intra-psychic psychology) if one concluded that human beings have multiple, interacting, not necessarily inter-conscious personalities.


Cohen and Holmes challenge at least two assumptions people make when they ask that metaphysical question: (1) the assumption that the phrases "unitary self" and "multiple self" have some essential meaning--that is, a meaning which is independent of the experiences of the world we use those phrases to describe.

Choosing when it is useful to believe in a multiple or unitary self involves figuring out the practical effect of one choice or the other. The task, for the functionalist, is not to decide whether the self is "really" metaphysically unitary or multiple. The perspective you choose depends on the sorts of questions you're trying to answer at any particular moment, not any belief that the perspective you choose is the metaphysically and invariably "true" perspective.

The next step would be to try to figure out what it would actually mean, in terms of concrete experience, to actually start thinking about myself and others as multiple when it is useful to do so. At that point, I have to admit, I find myself at a bit of a loss.


There is no more a unitary human being than there is an autonomous one. Yet I consider these illusions as vital for us.


-- AndrewCase - 28 Jan 2009



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r2 - 07 Jan 2010 - 22:49:19 - IanSullivan
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